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Organic Chemistry Professor: Job Info & Requirements

Sep 16, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an organic chemistry professor. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and degree requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

Organic chemistry professors typically hold doctoral degrees, though master's degrees may be sufficient for work at community colleges. Besides teaching, they may also publish research papers, mentor graduate students, or be required to write grant proposals for their chemistry department.

Essential Information

Becoming an organic chemistry professor requires extensive schooling that includes years of graduate study. A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is necessary for university professors, and a master's generally qualifies individuals for teaching at junior colleges. Ph.D. students complete original research and pass comprehensive exams. Grant-writing knowledge or the ability to raise funds for research projects may also be required.

Required Education Ph.D. for university positions, master's for junior colleges
Other Requirements Grant-writing or fundraising sometimes required
Projected Job Growth (2018 - 2028)* 6% for all chemistry postsecondary professors
Median Salary (2018)* $79,550 annually for all chemistry professors

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Organic Chemistry Professor Job Info

Organic chemistry professors are academics who study and teach the structures and reactions of compounds. They work within chemistry departments of universities and divide their time between instructing chemistry courses, conducting research and writing for academic publications. Organic chemistry professors may also mentor graduate students who are pursuing their doctorates.

Organic chemistry professors are skilled scientific professionals. Because their jobs require delivering lectures and publishing papers, they need strong communication and writing skills. They may also need to secure funding for research projects, which may require grant-writing or fundraising skills.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall employment for all chemistry professors was expected to increase 6% from 2018-2028 (www.bls.gov). The best opportunities are for non-tenure track positions. The increase in employment is due to many professors nearing retirement and the growing number of college students.

Salary Information

The BLS reports that the median annual salary for chemistry professors was $79,550 as of May 2018. The average salary of college and university professors was higher than those who taught at junior colleges. Chemistry professors may also be employed in research and development.

Educational Requirements for Organic Chemistry Professors

While positions at junior colleges only require a master's degree, most jobs as university professors will require a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Master's degree programs in chemistry allow students to select organic chemistry as a focus area. These programs may require coursework in other advanced areas, such as applied analytical chemistry and applied biochemistry. Many master's programs allow students to choose either a thesis or research project as their capstone requirement.

Ph.D. Programs

Earning a Ph.D. requires years of schooling that begins with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. These programs require significant coursework and labs in general chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry. In addition to chemistry courses, programs include physics and calculus requirements.

Ph.D. programs set credit-hour requirements beyond the bachelor's degree level. Students who've earned a master's degree can apply those credits toward a Ph.D. program. Students may also consider work as teaching assistants for undergraduate students while completing their studies. Although there are coursework requirements, Ph.D. students devote significant time to completing a doctoral thesis of original research in organic chemistry and preparing for comprehensive examinations.

If you want to become an organic chemistry professor, get ready for a long education. Depending on the level of university you plan to teach at, a master's degree in organic chemistry or a PhD is the minimum requirement to apply for the job. While the education requirements are lengthy, employment opportunities are expected to be above average between 2018 and 2028.

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