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November 24, 2003
Volume 81, Number 47
CENEAR 81 47
ISSN 0009-2347




More than 13,000 foreign-born chemists are working in the U.S. Of these, more than1,500 are temporary residents, most of whom want to stay here long term. In addition, more than 600 new foreign-national Ph.D. chemists, and many more at the master's level, earn their degrees at U.S. universities each year, the majority of whom seek permanent employment here.

Most foreign-national chemists seeking permanent employment in the U.S. will need to find an employer willing to sponsor them for permanent residency (a green card). The green-card process can be time-consuming and expensive for the employer, so it is important that the foreign national have unique qualifications for the job he or she is seeking. Part of the sponsorship process will require the employer to demonstrate to the Department of Labor (DOL) that hiring the foreign national will not take a job away from a U.S. citizen.

There are two important things that a foreign national can do to make him/herself more attractive to potential employers. First, having a specialized set of technical skills will distinguish the foreign national from other candidates, especially U.S. citizens, and will facilitate the process for an employer to make the case to DOL that no U.S. citizen is qualified for the job. Second, communication skills are vital for any job candidate, but these skills are closely scrutinized in the case of a foreign national. Thus, practicing communicating in English, both orally and in writing (including practice interviewing), will pay dividends for the candidate whose first language is not English.

ACS provides many services to aid foreign-national chemists in their search for a permanent job in the U.S.

  • Career counselors are available to work one-on-one with all ACS members in their efforts to develop job-search strategies.
  • Mock interviews and résumé reviews are available for members at all national meetings and many regional meetings.
  • The ACS brochure "Employment Guide for Foreign-Born Chemical Professionals" is available at no cost to members.
  • Each ACS national meeting features a two-hour panel aimed at foreign-national chemists looking for jobs in the U.S. Panel members typically include a representative from an industrial employer, a representative from a university foreign-student office, and an immigration attorney.
  • The fall 2003 national meeting introduced a new workshop titled "Foreign-National Scientists: Obtaining a Job in the U.S." This workshop covers a brief history of foreign-national hiring in the U.S., a description of the temporary- and permanent-residency visa processes, and how a foreign national can maximize his or her chances of obtaining a job in the U.S. This workshop will be presented again at the spring 2004 meeting in Anaheim.

Joel I. Shulman spent 31 years at Procter & Gamble before retiring in 2001. For the past eight years, he was responsible for bringing new technical capabilities into the R&D department, which included recruiting at the doctoral level. He has had experience hiring foreign nationals and sponsoring them for green cards.

Shulman is currently an adjunct professor of chemistry at the University of Cincinnati and a consultant to the ACS Department of Career Services.

With the slow economy persisting yet another year, unemployment for chemical scientists is high and demand is soft. New graduates can expect a long job search and fewer offers, but some companies are hiring.

Unemployment among American Chemical Society members in the domestic workforce is 3.5%. This is a record high since the society started measuring the employment status of its members annually more than 30 years ago. Salaries continue to make steady gains.

Becoming a high school chemistry teacher is a great choice for a chemist with an advanced degree, and a few are taking that option, sometimes as a second career. These workers can help fill a need for qualified science teachers that is expected to skyrocket with impending retirements.

Graduate students, freshly minted Ph.D.s, and postdoctoral fellows are all vying for the few open positions in industry. Find out what industrial employers are looking for and how applicants can get noticed.

A guide to sources of job and career information designed for those in chemical and related sciences who are seeking industrial, academic, or government positions or looking to change careers. Online resources for scientists are highlighted, as are American Chemical Society career services.


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Copyright © 2003 American Chemical Society

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