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Career Options

Career Options

  • Destinations of CCE 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): Chemist, Quality Assurance Intern, Graduate Analytical Chemist, Science Technician, CLP and Regulatory Graduate, Research and Development Scientist, Lab Technician 

    Chemistry (Further Study includes): PhD Chemistry, MSc Computer Science, PhD Pharmacy, PhD Photonic Integration and Advanced Data Storage, PhD Organic Chemistry, MSc Pharmaceutical Analysis, PhD in Synthesis for Biology and Medicine, PGCE Science, MSc Drug Development and Pharmaceutical Science.

    Chemical Engineering (Jobs): Process Engineer, Financial Software Engineer, Financial Software Developer, AutoCAD Technician, Performance Engineer, Bio-gas Development Engineer, Project Leader, Client Executive, Graduate Engineer, Composite Development Engineer

    Chemical Engineering (Further Study): PhD Mechanical Engineering, PhD in the Photocatalytic Treatment of Waste Water, PhD Chemical Engineering, PhD Nursing and Midwifery

    As with all programmes at all universities, some graduates have not gone into graduate level work. Recent roles have included: Call Centre Assistant and Sales Assistant.

    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 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.

    The National picture: What do graduates do? is an annual report showing the national picture of graduate destinations.

  • 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 and employers where chemical engineers can find work. Some of the large graduate recruiters of chemical engineers you may have heard of include Shell, Johnson Matthey and Nestle. 

  • Energy Engineering

    Energy engineering is a growth area as industry strives to find renewable and alternative energy sources. The Energy Institute provides a good overview of the industry and Prospects: Energy Engineer provides further career and sector information.

  • Research

    If you are interested in contributing to the body of knowledge about your subject, a career in research is worth considering. This job profile provides a general overview of research as a career: Research Scientist, Physical Sciences 

    While some Research Assistant jobs are open to candidates without a PhD, these jobs are very competitive, so it's common for students interested in this area (whether it's within or outside academia), to pursue a PhD.  PhD opportunities can be found on and New Scientist. The Vitae website has a collection of careers stories and information on what researchers have gone on to do and An Academic Career provides further information about careers in research within academia. 

    Finding relevant experience can be challenging for undergraduates. International programmes such as IAESTE (Global) and DAAD (Germany) are useful sources of research experience for those students willing to travel. Within the UK, it's possible to find research opportunities with STFC and with private sector companies offering internships and placements in R&D and Product Development - Gradcracker is useful for finding these opportunities. It's worth keeping an eye on some of the research institutes e.g. Beatson, Cancer Research Cambridge InstituteFrancis Crick, Institute of Cancer ResearchWellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Paid placements and internships for undergraduate students with these institutes are rare but they may offer other opportunities to experience research with them. Alternatively, any experience with professional research (e.g. supporting academic staff with their research) or within a lab environment would be useful.

  • Nuclear Engineering

    Prospects: Nuclear Engineer provides a good overview of the role. The Nuclear Institute is a membership organisation and provides useful information about the sector and 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. 

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

    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 More PhD opportunities can be found on

  • 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 Relevant Job Websites.

  • 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 finance jobs with some offering roles in Management Consultancy. 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 the Stock Market Challenge and Insight into Management would be beneficial. Keep an eye on MyFuture for details.