Jobs plentiful for new chemistry grads

November 14, 2000

For the fourth consecutive year, chemistry graduates at all levels will find themselves in a strong position as they look for work this spring, according to a report in the current issue of Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

"Both the industrial and academic job markets are good," says Judith P. Klinman, chair of the chemistry department at the University of California, Berkeley. "I've spoken with several job recruiters and they say there are often more positions than people they can recruit."

This year's annual employment report, which reports on employment and salary trends in the various fields of chemistry, is based, in part, on survey responses from 48,000 chemists.

Highlights of the 31-page special report: · Demand for chemists and chemical engineers is expected to outstrip supply this year in all markets: industrial, academic and governmental. Scientists with a backgrounds in bio- and cheminformatics are in particularly high demand, largely because of the wealth of information being produced by the techniques of combinatorial chemistry and the Human Genome Project.

· The pay gap between men and women industrial chemists with Ph.D. degrees has finally closed, at least for those who completed their bachelor's degree five to nine years ago. Older women still earn somewhat less than their male colleagues. The gap increases with age, bottoming out at 82 cents on the dollar for women who earned their bachelor's degree 30 to 34 years ago compared to men of equivalent experience and education.

· Female industrial chemists with bachelor's degrees are further from parity. Women 10 to 14 years past their degree earn 97 percent as much as men, but older women average only 87 percent.

· Unemployment for chemists stands at two percent - half the national average - and their salaries rank in the middle to the top of the range for all scientists.

· Entrepreneurs have been able to take advantage of an industry-wide trend towards outsourcing services such as custom synthesis, R&D, and marketing. Large companies that have streamlined their in-house operations are key clients for chemists able to start and run their own specialized businesses.

· After a period of low activity in the mid- to late-90s, universities are once again aggressively recruiting. Many universities built up their faculties in the 1960s and 70s, and are now scrambling to fill positions as senior faculty members retire. In addition, many departments are expanding into nanotechnology, pharmaceutical sciences, and biochemistry, and are looking for chemists to help build those programs.

American Chemical Society

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