Chemistry is probably the most important life-science subject in a High School curriculum. This is because all life-science subjects like Biology ( and its sub-divisions e.g Marine Biology, Molecular Biology, Plant Genetics, to name a few ) and others require a fundamental knowledge of chemistry, especially chemistry of life processes or Biochemistry. Grasped with a reasonably good knowledge of chemistry, students will find many career paths open to them, some of which are:
1. Industrial/Research chemists.
Chemists are in great demand, whether in public or private sectors. There are many industrial chemicals which are being used in all sorts of important processes leading to the synthesis of many useful products like plastics, synthetic rubber, paint and polymers used in apparel industries. A simple chemical like sulfuric acid finds many uses: in car batteries and as an important ingredient in many chemical processes. These processes require the service and supervision of industrial chemists, who must necessarily be trained chemists who have graduated from colleges and universities majoring in Chemistry.
Students who excel in Chemistry would also find many opportunities open to them in research and development: many government and private institutions offer jobs for Research chemists eg. the FDA and other multi-national corporations like DOW Chemicals and BASF, companies which are constantly working to find new products that are commercially viable and beneficial to humankind or to the animals.
2. Teachers of chemistry in High Schools and colleges.
It is a fact that there is a world shortage of trained Chemistry teachers both in High Schools and at the universities. Even advanced countries like US, UK and European countries cannot obtain sufficient trained and knowledgeable teachers to teach Chemistry. This is therefore another avenue open to students excelling in Chemistry who have the enthusiasm and capacity to join the teaching profession. Of course, a degree in Chemistry and a post-graduate teaching qualification are the pre-requisites for students who intend to make teaching their career.
3. Chemical engineers.
Chemical engineering is a hot and well-paying profession, especially in advanced countries of North America, UK and Europe; it is also gaining importance and currency in fast developing Asian nations like China and India. Needless to say, en excellent foundation in Chemistry is a must and the incumbent Chemical engineering student has to have obtained high grades in Chemistry in High School before getting admitted into Chemical engineering schools.
The job of a Chemical engineer can be manifold: he or she is in charge of chemical processes involved in the production of industrial chemicals e.g. petrochemicals; design of chemical plants and water treatment plants – to clean up the household and industrial wastes – also forms part of the work of Chemical engineers. It may be mentioned in passing that Chemical engineers are currently among the best paid professionals.
4. Food Technologists.
A food technologist’s duties involve supervising quality control of food items including poultry meat, dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, as well as analyzing the contents of manufactured food items like cookies, and other confectionery to ensure that the proportion of ingredients follows strictly the statutory requirements set out by law.
Since the job requires analysis of chemical contents of the aforementioned items, a sound knowledge of Chemistry is therefore essential. Students with excellent knowledge of Chemistry intending to become a food technologist need to read a degree in Food Science or Food Technology at the university.
5. Pharmaceutical professionals e.g Pharmacists
The job of a Pharmacist is not limited to dispensing medicine at the drugstores or Pharmacies; the work involves more than that. Other than having to be very familiar with the common and prescription drugs used to treat all sort of medical conditions – anti-hypertensive drugs, anti- depression drugs, etc – the Pharmacist also is trained to be able to synthesize drugs in the laboratories. Retail Pharmacists supervise the day-to-day running of a typical drugstore or Pharmacy and has to have some business acumen and management skills. Since all drugs are ultimately chemicals, a good knowledge of Chemistry is required. Of course, the High School student who excel in Chemistry has to apply to a School of Pharmacy to read the degree.
6. Medical and Dental professionals – Doctors, Dentists, etc.
As mentioned earlier, Chemistry is the foundation stone of Biological Sciences and a medical training encompasses training not just in surgery, physiology but also other important subjects like pathology, pharmacology and internal medicine, to name a few. It is no exaggeration to state that Chemistry is the common denominator of all these subjects. Most medical schools therefore insist (other than the mandatory first degree) that intending medical students possess excellent academic qualification in Chemistry, Biology, Math and others. The same is true for the training of a dentist.
In conclusion, students with excellent grades in Chemistry will find no shortage of career options, vocations and callings open to them that are both exciting and financially rewarding.