Chemical & Engineering News
November 3, 1997
Copyright © 1997 by the American Chemical Society

R eflecting an overall buoyant U.S. economy, the 1998 employment situation for chemists and chemical engineers is unfolding as one of the brightest in a number of years. In this annual examination of career opportunities for chemists and chemical engineers, C&EN finds that recruiters are back on campuses in force. In fact, on some campuses, companies that didn't make an appointment several months ago are being" wait-listed" by universities and colleges that are already booked solid.

This is good news for new graduates, but the market is also brighter for seasoned professionals. After several years of corporate downsizing and streamlining, firms are once again hiring at all degree and experience levels. One recruiter notes that companies are hiring chemists both to enhance current enterprises and "to invent the future." Pharmaceutical companies in particular are hiring synthetic organic chemists for drug discovery research.

Even in academia, hiring has picked up, although universities and colleges are fussier than ever about hiring because of the high cost of bringing an assistant professor on board and tight research funding. Even when start-up funds are available, both research universities and undergraduate institutions are likely to leave positions unfilled until they find a candidate who is essentially guaranteed to work out.

This year's Employment Outlook special report also examines the wide variety of jobs outside traditional laboratory and research positions in industry and academia that are available to people trained in the chemical sciences, the changing role of the R&D manager in industry as a result of downsizing of the past few years, and how employees can optimize their opportunities for having a lifetime of rewarding careers.

Hiring for 1998 is shaping up to match the tempo of the late 1980s, all major pharmaceutical and chemical companies are recruiting in force on campuses, and jobs are opening up in academia.

Data from a variety of sources indicate that the salary situation for new chemistry graduates and chemists in general is beginning to improve. However, starting salary data from the American Chemical Society are being delayed this year because of a new survey involving other scientific societies.

A degree in chemistry or chemically related sciences opens up a world of opportunities outside industry and academia, including careers in marketing, policy-making, teaching, journalism, and law.

In the downsized, reengineered, merged, and acquired corporate world, managers of R&D are taking on new roles-for starters, they're more in tune than ever with their firms' business goals.

Many workers in the chemical industry-who are still recovering from years of downsizing and restructuring-are learning how to manage their careers to optimum advantage.

The American Chemical Society and others offer services, information, and guidance for chemists who are seeking jobs or changing careers.

ACS Pubs Chem Center