There are many career paths you can take after getting your PhD in Chemistry. For some individuals, going into science policy is the way to go. Others may find a rewarding career in pharmaceutical research. However, as hard as it is to do and as difficult as it can be at times, doing a PhD in chemistry could be the best choice of your life!
What is the Dark Side of Doing a PhD in Chemistry?
If you’re thinking about doing a PhD in chemistry, be aware of the “dark side.” For many people, a PhD in chemistry is a career-defining step. But it’s not all sunshine and roses. With so much work and stress involved, there can be serious downsides to pursuing a PhD in chemistry.
Here are 3 to watch out for:
- Low pay. You’ll need to be prepared for low pay, especially with a PhD in chemistry. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for chemists was $67,370 in 2016, which is just over half of what the average person earned overall that year ($130,330). At this point, a lot of people decide not to pursue a PhD in chemistry because they think it’s not worth it financially. But that’s only part of the story. (You can read more about why a PhD is so expensive here.)
- Exhaustion and burnout. If you’re going into research with the idea that you’ll publish papers and get attention from students and collaborators every day, you’d better be prepared to handle the stress. It’s a lot harder than you think, and if you’re not careful, it can make you crazy.
- Competition for funding. Getting grants isn’t easy; in fact, it’s one of the biggest challenges graduate students face as they get started in their research careers. Most people don’t have thousands of dollars sitting around to fund their projects before they start graduate school, so it helps to have a plan in place by the time you apply for your first grant. The problem is that many governments are cutting back on funding for research, which makes it even more important for researchers to win grants that recruit talented students into science and engineering–and some programs require applicants to give up their time to volunteer as research mentors (see below).
Why is doing a PhD in Chemistry challenging?
There are a few reasons why doing a PhD in Chemistry can be challenging. First and foremost, the field of Chemistry is vast and complex. It covers a wide range of scientific disciplines, from the molecular and atomic levels to the systems and chemical processes that occur in living things. This means that a PhD in Chemistry requires both depths of knowledge and a comprehensive understanding of many different areas of science. Additionally, because Chemistry is such a rapidly-growing field, there is always new research being conducted. As a result, PhD candidates must constantly be up-to-date on the latest developments in the field in order to keep up with their peers. Finally, Chemistry is often one of the most competitive fields for academic positions, which can lead to long hours and intense competition. The Science of Chemistry
The process of creating new compounds has been a part of chemistry for centuries. However, the field was largely limited to only a few basic compounds up until the early 20th century. This prompted Dr Dmitri Mendeleev to create his periodic table, which accurately mapped all known elements in order of their atomic weight. The table eventually became one of the most important achievements in chemistry, and as such, it is considered to be a founding event in the field by many historians. In addition to developing numerous other physical theories, modern-day chemists have developed countless techniques that can be applied on an everyday basis. For example, they can measure how much materials are reacting together or determine how long certain substances last.
Who Can Be Successful with a PhD in Chemistry?
There are many things to consider when deciding if a career in chemistry is for you. Here are a few key factors to keep in mind:
- Are you interested in solving complex problems? A PhD in chemistry can provide you with the opportunity to do just that.
- Do you like working independently and being able to take charge of your own work? A PhD in chemistry can give you the opportunity to work on projects that are of your own design and control.
- Are you patient and able to take criticism? While a maths or physics degree may not be as forgiving, a PhD in chemistry often requires extensive research and writing. If you’re not comfortable with this type of work, it may not be the best fit for you.
- Are you willing to commit time and energy to your career? A PhD in chemistry can be a long and demanding process, requiring hours of homework each night and long hours during office hours as well. If this isn’t something that interests you, it may not be the right choice for you.
How to make it fun!
If you’re thinking about doing a PhD in chemistry, there’s no doubt that the workload is daunting. Between classes, lab work, and research, it can be hard to find time for fun. But don’t let the grind wear you down – there are ways to make your PhD experience more enjoyable! Here are a few tips:
- Find a support group. There’s nothing like talking with other doctoral students to get a sense of how you’re doing and to brainstorm ideas for getting through the workload. Groups can also provide camaraderie and inspiration. Check out academic societies or student associations at your school or university to see if any exist.
- Take advantage of facilities on campus. Many universities offer labs and computing resources that are available to doctoral students free of charge. Take advantage of these resources! You may also be able to enrol in online courses that are offered through your university’s Distance Learning Center.
- Get involved in extracurricular activities. Participating in clubs and organizations can give you a new perspective on chemistry and help you develop skills that will be useful in your career after graduation.
- Stay positive. Even when the workload feels insurmountable
- Do not give up. Don’t get discouraged when others around you seem to be laid off or looking for new jobs. Your strong performance during your first year will help you land your dream job!
- Try to network with people who are going through similar situations. This can help you identify career opportunities and gain support in difficult times.
- Take advantage of online resources and tools offered by your university’s career centre or online career databases (like Monster). These resources can help pave the way for a successful job search after graduation.
- Stay flexible about obtaining your degree. Think about how long it may take.
While a PhD in chemistry might seem like the perfect career choice for someone with a passion for science and a thirst for knowledge, it’s not always easy. In fact, there are plenty of Challenges and Struggles that come along with being a PhD chemist – and many of them aren’t anything to celebrate. If you’re considering doing a PhD in chemistry, be sure to read this article so that you can know what to expect. And if you don’t end up going through with it, at least you now have some insights into what not to do when pursuing this degree!