|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
I hope you have asked several people for answers, since every chemist will have a different answer. I earned a 4 year degree in Chemistry. From there, I got a Masters and then a Doctorates in Chemical Engineering. I have worked for about 20 years and have worked with hundreds of chemists and engineers. How does math help you in your career? Math is extremely important. You might be surprised that most of the time I use simple math that you already know to do my job. Chemists and Engineers must understand and use algebra, too. They take a lot more math in college, such as calculus, but do not use this very much. However, these math courses help them understand the chemistry they study better. What schooling do you need? Although it is possible to be a chemist without a 4 year or Bachelor's degree, less than one out a hundred professional chemists lack this degree. About 1/3 of all chemists have more school. About 1/5 have a Doctorates. Many job opportunitites require the interested jobseeker to hold a Doctorate. That means 4 years after high school plus 3 to even 10 years more after that. Do you like your job? Right now I am working as an engineer, but I have worked as a chemist before. The job I got to do when I was a chemist was to invent new mixtures of polymers. As an engineer, I was able to invent new ways to heat things. In fact, I used microwave energy, the same energy as your microwave oven at home, to heat giant chemical reactors more safely and to reduce pollution. It was a lot of fun doing something no one else had ever done before. I had to understand a lot about chemistry and math in order to come up with the idea, and that made the invention of this new way to heat reactors even more fun, because I got to teach my co-workers how I did it. How many hours a week do you work? Where I work right now I work about 40 to 45 hours each week. I work for an engineering and construction company that designs and builds chemical factories and refineries (they make gasoline). When I am at work, I work carefully and as quickly as possible. However, I get paid very well for the work that I do. What do specilize in? My specialty is in using microwave power to heat and dry chemicals and chemical reactors. However, I also specialize in using complex programs that predict how a chemical plant or refinery should be built. What are some of your responseibites? As a chemist, my job was to invent new plastics and find better ways to make these plastics. As an engineer in research, I was asked to help find ways to improve manufacturing methods already being used and invent new ones. As an engineer in construction, I am responsible for carefully calculating equipment will work in a chemical plant that has not yet been built. What is your favorite part of your job? I like learning new things. Then, I like to use what I have learned and combine ideas that are very different and use them to create something new. What is the worst part of your job? Sometimes I am asked to do my job too fast and my work becomes sloppy. I do not like to do work that is less than perfect, but sometimes a good answer is needed right away and there is no time for a completely correct answer. I take pride in my work, though, and I prefer giving absolutely correct answers when possible. What is your average salary? Right now I earn $85,000 per year if I work 40 hours each week. In my present job, I get overtime pay, which is very unusual for a profesional chemist or engineer. Therefore, if I work 4 hours extra each week, I give myself a 10% raise! However, if I don't work, I do not get paid. Therefore, I go to work each day and always work at least 40 hours per week. A chemist just out of college would make between 30 and 45 thousand dollars per year. How often do you get paid? I get paid every two weeks. That is normal, although some chemists and engineers get paid each month. What is your name? I am Dr. Edward Peterson. If you have any more questions, you can email me at XpetersonX@aol.com. I will answer them as well as I know how.
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