What’s It About
Chemists investigate chemicals to develop new knowledge of their properties and applications. A career in chemical science means learning about the properties of chemicals and how they react with each other and applying that knowledge to the creation of vital goods, such as medicines or fuel. Chemical science is key to a wide number of industries, as a result an education in Chemistry will open many career paths.
Industries involving chemical science include healthcare, petrochemicals, agrichemicals, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. There are areas of focus within chemical science, including organic chemistry, physical chemistry and inorganic chemistry. Chemistry science is a creative science that can involve everything from designing tougher mobile phone screens to developing new drug molecules for the pharmaceutical industry.
Many of the goods that we use on a day to day basis were created by chemists, these include adhesives, cosmetics, key components in electronic goods or clothes and tens of thousands of other goods. Chemists are central to vital services such as energy production, mining and recycling, applying their knowledge to keeping the lights on.
Chemical Science in Ireland
The chemical and biopharmaceutical industries continue to be among the fastest growing sectors in Ireland. Chemical scientists will find themselves in demand in many Irish industries. Biopharma and MedTech business have great need for chemists, hiring them to work in either manufacturing or research. In healthcare chemists are needed in hospital labs to perform tests on samples taken from patients, so doctors can correctly diagnose patients.
They are also employed in many Irish manufacturing industries, including plastics & polymers, agrochemicals and cleaning products, as well as in resource extraction, for example in the natural gas industry. In the food industry the increasing importance of food science in the development of new food products is providing opportunities for chemical scientists. Another field in which chemical scientists are needed is teaching, at both second and third level, developing the skills and knowledge of the next generation.
Nature of the Work
The wide variety of industries Chemical Scientists can find work in means the day to day routine of any two chemical scientists may be completely different. They may be working on topics as broad as developing new medicines, exploring threats to the environment, diagnosing patients, performing forensic tests or teaching chemistry in schools.
But for many there will be certain tasks core to their work, for example designing and conducting laboratory experiments which will be a skillset every chemical scientist will have worked on from their first days studying the subject. Directly related to this activity is noting results, writing reports and communicating your findings. Good judgement and logical thinking are key to drawing the correct conclusions from experiments.
As with other science subjects, mathematical ability, especially statistical knowledge, and attention to detail are highly important.