Career Options- Chemistry & Chemical Engineering

  • Career Options- Chemistry & Chemical Engineering

Destinations of QUB graduates

A survey of graduates 6 months after graduation reveals that QUB graduates from Chemistry and Chemical Engineering have recently gone into the following roles…

Chemistry (Jobs): Graduate Analytical Chemist, Trainee Chartered Accountant, Community Care Worker, Junior Analyst/Designer, Research and Development Scientist, Trainee Chartered Accountant, Scientist 

Chemistry (Further Study includes): PGCE Secondary Science, PGCE Science, MSc Process Engineering, PhD Chemistry, PhD Ball Milling for Biological Chemistry, PhD Organic Chemistry, PhD Chemical Synthesis, PhD Sustainable Chemistry, MSc Forensic Science

Chemical Engineering (Jobs): Project Engineer, Graduate Project Lead, Data Scientist, Processing Engineer, Research Assistant, Operations Graduate, Project Engineer, Graduate Trainee Engineer, Graduate Process Engineer, Accountant, Consulting Associate, Technical Support Scientist, Production Engineer, Applications and Process Engineer, Business Manager 

Chemical Engineering (Further Study): MSc Process Engineering, PGCE Secondary Science, PhD Chemical Engineering, Master of Chemical Engineering

As with all programmes at all universities, some graduates have not gone into graduate level work. Recent roles have included: Waiting and Bar Staff.

There can be many reasons to explain this including saving for further study, getting relevant work experience, wanting to take some time-out, but often it is due to a lack of career planning prior to graduating. Reviewing these careers resources and taking advantage of opportunities to Go Further will help to ensure that you fulfil your career potential. If you wish to book an appointment to discuss your options and plan your career you can do this through myfuture.

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Science and Pharmaceuticals

Prospects: Overview of the Science and Pharmaceutical Sector will provide an overview of this diverse sector. A typical job role in this sector suited to Chemistry students is that of Analytical Chemist. Any lab-based experience you can acquire as a student is really beneficial and many employers offer internship and placement opportunities. Local opportunities exist with employers such as Almac and Randox. Large employers offering graduate schemes in this area include GlaxoSmithKline, Proctor and Gamble, Unilever and BP. The role of Pharmacologist may also be an option particularly if you are interested in pursuing further study up to and including PhD level; the British Pharmacological Society provide further information on this career area. Toxicologist is another role to consider with further information available from the British Toxicology Society website. For Chemical Engineering students the role Product/Process Development Scientist is worth exploring for further information. 

Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineers can work across many different industries; the Institute of Chemical Engineers includes a list of industries where chemical engineers can work and whynotchemeng provides an extensive list of employers who recruit chemical engineers. Some of the large graduate recruiters of chemical engineers you may have heard of include Shell, Johnson Matthey and Nestle. 

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Energy Engineering

Energy engineering is a growth area as industry strives to find renewable and alternative energy sources. Energy Careers provides a good overview of the industry and has a catalogue of job profiles associated with the sector with Prospects: Energy Engineer providing further information.

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Nuclear Engineering

Prospects: Nuclear Engineer provides a good overview of the role. The Nuclear Institute, a membership organisation for those working in this sector, produce a UK Nuclear Industry Booklet which provides a basic overview. The Nuclear Graduates scheme usually runs every year and recuits graduates for a variety of employers.  

Petroleum Engineer

If you are interested in working overseas this may be the career area for you. My Oil and Gas Career includes a career section detailing different roles within the sector, information about employers and vacancies. The Society of Petroleum Engineers and Prospects: Petroleum Engineer both provide further sector and career information. 

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Civil Service and Public Health roles

The Civil Service Fast Stream is an accelerated training and development programme for graduates, placing them into a variety of departments within the Civil Service. There are various recruitment streams available including a Science and Engineering stream. Other graduate opportunities exist with the NHS Scientist Training Programme for roles such as Healthcare Scientist, Clinical Biochemistry

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Forensic Science

Forensic Science is a popular and competitive area of work and as a result many students choose to pursue a relevant postgraduate qualification. The Chartered Society of Forensic Science provides a listing of accredited courses and also contains forensic science careers information and vacancies.

Forensic Scientists in Northern Ireland work for the Department of Justice with vacancies advertised on the Northern Ireland Civil Service recruitment website. UK-wide other employers include police forces, private companies and the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl). For an overall picture see Prospects: Forensic Scientist.

