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CHEMIST: A Great Career If You Like To Analyze, Work Independently, Use Your Hands, & Solve Problems

About this video 

Alex, a Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry, describes her work in the laboratory conducting experiments, traveling to research conferences, and teaching college students. She started as an English major and along the way discovered her love for chemistry, and that being a scientist was an actual and awesome occupation.

Degree: Chemistry - English Language and Literature
Job Title: Research Assistant - Chemistry
Employer: University of Maryland

Job Summary: Chemists

Job Description

Chemists conduct qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses or experiments in laboratories for quality or process control or to develop new products or knowledge.

On-the-Job Training

Yes

Quick Facts

Average salary
Average salary
National Statistic Change Location
Confirm
$65,000 - $80,000
Projected job growth
Projected Job Growth
3 to 7 percent
Typical schedule
Typical schedule
Full-time, Long hours, Part-time
Typical workplace
Typical workplace
Indoor
Personal qualities
Personal Qualities
Analytical skills, Detail oriented, Hand-eye coordination, Mathematical skills, Organizational skills, Problem solving skills, Technical skills

Educational Path

Education requirement
Education Requirement
Bachelor's degree
View Detailed Career Data
P3.instances[0].transcript.parse_transcript_data({"transcript":"<p><span m='0'>Hi,</span> <span m='400'>my</span> <span m='780'>name's</span> <span m='1030'>Alex.</span> <span m='1530'>I</span> <span m='1770'>am</span> <span m='2170'>a</span> <span m='2570'>graduate</span> <span m='2835'>student</span> <span m='3620'>in</span> <span m='4019'>chemistry,</span> <span m='4620'>and</span> <span m='4770'>that</span> <span m='5020'>means</span> <span m='5370'>I</span> <span m='5510'>actually</span> <span m='6520'>work</span> <span m='6750'>in</span> <span m='6810'>the</span> <span m='6910'>lab</span> <span m='7180'>every</span> <span m='7450'>day.</span> <span m='7840'>And</span> <span m='8160'>I</span> <span m='8270'>work</span> <span m='8960'>with</span> <span m='9650'>my</span> <span m='9980'>principal</span> <span m='10550'>investigator,</span> <span m='11070'>my</span> <span m='11170'>professor,</span> <span m='12230'>and</span> <span m='12470'>we</span> <span m='12620'>come</span> <span m='12810'>up</span> <span m='12910'>with</span> <span m='13060'>ideas</span> <span m='13560'>together.</span> <span m='14090'>And</span> <span m='14280'>I</span> <span m='14950'>go</span> <span m='15110'>in</span> <span m='15270'>the</span> <span m='15350'>lab</span> <span m='15610'>and I do</span> <span m='15920'>experiments.</span> <span m='16410'>And it's</span> <span m='16830'>fun,</span> <span m='16990'>because</span> <span m='17220'>I</span> <span m='17330'>get to</span> <span m='17590'>do</span> <span m='17720'>a</span> <span m='17750'>lot</span> <span m='17930'>of</span> <span m='17990'>hands-on</span> <span m='18550'>work</span> <span m='18870'>and</span> <span m='19150'>I</span> <span m='19430'>get</span> <span m='19590'>to</span> <span m='19710'>travel</span> <span m='20065'>so I</span> <span m='20420'>can come</span> <span m='20898'>to conferences,</span> <span m='21376'>like I</span> <span m='21854'>am today.</span> </p><p><span m='22810'>But</span> <span m='23000'>part</span> <span m='23360'>of</span> <span m='23440'>being</span> <span m='23800'>a</span> <span m='23860'>graduate</span> <span m='24310'>student</span> <span m='24575'>is</span> <span m='24840'>actually</span> <span m='25190'>teaching.</span> <span m='25820'>For a few</span> <span m='26080'>years,</span> <span m='26580'>you will</span> <span m='26800'>actually</span> <span m='27140'>be</span> <span m='27330'>teaching</span> <span m='27770'>undergraduates,</span> <span m='28390'>usually</span> <span m='28670'>in</span> <span m='29330'>laboratory</span> <span m='29665'>courses.