|MadSci Network: Chemistry|
The career options are almost endless! Chemists are needed in the pharmaceutical industry to discover and develop new drugs; in the food industry to develop and test new foodstufs and additives; in the petroleum industry, to develop and test new fuels; in the textiles industry, to develop new synthetic products such as plastics. The list goes on and on.
If you become a chemist, your interest in botany might lead you to the field of medicinal chemistry, since there are many plants that have as-yet undiscovered medicinal properties. Or you may enter the field of agrochemistry, where you might help develop new fertilizers or pesticides for the agricultural industry (the need for environmentally safe agrochemicals is ongoing).
You have some time yet, but eventually you will have to decide how far you wish to go in your education. You will absolutely need a college degree in science (BS). In general, that will get you a "bench" job, which means you would likely be in the laboratory doing the work, although someone else usually tells you what work to do. If you go on in school and obtain a master's degree, you will still be qualified for a bench- level position, although you might be given more responsibility in how the work is conducted, or what experiments to run. If you go further and obtain a doctorate (Ph.D.) you will most likely be able to get a job where you are in charge of the research, and will make the decisions as to what experiments are run or how.
Now, mind you, that is very generalized. There are some Ph.D.'s who work at the bench, and some BS folks who are in charge of their own projects. The world's never quite as cut-and-dried as we'd like it to be!
I will add that your interests might even lead you to the field of biochemistry. Once you learn how things work at the genetic level, you might be able to enter a career in botanical genetic engineering -- re-designing plants from the genetic level to be resistent to disease or to insects, or to produce more crops.
In short, just about any industrial field has a need for chemists some- where. The world awaits -- I say, go for it!
(Ah, and the only chat line I know of for science is on AOL, though I am sure there are others. Search the world wide web, or ask around!)
Return to the MadSci Network