Careers in chemistry: What a great idea

career in chemistry
It makes total sense to become a chemist.

Careers in chemistry are a great idea.

People ask me a lot of questions about being a chemist: Why should I become a chemist?  Does a career in chemistry make sense for me or is it for huge nerds?  What is a career in chemistry like?  Will I be stuck in a lab for my whole life? Is it dangerous?  It is boring?  Will I want it to be dangerous?   Will I become a huge boring nerd that only wants to play Nintendo 64, search AltaVista and forgets how to interact with the opposite sex? Do I look good in this labcoat?  What happens if I don’t like wearing safety glasses because I don’t trust them?  How will I find a spouse if I smell like pyridine all of the time?  Will the other chemists make fun of me if I don’t smell like pyridine all of the time?

To me, the answer is crystal clear.  There are many great reasons to become a chemist.  It is breath-taking work.  It is mentally stimulating.  It is essential and meaningful work.  You could make a lot of money.    I could go on and on with the topic, but the fact is that it just makes good sense for a lot of students.

One of the big reasons is that they will pay you to get a graduate degree in chemistry.  TAs teach a class or two a week and make pretty good money for students. This is usually over $20,000 per year and at the end of the week, you are getting paid cash money to go to school, which is an amazing concept.

Just a couple of thoughts on the subject, but it is really worth keeping in mind.  Being a chemist has huge upside and not a lot of downside.  To be frank, there can be a little bit of danger involved but that can be minimized by keeping a good head on your shoulders and following proper safety protocols.  I have only seen a couple of very bad lab accidents and in each case, the incident could have been avoided if the student had used established safety procedures.

But keep chemistry in mind when you are thinking about what to major in.

Dr. Mike Pali got a bachelors degree in chemistry from Binghamton University, a masters degree in organic chemistry from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in bio-organic chemistry from the University of Arizona. His research focus was on novel pain killers which were more potent than morphine but designed to have fewer side effects. There may even be a patent or two that came out of it. Prior to all of this, he was a chemist at Procter and Gamble. After all of that, he (briefly) worked as a post-doctoral assistant at Syracuse University, working on novel organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). In between, he did NOT compete at the 1996 Olympics, make the Atlanta Braves opening day roster, or become the head coach of the Indiana Pacers, as he had intended. #fail During this entire time, he always loved helping students, especially if they were struggling with organic chemistry. In 2006, Dr. Pali founded in order to make learning organic chemistry fast and easy. 14 years and about 60,000 students later we are still helping students to learn organic chemistry one reaction at a time at