The Chemistry Major

in the chemistry major you'll take

classes that focus on specific branches

of chemistry which I'll go into shortly

but what you might not expect is that

you'll take a lot of math physics and

some biology courses there's especially

more math and even calculus use than you

would assume from a high school chemical

at chemistry is a fair amount of

memorization associated with it like

biology does but this majors hallmark is

problem-solving for example in a general

chemistry class you might be asked what

will be the new pressure of a gas in a

fixed container if you raise the

temperature from 273 Kelvin to 350

Kelvin you may know how to solve this

because it just involves the ideal gas

law and some basic algebra but it's

definitely not just a memorization

problem as a chem major you'll take

general chemistry organic chemistry and

physical chemistry or as you'll hear

them called gen chem ochem and P chem

these are really the bulk of your

classes and each take about a year to

complete on top of these chem majors

will have to take about a year of

physics and a year and a half of

calculus which is basically identical to

what engineers have to do as well which

is why I emphasized how much math and

problem solving there is Gen chem comes

first and is where you learn the basics

but we'll go into more depth and you

might have learned in high school

chemistry you learn the periodic table

how to mathematically balance chemical

equations the evolution of how the atom

was understood and the ideal gas law and

more you'll also learn how battery cells

work and use equations to predict their

energy in the lab you may have to

predict the amount of products you'll

have at the end of a combustion reaction

or you might be asked to create a

battery cell which will apply your

knowledge of ions oxidation and

reduction reaction these labs are going

to get you familiar with all the

equipment you would need to use as the

chemist in ochem you'll have to learn

and memorize lots of different skeletal

structures which give detail to the

bonding of a molecule like single or

double bonds that exist in the compound

you'll also learn how various compounds

can be changed so given a skeletal

structure you'd be asked if something is

added to it what will the new compound

be and this can be used to our advantage

to manipulate compounds into something

useful like medicine you'll learn what

many different commonly known nutrition

compounds are made of like protein amino


carbs and vitamins in lab you may be

asked to create a product given an

initial starting material and through

various organic chemistry mechanisms

arrive at a final product you'll be

asked to predict the amount of products

you will end up with and you'll also

learn that the more steps in a procedure

the more air you will have built into

the experiment then P chem is where the

high-level math comes in you will

probably be required to use calculus

throughout these classes you will learn

the proofs behind concepts taught in gen

chem and why most of these concepts were

grossly oversimplified - what actually

happens you'll even get into quantum

mechanics which is a big physics topic

but you'll see how it applies to

chemistry quantum mechanics is

essentially the physics of how things

move and behave on a very small scale

like electrons atoms and photons or

light one example would be infrared

spectroscopy this is a technique where

we can shine infrared light on a

chemical to determine what it is now we

can't see infrared light which is what

some remote controls use to turn on your

TV but using a device called an infrared

spectrometer we can analyze the spectrum

of light that comes off which tells us

which wavelengths are most present in

the light so essentially depending on

how the graph looks and where the

maximum points are we can tell what the

chemical is if you're a chemistry

student interested in biotechnology drug

design or the food industry one course

you are likely to enjoy is biochemistry

or biochemical principles depending on

what your school calls it in this class

we will use advanced chemistry and

mathematical concepts to study

biological organisms and the cellular

constituents such as proteins lipids

carbohydrates and membranes in this

course you will learn their structures

and the metabolic processes associated

with them for example for carbohydrates

you'll go into great detail on

glycolysis the Krebs cycle and the

electron transport chain for lipids one

metabolic process you will study is beta

oxidation and for proteins or amino

acids you will not only study protein

synthesis for you will also study

proteins versatility and function in

biological organisms this class will be

challenging most will require math for

post-lab calculations and some schools

might even require

to develop a little bit of computer

coding skills to program various

functions for lab calculations one thing

you are sure to practice in the lab is

protein purification given a starting

sample protein purification is done so

that you can run various experiments on

the sample and study the many processes

and functions of protein next let's talk

about quantitative analysis which is

another class you'll take simply put

quantitative analysis is determining how

much of a given component is present in

a sample it may be expressed in mass

concentration or relative abundance of

one or all components in general

chemistry and many of your other

chemistry courses you will have spent a

lot of time balancing equations and be