</span> <span m='31070'>And</span> <span m='31240'>then</span> <span m='31500'>after</span> <span m='31840'>a</span> <span m='31890'>while</span> <span m='32320'>you</span> <span m='32619'>kind</span> <span m='32720'>of</span> <span m='33200'>move</span> <span m='33450'>up</span> <span m='33710'>in the</span> <span m='33820'>ranks.</span> <span m='34230'>And</span> <span m='34370'>they</span> <span m='34570'>declare</span> <span m='34700'>you</span> <span m='35000'>are</span> <span m='35300'>now</span> <span m='35570'>a</span> <span m='36030'>experimentalist,</span> <span m='36525'>and</span> <span m='37386'>you</span> <span m='37752'>get</span> <span m='38120'>to</span> <span m='38690'>spend</span> <span m='38940'>more</span> <span m='39110'>time</span> <span m='39360'>in</span> <span m='39460'>the</span> <span m='39520'>lab</span> <span m='39950'>than usual.</span> </p><p><span m='40790'>My</span> <span m='41030'>career</span> <span m='41370'>path</span> <span m='41730'>was</span> <span m='41960'>actually</span> <span m='42200'>pretty</span> <span m='42540'>untraditional.</span> <span m='42830'>I</span> <span m='43120'>started</span> <span m='43570'>as</span> <span m='44020'>an</span> <span m='44060'>English</span> <span m='44590'>major</span> <span m='45714'>as</span> <span m='46208'>an</span> <span m='46702'>undergraduate,</span> <span m='47690'>and</span> <span m='47960'>I</span> <span m='48230'>completed</span> <span m='48460'>my</span> <span m='48570'>major</span> <span m='48910'>in that.</span> <span m='49170'>But</span> <span m='49300'>I</span> <span m='49380'>started</span> <span m='49780'>taking</span> <span m='50470'>chemistry</span> <span m='50890'>classes</span> <span m='51160'>for</span> <span m='51430'>an</span> <span m='51560'>environmental</span> <span m='52940'>science</span> <span m='53300'>major</span> <span m='53590'>that</span> <span m='53750'>I</span> <span m='53810'>was</span> <span m='54290'>double</span> <span m='54540'>majoring</span> <span m='54990'>in,</span> <span m='55730'>and</span> <span m='56180'>I</span> <span m='56300'>just</span> <span m='56600'>found</span> <span m='56720'>that</span> <span m='57010'>chemistry</span> <span m='57570'>got</span> <span m='57800'>really</span> <span m='58200'>exciting</span> <span m='58800'>for</span> <span m='58920'>me.</span> <span m='59010'>I had</span> <span m='59250'>some</span> <span m='59450'>really</span> <span m='59690'>great</span> <span m='59940'>professors.</span> </p><p><span m='60230'>I</span> <span m='60520'>got</span> <span m='61304'>motivated,</span> <span m='61696'>and</span> <span m='62090'>I</span> <span m='62600'>started</span> <span m='63480'>researching</span> <span m='64010'>what</span> <span m='64180'>kind</span> <span m='64340'>of</span> <span m='64830'>graduate</span> <span m='65290'>school</span> <span m='65459'>options</span> <span m='65880'>there</span> <span m='66080'>were.</span> <span m='66990'>And</span> <span m='67680'>even</span> <span m='67890'>though</span> <span m='68030'>I</span> <span m='68140'>wasn't</span> <span m='68450'>sure</span> <span m='68610'>if</span> <span m='68740'>I</span> <span m='68820'>was</span> <span m='69060'>going</span> <span m='69220'>to</span> <span m='69280'>be</span> <span m='69730'>accepted,</span> <span m='70400'>I</span> <span m='70610'>just</span> <span m='70910'>went</span> <span m='71180'>for it.</span> <span m='71440'>I just</span> <span m='71660'>thought,</span> <span m='71880'>well,</span> <span m='72130'>I</span> <span m='72330'>enjoy</span> <span m='72710'>doing</span> <span m='72930'>this.