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How Do I Start a Career in Molecular Chemistry?

A general chemistry degree makes it easier to get experience immediately after undergraduate studies.
Students studying molecular chemistry receive a large amount of hands-on training in the lab.
A Bunsen burner, which is used in working with chemicals.
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  • Written By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2014
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Starting a career in molecular chemistry means gathering information from and applying to accredited chemistry programs to get a bachelor's degree. From there, a person continues for a master's or doctoral degree, sometimes engaging in entry-level molecular chemistry work along the way. Once an individual specifies his desired subfield of molecular chemistry at the graduate level and completes his upper-level degrees, he is free to seek more advanced positions.

Initially, a person interested in entering the molecular chemistry field should look at the website for or contact the primary chemistry organization within the state or country in which he lives. The main agency in the United States, for example, is the American Chemical Society, which has accredited hundreds of facilities. These groups accredit the academic universities, colleges and research institutes that provide chemistry degrees and certificates. The accreditation ensures that the educational programs meet minimum standards for the field.

Upon locating good, accredited molecular chemistry programs, the next step toward a molecular chemistry career is to contact the program offices and request application and informational materials. Sometimes these tools and data are available on the program website. Gather all the materials needed from the program and submit applications to the programs of interest.

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Once accepted to a chemistry program, an aspiring molecular chemist should obtain a bachelor's degree in chemistry or a very closely-related field. Examples of classes found in bachelor's degree programs for chemistry include analysis, inorganic and organic chemistry, physical chemistry, statistics, environmental studies, math, biological science and statistics, as well as computer science. It is not necessary to focus on a subfield at the undergraduate level.

A general chemistry degree makes it easier to get some experience immediately following undergraduate study. The caveat is that the lack of a higher degree means that a molecular chemist cannot find roles with a lot of independence or responsibility. He frequently assists a higher-level chemist. Thus, most chemists who want a molecular focus continue on to get their master's or doctoral degree, which is required for most research positions. It is during this period that the individual chooses a subfield of molecular chemistry if desired, such as polymer or medicinal molecular chemistry.

Employers want molecular chemists to have hands-on experience in the field. This experience shows that a chemist is capable of working both in teams and independently, and that the chemist has a sufficient level of education to conduct work safely according to current regulations. In addition to basic entry-level positions, molecular chemists can pursue experience options through academic laboratories, work study programs, fellowships or internships.

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