asked to solve for how much product can

be made given a known starting material

in this class you go deeper in theory

about chemical equilibrium problems and

apply this theory and lab to analytical

problems there are many quantitative

analysis techniques but one example you

may be familiar with is an acid based

titration in this technique you'd be

able to determine the concentration of

let's say an acid by neutralizing it

with a base of a known concentration

quantitative is important because it

will help you predict how much product

to expect and determine your actual

yield quantitative analysis is used in a

wide range of scientific industries such

as agriculture food and drug companies

hospital laboratories chemical / polymer

manufacturers and many more

for example analytical chemists

frequently use quantitative analysis in

the formulation and testing of foods and

drugs because it is used to measure

nutrient levels and provide an accurate

dose another example is a medical lab

tech who would use tests to determine

the amount of various constituents of

blood such as amount of red blood cells

blood cholesterol levels or the amount

of protein excreted in urine two common

job titles that people have PhDs

typically hold our analytical chemists

and chemists although it might be

possible to find some senior level

analytical chemist or chemist positions

without a PhD most jobs will require a

PhD as of 2016 the Bureau of Labor

Statistics reported that there were

eighty six thousand six hundred and

xD chemists in the workforce with a mean

annual wage of 80,000 and $20 a year and

expected employment growth of 2.3

percent one thing to note is that this

number only accounts for chemists who

specifically have chemists in their job

title one huge plus about becoming an

analytical chemist or a chemist is that

they can find work in a wide range of

scientific industries a list of

industries that employ different types

of chemists include chemical or forensic

analysis like for criminal or civil

investigations process development

product validation quality control or

toxicology which is the study of

biological effects and safety of drugs

and other chemicals and of course

there's many more industries and fields

of chemistry you can go into now earlier

I mentioned that analysts frequently use

quantitative analysis to measure the

amount of a given constituent and in

these careers they would use various

quantitative analysis techniques on a

daily basis in conjunction with

quantitative analysis chemists use

qualitative analysis to determine the

different types of constituents in the

sample to put it simply if you have an

unknown sample you use qualitative

techniques to determine which compounds

are present and quantitative techniques

to determine how much of those compounds

are present if math and science really

excites you but you would prefer not to

work in a lab chemistry is a great major

to prepare yourself to be a doctor

pharmacist nurse or dentist because this

major would satisfy most of your pre

health requirements and give four years

of in-depth problem-solving practice now

some specific chemistry jobs would

include being an agro chemists

biochemists inorganic chemist and many

more for example in agrochemical tree

knowledge to improve agricultural

practices like improve crop production

or making the process of taking raw

Goods and turning them into consumable

foods and beverages in organic chemistry

is essentially looking at compounds that

don't have a carbon hydrogen bond this

knowledge can be used in mining

geosciences and in production of

semiconductors like the ones used in

your computers and cell phones if you

think designing drugs for pharmaceutical

companies to help people recover from

illness sounds interesting

then pursuing a career as a biochemist

might be a great career for you as a

biochemist you would

advanced problem-solving skills to

develop molecules that would interact

with the body and help cure or treat


now although some of these may interest

you entry level chemistry jobs are often

not incredibly exciting because fresh

out of school with just a bachelor's

degree you are limited in your knowledge

and skill sets jobs may involve simply

following procedures created by a

superior like adding a certain amount of

a chemical to another solution but won't

be very academically challenging of

course this may not always be true but

it's a very common occurrence for those

with bachelor's degrees so obtaining

further education is basically required

for majors like chemistry biochemistry

or biology if you want to go more into

the design or research and development

kind of work I provided a link to the

American Chemical Society careers page

down below which has huge lists and

definitions of chemistry careers and if

you look around you'll notice something

if you go to the toxicology page on the

right it says that 50 percent of

toxicologists have a PhD 25 percent have

a master's and 25 percent have a

bachelor's if you go to let's say

nuclear chemistry they say on the right

that technicians in the field require a

bachelor's degree and that research or

professional staff require a PhD and

whether you look at medicinal chemists

crystallography nano chemistry and so on

they all say something similar such that

technicians are the ones with a

bachelor's but to do the research and

design work you usually need a masters

and quite often the PhD so make sure to

take note on that if you guys like this

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