</span> <span m='73180'>I'm</span> <span m='73460'>getting</span> <span m='73760'>really</span> <span m='73970'>interested</span> <span m='74430'>in</span> <span m='74730'>understanding</span> <span m='75790'>the</span> <span m='76030'>chemistry</span> <span m='76530'>of</span> <span m='76580'>the</span> <span m='76650'>world,</span> <span m='77830'>this</span> <span m='78260'>day-to-day</span> <span m='78530'>life</span> <span m='78885'>you can start</span> <span m='79240'>explaining</span> <span m='79710'>things</span> <span m='80160'>a bit better.</span> </p><p><span m='81606'>So</span> <span m='82090'>I</span> <span m='82180'>went</span> <span m='82410'>for it,</span> <span m='82710'>and</span> <span m='82930'>I</span> <span m='83570'>got</span> <span m='83780'>into</span> <span m='83940'>graduate</span> <span m='84350'>school.</span> <span m='84680'>And here</span> <span m='84840'>I</span> <span m='85180'>am</span> <span m='86080'>five</span> <span m='86280'>years</span> <span m='86490'>later.</span> <span m='86860'>I'm</span> <span m='87340'>about to</span> <span m='87540'>get my</span> <span m='87860'>Ph.D.</span> <span m='88205'>in about</span> <span m='88550'>a month</span> <span m='88990'>or so.</span> <span m='89430'>So</span> <span m='89870'>it's</span> <span m='90310'>worked</span> <span m='90750'>out OK,</span> <span m='91190'>and</span> <span m='91690'>now</span> <span m='91850'>I'm</span> <span m='91990'>looking</span> <span m='92330'>at</span> <span m='92950'>post-doctoral</span> <span m='95260'>work</span> <span m='95590'>where</span> <span m='95800'>I</span> <span m='95830'>can</span> <span m='96260'>continue</span> <span m='96720'>on</span> <span m='97100'>rising</span> <span m='97290'>in the</span> <span m='97550'>ranks</span> <span m='98260'>to</span> <span m='98420'>becoming</span> <span m='98560'>a</span> <span m='98850'>scientist.</span> </p><p><span m='100720'>It's</span> <span m='100940'>a</span> <span m='100980'>good</span> <span m='101240'>job</span> <span m='101520'>if</span> <span m='101820'>you</span> <span m='102070'>particularly</span> <span m='102520'>like</span> <span m='102720'>to</span> <span m='102820'>work</span> <span m='103030'>with</span> <span m='103140'>your</span> <span m='103260'>hands.</span> <span m='104180'>If</span> <span m='104390'>you</span> <span m='105310'>tend to</span> <span m='105645'>be</span> <span m='105980'>more</span> <span m='106190'>analytical,</span> <span m='107260'>if</span> <span m='107400'>you</span> <span m='107570'>like</span> <span m='107870'>problems</span> <span m='108305'>and</span> <span m='108740'>are</span> <span m='110081'>logical,</span> <span m='111422'>those</span> <span m='111870'>are</span> <span m='112100'>the</span> <span m='112230'>kinds</span> <span m='112710'>of</span> <span m='112930'>qualities,</span> <span m='113420'>I</span> <span m='113480'>think,</span> <span m='113790'>that</span> <span m='114050'>resonate</span> <span m='114486'>with</span> <span m='114922'>people in</span> <span m='115360'>this job.</span> <span m='117270'>It's</span> <span m='117630'>a</span> <span m='117810'>job</span> <span m='118100'>also</span> <span m='118360'>if</span> <span m='118440'>you</span> <span m='118670'>are</span> <span m='118810'>an</span> <span m='118930'>independent</span> <span m='119570'>worker.</span> </p><p><span m='119835'>If you</span> <span m='120100'>prefer</span> <span m='120530'>working</span> <span m='120940'>on</span> <span m='121070'>your</span> <span m='121260'>own</span> <span m='121910'>with</span> <span m='122110'>maybe</span> <span m='122350'>a</span> <span m='122440'>little</span> <span m='122670'>bit</span> <span m='122830'>of</span> <span m='122910'>contact</span> <span m='123140'>with</span> <span m='124000'>your</span> <span m='124430'>supervisor,</span> <span m='124810'>or</span> <span m='125190'>with</span> <span m='125480'>maybe</span> <span m='125730'>collaborations</span> <span m='126420'>with</span> <span m='126580'>other</span> <span m='126760'>people.