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Research

If you are interesting in contributing to the body of knowledge about your subject, a career in research is worth considering. For Chemistry students the role of Research Scientist, Physical Sciences would be worth exploring and also check the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council who offer funding to students interested in further study. Research Councils UK have a collection of case studies of researchers which give an insight into life as a researcher and the different career paths some researchers take. An Academic Career provides more information about careers in research. A postgraduate qualification (most often a PhD) is likely to be required.  Jobs and some PhD studentships can be found on Jobs.ac.uk. More PhD opportunities can be found on findaphd.com.

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Teaching

In Schools: A recognised teaching qualification is essential to find work in this area. The Department of Education Northern Ireland has general details about Initial Teacher Education (which includes the PGCE). The Universities and Colleges offering the training also have information on their websites which include how to apply and the closing dates e.g. Queen’s Initial Teacher Education (PGCE) information.

Chemistry is deemed a ‘priority subject’ by the Department of Education so if you are interested in undertaking teacher training in England you may be eligible for funding

PGCE courses are competitive to get into so interested students are recommended to: 

  • Gain experience of working with young people of the age group you hope to teach – usually gained through voluntary work.
  • Get an insight into what work as a teacher is like by trying to arrange to speak to a teacher to ask them about their job and try to get some classroom observation experience. You may also be able to arrange visits through personal contacts or with schools where you were taught. It may be possible to arrange with a local school via a speculative application.
  • Keep up-to-date with what’s happening in Education via the Times Education Supplement and the Guardian’s Education section.
  • Apply early.
  • These interview tips are useful when preparing for the course interview.

The Teach First Leadership Development Programme recruits high achieving graduates to work as teachers in some of the most disadvantaged schools in England and Wales.  Its 2 year programme combines this work with business skills training, internship and mentoring opportunities. At the end of the programme around 50% stay in the teaching profession in a leadership position, the other 50% are readily employed in a variety of business areas.

The JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Programme is an official and prestigious Japanese government scheme that sends graduates to Japan in order to promote international understanding at grass-roots level and to improve foreign language teaching in schools. Although participants teach English to school pupils, applicants for the programme can come from any degree discipline providing they hold a full UK passport.  It is a tough application process that begins in the October preceding the departure the following summer.

Also take a look at some of the teaching/tutoring opportunities available from the British Council such as Teach in India

In Colleges: Further Education Colleges will sometimes hire people to teach without them having teaching qualifications. These teachers will often be expected to work towards a teaching qualification and will be expected to have other relevant (sometimes vocational) qualifications and experience to offer. Colleges list job vacancies on their own websites. You can find a list of acceptable qualifications on the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland website.

In Higher Education: University lecturers will normally be expected to have or be working towards a PhD. An Academic Career provides more information about this career route. Jobs and some PhD studentships can be found on Jobs.ac.uk. More PhD opportunities can be found on findaphd.com.

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Accountancy, Banking, Finance and Management Consultancy

This broad sector covers a range of different roles including Accountant, Investment Banker, Retail Banker, Insurance Broker, Pensions Consultant and Financial Adviser.  Prospects: Accountancy, Banking and Finance has role profiles with more details about each of these areas.  A number of large professional services firms offer a range of graduate opportunities including Management Consultancy and Accountancy. These firms are interested in a broad range of graduates and interested students are recommended to find opportunities to build their commercial awareness and business understanding.

There are lots of opportunities to gain relevant experience in these areas while you are a student:

  • Some organisations (e.g. PwC) run 2 day Talent Academies for Level 1 students (application deadlines are often in Semester 1);
  • There are lots of summer internship opportunities for Level 2 students (application deadlines are often in Semester 1);
  • Graduate schemes in this area are usually open to graduates of any degree discipline.

Any additional opportunities to develop your business/commercial awareness such as City Scholars, the London Finance Study Tour, Stock Market Challenge and Insight into Management would be beneficial. Keep an eye on MyFuture for details.

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General Graduate Options

Approximately 50% of graduate vacancies are open graduates of any subject. Some may require some additional, specialist, post-graduate training but some do not. The list is extensive but includes fields as diverse as accountancy, general management, human resources and recruitment consultancy.  You can find a list of websites which advertise these opportunities below under General graduate opportunities.

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