Don’t mistake a chemist for someone who owns a pharmacy, because it’s not, a chemist is a scientist who specializes in the study of chemistry, which is the branch of science that explores the properties, composition, structure, and behaviour of matter. Chemists investigate the fundamental nature of substances, the changes they undergo, and their interactions with other substances.


Pursuing a career as a chemist offers a wide range of careers such as science, research, business and healthcare. Chemists create useful compounds for pharmaceutical, oil, and other industrial and medical organisations. They apply their knowledge to develop new materials, pharmaceuticals, and technology. Additionally, they create and improve procedures for manufacturing and testing goods such as food, cosmetics and fuel.


Chemists are at the centre of inventing new materials and therapies, improving current ones, and devising creative solutions to environmental challenges. Additionally, they play an important role in understanding the properties of matter at the molecular and atomic level which is vital for progressing disciplines such as nanotechnology and materials science.


Furthermore, chemists are involved in many parts of daily life such as the fuel we use, the technology we depend on, and the food and clothing we wear. Pursuing a career as a chemist enables you to contribute to making the world for all of us safer, healthier and more sustainable.


In the following sections, I will discuss the potential careers of a chemist and outline the steps needed in pursuing a career as a chemist.


Steps to Becoming a Chemist

  1. Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree

    The first step to take is to obtain a bachelor’s degree. You can earn a bachelor’s degree in disciplines such as chemistry, physical science, life science, engineering or a related discipline. This phase will give you the foundational knowledge you need to have a successful career as a chemist.

  2. Gain Practical Experience

    You must gain practical experience while studying for your bachelor’s degree and after graduating. You can do this through internships or entry-level jobs. This can enable you to build the relevant skills needed in your field. You will also be able to practice what you have learned in real-world situations. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to network with professionals in your field. They can serve as a mentor and guide while you are navigating your career path.

  3. Choose an Area of Specialisation

    There are various professional areas you can specialise in as a chemist. You can choose an area based on your interests or your career goals. This will enable you to gain expertise and relevance in your industry.

  4. Pursue a Master’s Degree

    A master’s degree is important as it allows you to pursue more advanced areas as a chemist. You can pursue a master’s degree in your field of interest or specialisation. Additionally, a master’s degree will enable you to have a competitive advantage in the employment market.

  5. Build Relevant Skills

    As an aspiring chemist, you need to develop the required skills that will enable you to succeed in this career path. You should build skills such as laboratory skills, analytical skills, attention to detail, problem-solving, and time management skills.

  6. Pursue a Doctorate Degree

    You can consider getting a doctorate as you advance in your career. This can give you more opportunities for advancement and additional career options. Additionally, you need a doctorate if you want a research or work in an academic field.

  7. Earn Certifications

    You must acquire additional certifications related to this field. This can demonstrate your level of expertise to potential employers. Furthermore, it will enhance your knowledge in this field and improve your skillset. You can obtain certifications based on the area of specialisation you wish to pursue or based on general certifications in this field.


Types of Careers to Pursue as a Chemist

  1. Physical Chemists

    Physical chemists research the basic characteristics of matter and the mechanisms underlying chemical processes. Additionally, they create unique techniques and materials while using physical principles to comprehend chemical events.

  2. Analytical Chemists

    These chemists are employed in a variety of disciplines such as healthcare, forensics, and environmental monitoring. They create techniques to analyse samples while researching the structure and the characteristics of matter.

  3. Biochemists

    A career as a biochemist enables you to develop new medications and therapies as well as study the structure of proteins and nucleic acids. Additionally, biochemists research the chemical processes that take place within cells and tissues.

  4. Organic Chemists

    Organic chemists research carbon-based compounds such as those in living things. They create and generate innovative molecules used in materials science, medicines and several other applications.

  5. Environmental Chemists

    These scientists research how chemicals affect the ecosystem and create plans to cut pollution and protect biodiversity.

  6. Inorganic Chemists

    These scientists are engaged in work related to materials science, energy storage and catalysis. They examine elements and their compounds except those based on carbon.

  7. Materials Chemists

    Materials chemists research the creation and characteristics of several types of substances, including metals, ceramics and polymers. Additionally, they create innovative materials for a variety of uses, such as electronics, energy storage and medicine.


Universities in Africa to Study Chemistry

  1. Cairo University, Egypt
  2. University of Lagos, Nigeria
  3. Ain Shams University, Egypt
  4. University of Johannesburg, South Africa
  5. Alexandria University, Egypt
  6. University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
  7. Mansoura University, Egypt
  8. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  9. Assiut University, Egypt
  10. University of Monastir, Tunisia
  11. Sohag University, Egypt
  12. University of Nigeria, Nigeria
  13. Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria
  14. University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  15. Tanta University, Egypt
  16. Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  17. University of Carthage, Tunisia
  18. Durban University of Technology, South Africa
  19. University of Ilorin, Nigeria
  20. Covenant University, Nigeria
  21. University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria
  22. Jimma University, Ethiopia
  23. Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria
  24. University of Annaba, Algeria
  25. Hawassa University, Ethiopia
  26. University of Nairobi, Kenya
  27. Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
  28. University of Ghana, Ghana
  29. Makerere University, Uganda
  30. University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe


Pursuing a career as a chemist requires you to be committed to acquiring the relevant education and skills. This career path relies on scientific knowledge and laboratory skills. Therefore, you need to acquire this knowledge and skills to thrive in this career. Chemists work in a variety of industries depending on your choice of specialisation. You can work in places such as laboratories, research institutions, manufacturing facilities and universities. Additionally, you should choose your area of interest meticulously as this can play a role in the success of your career. You can choose an area of specialisation based on your career plans or your area of interest.


Good luck!

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