Pros & Cons of Getting a PhD in Chemistry

Within this article, you will find information related to some of the positives and negatives of earning a PhD in chemistry. Information on graduation requirements and the median salary and job growth of potential career options will also be provided.

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Through obtaining a PhD in chemistry, students will be well-positioned for jobs in research and academia. They will also gain a deeper understanding of how to manage others within a laboratory setting, how to use scientific equipment, and how to apply analytical and data collection skills necessary to come up with solutions to problems. In this article you will be presented with information on some of the positives and negatives of earning a PhD, along with general graduation requirements and potential job choices.

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Positives and Negatives of a PhD in Chemistry

Positive Aspects of a PhD in Chemistry

While a PhD in chemistry can take a long time to complete, low tuition is just one of the positives to earning such a degree. Below you will find information on some of the positives of gaining a PhD.

Tuition Isn't a Problem

The cost of tuition can deter many from pursuing a college degree, but while earning an undergraduate degree can be expensive, obtaining a doctorate in chemistry usually is not. The reason for this is that the majority of graduate programs in chemistry cover student tuition through stipends, scholarships, fellowships, and research and teaching assistantships. This means that you'll be able to focus on your studies without worrying about the cost of attendance.

Lots Of Experience Gained

While many students might feel that they are losing out on earnings while pursuing such a degree, the experienced gained is well worth it. When it comes to separating yourself from other job applicants, experience is everything. On the way to obtaining a PhD in chemistry, students will be required to teach courses and conduct research within university laboratories. Thanks to this hands-on training, recent graduates will put themselves in prime position for securing jobs in both research and academia.

Access To Better Jobs

Those with an undergraduate or a master's in chemistry can gain access to many good positions, but someone with a PhD has even more access. PhD holders will have the ability to conduct their own independent research, as well as manage fellow scientists within a laboratory setting. The degree itself will add credibility to their research and ensure that they have the experience necessary to gain entry into many high paying jobs in the field of chemistry.

Negative Aspects of a PhD in Chemistry

Though there are many positives to earning a doctorate in chemistry, there are some negatives as well. Within the sections below is information related to a few such negatives.

Not Much Down-Time

Earning a PhD in chemistry is no easy feat. It takes a lot of time and hard work to obtain one, and you should expect to have very little down-time if you decide to do so. While a PhD isn't likely to cost you much, the amount of teaching and research you have to do in order to cover that tuition means that you won't have time for other paying jobs.

Many Chances to Fail

Those who want to earn a PhD in chemistry will not only have to pass their classes with a GPA determined by their respective graduate program, but they will usually have to prove what they know multiple times during the process. After their first and final years of coursework, students will often need to take a qualifying exam to determine if they continue on with the program. This means that there is a chance a student could complete all coursework as directed and still not go on because he or she failed the four year qualifying exam.

PhD in Chemistry Graduation Requirements

Students wishing to obtain a PhD in chemistry will typically be expected to complete 80-90 credit hours of courses and research. On average, it will take five years to obtain the degree, but the time can vary depending on how long it takes a student to finish their dissertation.

PhD in Chemistry Jobs/Salary

Individuals who earn a PhD in chemistry will have the degree necessary to expand their career options in the fields of research and academia. Jobs like chemists and materials scientists often include basic research as well as applied research, and those seeking tenure at universities need a PhD. These PhD holders are also qualified to manage other scientists as well as work out complex problems within the field of science. We'll take a look at some of the potential career options for those with a PhD in chemistry.

Job Title Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Chemists and Materials Scientists $76,280 7%
Postsecondary Chemistry Teachers $77,190 10%
Natural Sciences Managers $118,970 10%
Chemical Engineers $102,160 8%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $69,400 11%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Earning a PhD in chemistry gives graduates the degree required to secure a multitude of jobs within the fields of research and academics. Additionally, it gives them the experience and skills necessary to lead fellow scientists in uncovering the answers to some of life's greatest mysteries in non-academic settings.

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