Working with chemicals isn’t for everyone, but for the people who do enjoy it—passion pays off. Those who love to learn about chemistry and work in a lab could find themselves at home in a variety of chemistry-related settings, depending on what they’d like to specialize in. 

From biological to industrial, there are many jobs you can find in major chemicals. If you want to synthesize polymers for a biotechnology company, there are high-paying jobs for that. If you’re interested in medicine and chemistry, there are jobs for that. Just take a look:

Chemical Engineer

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a chemical engineer can work with food, drugs, fuel, and other products in an office or a lab. They are known to also work in refineries and industrial plants, working onsite to manage operations.

As far as education, a chemical engineer needs at least a bachelor’s degree. Ideally, this degree will be in chemical engineering. Other than that, some employers look for applicants who have hands-on experience, whether that’s through a previous internship or another form of engineering program.

Now, for the main event—salary. A chemical engineer makes, on average, $105,550 a year. With a faster-than-average job growth in the next decade, chemical engineering makes for a promising, lucrative career.


If you’re interested in drug research and treating diseases, pharmacology might be for you. According to the Betterteam job description for pharmacologists, their main duties include studying the effects of drugs or chemicals on animals and humans, recording the effects of new medicines, finding and analyzing hazardous materials in the environment, and performing experiments on a variety of substances in the lab.

To become a pharmacologist, you would need to complete a bachelor’s degree and then a pharmacology graduate program. The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics has a list of accredited pharmacology programs that you can look into. These programs will take about six years, and that’s after four years of an undergraduate education.

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While that’s certainly a long time to be in school, being a pharmacologist does pay off. With the average salary being $107,453 to $131,939, pharmacologists made this list for a reason. If you’re willing to undergo a Ph.D. program and take on minimal debt in your undergraduate years, you’ll have a nice return on your investment in no time.

Pharmaceutical Chemist

A pharmaceutical chemist, also known as a medicinal chemist, is similar to a pharmacologist but with a heavier emphasis on the chemistry side of developing drugs. If you’d like to focus on the literal synthesis of drugs and pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical chemistry is a high-paying career that can deliver.

According to Purdue University, you need at least a bachelor’s degree in pharmaceutical or organic chemistry to become a pharmaceutical chemistry. Like most other careers in chemistry, employers prefer that their candidates have more training in their specific field, whether it’s in graduate school or specific training in medicinal chemistry.

Pharmaceutical chemists, also like pharmacologists, are known to make six-figure salaries. On average, they make about $119,505 per year. If you’d like to work in a collaborative environment with scientists from other disciplines, pursuing this job will pay off.

Process Engineer

Indeed states that a process engineer is responsible for improving processes in manufacturing, helping establish safety procedures for people who work with dangerous chemicals, creating methods necessary to separate gases and liquids, designing equipment, evaluating equipment, and troubleshooting any manufacturing problems that arise.

Again, process engineers would benefit from a bachelor’s degree and background in chemical engineering. While they typically look at the overarching designs and workings of a manufacturing process, they use the concepts of chemical engineering in their daily work.

Process engineers can expect to make around $85,631 per year, which is the national median for their salaries. There are graduate programs in chemical engineering that could raise your earning potential as a process engineer, too.

Polymer Chemist

Let’s say that you’re more comfortable in a lab setting. You’re interested in creating polymers, and synthetic materials like plastics. If that sounds like you, then becoming a polymer chemist might be right up your alley.

A polymer chemist works with all sorts of polymers to create pretty much all the products you see in your everyday life, from the tires on your car to the plastic bag you put your sandwich in. Polymer chemists can also combine chemistry and biology by studying polymers in nature like cellulose, starch, and keratin. The biological aspects of this career help them synthesize new and improved polymers.

When it comes to education, a polymer chemist typically needs at least a master’s degree in polymer or materials chemistry. You can’t get to that level without first obtaining a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or polymer chemistry if it’s offered. For anyone who wants to work in research or education, you’ll most likely need a Ph.D. in polymer chemistry or materials chemistry.

While polymer chemists make a wide range of salaries depending on experience, education, and where they’re employed, they are known to make up to six figures. But on average, they make $73, 696 per year.

Rubber Chemist

After all that talk about polymer chemists, you may be wondering, “What if I just want to work with rubber?” Well, you’re in luck! Rubber chemists are responsible for developing rubber compounds that meet “design applications requests from manufacturers” (ZipRecruiter).

Rubber chemists require at least a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. While graduate-level work is preferred for the research experience, the bare minimum is a bachelor’s. Like most other chemistry careers, being a rubber chemist requires attention to detail, research skills, and critical thinking skills.

Now, for the big question—salary. Rubber chemists make an average of $82,000 per year. In other words, a respectable salary for less formal schooling than other chemistry careers.


Though careers in this field often require extensive education, the time, money, and effort put in will pay off—literally. Careers in chemical engineering, pharmaceuticals, and pharmacology have an average of six-figure salaries. If you love working in the lab or collaborating with fellow scientists, odds are that your dream career is right on this list!