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Articles on Chemistry:
   Major in Chemistry
    A Future in Chemistry

Major in Chemistry

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

“I stand in awe of God because of what he has done through his creation. Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith. If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God.”  ~James M. Tour; organic chemist

Chemistry, at its core, is the study of matter.  It uses math, theory and experimentation to understand how every day materials are composed and structured. Chemistry has been called “the central science” because it interconnects the physical, life and applied sciences. Chemistry professionals use their knowledge of substances to improve and develop new materials or material uses. To choose a major in chemistry is to begin down any number of career paths, from medicine to manufacturing to research to education. How important and helpful to gain an education in this field from a Christian perspective, where our all-powerful God receives the credit due Him for creating, sustaining and holding all things together by His powerful word!

Those who get excited about the periodic table of elements or reading ingredients on a manufacturing label may end up as chemistry majors. These individuals tend to have an innate mathematical wiring and enjoy conducting scientific experiments. Chemistry majors are inquisitive, with a passion for discovery and understanding how things work. They are not afraid of deep analyzation and asking the tough questions necessary for honest scientific thought. Beyond this, a chemistry major needs other important skills and traits as well. For example, it is helpful to have critical thinking skills, a sharp memory and a detail-oriented mind. A chemistry degree requires plenty of research, experimentation, focused report writing, and careful lab work. Though it is true that chemistry majors must sometimes work independently, you will also encounter plenty of collaborative opportunities (such as working with lab partners, and team research projects) where strong communication and people skills are a must.

Biology, physics and upper level math classes are par for the course in this rigorous major. In addition, you can expect lots of hands-on learning as you create chemical reactions and identity unknown compounds in the lab. Depending upon your program, it’s possible you may specialize in an area that interests you such as environmental, analytic, polymer or physical chemistry. Electives in this major tend to be vast and may include areas like geology, meteorology and paleontogy. Standard classes you may take include:

  • Organic and inorganic chemistry  
  • Biochemistry
  • Computer science
  • Engineering physics

Unlike some majors, a chemistry graduate does not follow a well-defined career path. Rather, this major offers a strong foundation of knowledge and a plethora of transferrable skills useful in many work settings. Many chemistry majors go on for graduate level learning in areas such as medicine, pharmacology, dental, veterinary studies or law or to pursue careers in research or other specialized fields of such as chemical engineering. However, there’s a wide range of career outcomes for those who delay or forgo a master’s degree. Some examples are:

  • Science technician (in a medical, vet, pharmacy, forensics or chemistry lab)  
  • Research assistant
  • Environmental specialist
  • Postsecondary biology teacher (requires additional teaching certificate)
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative
  • Manufacturing/quality control specialist

Someday we will all give an account to God for what we did with what He gave us. If He has gifted you with an analytical, scientific mind then a major in chemistry may be the perfect fit for you!