</span> <span m='127170'>But</span> <span m='127230'>day-to-day</span> <span m='128280'>you</span> <span m='128419'>tend</span> <span m='128710'>to</span> <span m='128780'>be</span> <span m='128940'>in</span> <span m='129120'>the</span> <span m='129220'>lab</span> <span m='129620'>doing</span> <span m='130199'>your</span> <span m='130459'>own</span> <span m='130720'>thing.</span> <span m='130949'>And</span> <span m='131336'>that's</span> <span m='131723'>fun.</span> <span m='132110'>If</span> <span m='132950'>that's</span> <span m='133120'>what</span> <span m='133260'>you</span> <span m='133360'>like</span> <span m='133530'>to</span> <span m='133650'>do,</span> <span m='133870'>that's</span> <span m='134320'>a perfect</span> <span m='134726'>kind of job</span> <span m='135132'>for that.</span> </p><p><span m='135540'>But</span> <span m='136010'>it's</span> <span m='136120'>definitely</span> <span m='136480'>something</span> <span m='136870'>that</span> <span m='137140'>people</span> <span m='137670'>who</span> <span m='139040'>are</span> <span m='139260'>into</span> <span m='139500'>science--</span> <span m='140000'>I'm</span> <span m='140080'>not</span> <span m='140260'>sure</span> <span m='140370'>they</span> <span m='140510'>know that</span> <span m='140920'>becoming</span> <span m='141520'>a</span> <span m='141550'>graduate</span> <span m='142160'>student</span> <span m='142500'>chemistry</span> <span m='142875'>and</span> <span m='143250'>going</span> <span m='143540'>on</span> <span m='143730'>to</span> <span m='143780'>become</span> <span m='144050'>a</span> <span m='144110'>scientist</span> <span m='144840'>is</span> <span m='145090'>even an</span> <span m='145350'>option.</span> <span m='145655'>I think</span> <span m='145960'>they often</span> <span m='146460'>think</span> <span m='146865'>you will</span> <span m='147270'>become</span> <span m='147580'>a</span> <span m='147640'>doctor,</span> <span m='148490'>and</span> <span m='148600'>that's</span> <span m='148790'>a</span> <span m='148850'>great</span> <span m='149150'>option, too.</span> <span m='149660'>But</span> <span m='150350'>I</span> <span m='150400'>think</span> <span m='150770'>you should</span> <span m='151120'>at least know</span> <span m='151370'>that</span> <span m='151790'>you can</span> <span m='152248'>go this</span> <span m='152706'>different track</span> <span m='153622'>and</span> <span m='155460'>start</span> <span m='155860'>studying</span> <span m='156360'>questions</span> <span m='156770'>about</span> <span m='157620'>materials,</span> <span m='158330'>and</span> <span m='158670'>different</span> <span m='158920'>reactions,</span> <span m='159330'>and</span> <span m='159740'>synthesizing</span> <span m='160205'>new</span> <span m='160670'>kinds</span> <span m='161130'>of</span> <span m='161510'>drugs</span> <span m='161800'>and</span> <span m='162060'>pharmaceuticals.</span> <span m='163190'>That's</span> <span m='163440'>a whole</span> <span m='164730'>career</span> <span m='165070'>path</span> <span m='165420'>that</span> <span m='166200'>I</span> <span m='166310'>didn't</span> <span m='166510'>necessarily</span> <span m='167140'>know</span> <span m='167350'>about</span> <span m='167600'>until</span> <span m='167900'>late</span> <span m='168280'>in my</span> <span m='168970'>undergraduate</span> <span m='169295'>studies.</span> <span m='169620'>And</span> <span m='170340'>if</span> <span m='170700'>I'd</span> <span m='170830'>know</span> <span m='171090'>a</span> <span m='171120'>little</span> <span m='171310'>bit</span> <span m='171480'>earlier,</span> <span m='171860'>it would have</span> <span m='171970'>made</span> <span m='172200'>the</span> <span m='172290'>transition</span> <span m='172590'>a bit</span> <span m='172890'>simpler.</span> </p>","file":{"id":208163,"video_id":"2701297304001","name":"63211459","duration":174633,"thumbnail_url":null}});