How do I Become a Medicinal Chemist?

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  • Written By: Jill Gonzalez
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2019
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If you want to become a medicinal chemist in the United States, you should have, at minimum, a bachelor's degree in chemistry. Many employers prefer to hire candidates who have an advanced degree, such as a master's. Completing this type of educational program is essential for employment in this field. If you do not have an advanced degree, however, you may be able to find a job with a bachelor's degree and a few years of relevant work experience in organic or medicinal chemistry.

In some situations, you may be able to find work as an intern or trainee. Though these are typically low-paying jobs, it can be a great way to initially find employment in this field. If you want to become a medicinal chemist, you might want to begin preparing for this career path while you are still an undergraduate, as this could make things a bit easier for you. People who do not initially begin by planning for this type of career sometimes have to go back to school in order to obtain additional training.

Many job postings for medicinal chemists require candidates to actively participate in conducting research. You should feel comfortable in this type of role, if you want to advance within this field. As part of the research process, you should be comfortable reporting the findings of your research to other professionals. This may be done in the form of reports, emails, or articles submitted to professional journals.


To become a medicinal chemist, you should have exceptional communication skills so that you will have the ability to convey the results of research to others. You should also be able to describe the procedures and methods that you used while conducting various projects and experiments. At times, you might be asked to participate in conventions or to speak at seminars. It may be beneficial if you are comfortable speaking to large groups of people, some of whom may not be medical professionals and require explanations that are in plain language.

You should be a critical thinker in order to excel at this job. For the most part, you will be collecting and analyzing data that must be interpreted accurately in order to be of use to your employer. If you want to become a medicinal chemist, you might also be required to draw conclusions about your — or your colleagues' — experiments and projects. This requires you to have a decisive mind, and the ability to make sound judgments under pressure.


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