Author Topic: Chemistry-related careers for my high school DD (UPDATE - any Ontario advice?)  (Read 7816 times)

elaine amj

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Hi everyone, my DD is now 16 and is seriously considering future career paths. I am struggling a bit with how to advise her so was hoping for some help.

**UPDATE : DD is now 17 and applying for University. She continues to excel in chemistry, physics and math ( and media arts) but has little interest in biology so avoiding the medical field. She had decided on chemical engineering when we found it is an over-saturated market in Ontario. Hoping for suggestions on a marketable career for DD (who doesn't want to move from Ontario or work in the US). See post #35 **

She is a good student with a 92% average (so solid but not top of her class) who loves school and loves learning. She has really loved her Science classes over the last 2 years, particularly chemistry. She didn't care much for biology and didn't mind physics. She is also good in Math and has become even better this year (perfect marks in the last couple of tests). However, I have never been interested in the Science track so have never looked into it or checked out possible careers. DH is a nursing professor but she is not interested in becoming a nurse or a doctor. So REALLY looking for suggestions of possibilities in a STEM-related path.

Competing for her attention is her enjoyment of Media Arts. She has had a blast learning Photoshop, Illustrator, Animation, and video skills. My worry here is that she is good, but without a massive amount of native talent. Plus, I work in Marketing & Communications and I know firsthand what a challenging field it can be. Especially for designers who compete with those who have education and those who learn on their own. There are still lots of great jobs (like mine!) but they're not always easy to get. She's also not particularly interested in Marketing - preferring design. Plus, my DD likes to learn in a classroom-based setting (always happy to take extra classes) but has little drive in learning on her own initiative.

My preference is for her to go into a STEM field and keep up with her interest in design, videos, etc as that will come in handy in ANY job. I'm leaving the choice up to her (it's her life after all), but want to strongly encourage her to consider all the possibilities.

This discussion is coming to a head now as she wants to choose an animation course in favor of biology and I am worried this will affect any chances of getting accepted for a STEM course in university. Also, she is doing a co-op class next year and so far her co-op teacher has offered 2 options: a stint in a pharmacy (she does not like the sound of that) or a stint with a local video production company (she started looking up bus routes this morning lol!).

Part of the issue is that despite all the research she has done, neither of us have any concrete idea what can be done with a chemistry degree. We've only thought about things like lab work, pharmaceutical jobs, etc. None of these sound appealing to her. I am out of my depth here and my eyes glaze over when science is discussed lol! The other day, DD and I were reading some explanation of a chemical process and it all sounded like mumbo jumbo to me although it made perfect sense to her.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2018, 11:42:00 PM by elaine amj »

RichMoose

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2017, 10:47:16 AM »
Different types of engineering come to mind. Chemical or electrical engineering is a huge field where you can work with everything from fluids to desalination to solar. Quite robot proof as well.

Don't forget that education is just a base. Encourage her to study something she truly enjoys learning. The right career for her will come along in due time.

Better Change

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2017, 10:55:55 AM »
Chemistry PhD working in the chemical industry here.

When I was in high school, I REALLY wanted to major in English.  I was a pretty decent writer and loved reading, but I had a wonderful AP English teacher who strongly dissuaded me from studying humanities.  She said that I also had a knack for science, and that was a far smarter choice for future career path.  She advised me to keep the reading and writing as hobbies and focus on science.  I tried to double major in college in chemistry and English, but it was tough with all of the required laboratory courses.

If I could go back and do it all over again, I'd skip the PhD and get a terminal bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering.  The job prospects are better, and you earn as much as a PhD.  And here's the fun part - you don't have to work in a lab!  Chemistry and engineering degrees are worth so much these days - you can be a patent agent/attorney, science writer/editor, teacher, data analyst...etc...etc....and you can do design on the side!

Encourage your daughter to take at least one science class (chemistry, physics, biology) each semester to balance out the humanities.  It will provide the necessary requirements for just about any STEM field and provide some perspective.  If she hates it, well then, you can be proud of her for trying!

Has she considered architecture?  A good mix of design and science!

Scortius

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2017, 10:59:51 AM »
One high school course will not affect her college futures in any significant way.  If anything she should try the animation route now to see how it feels and whether or not it's worth pursuing further.

A passionate and motivated graphic designer will be far more successful and happy than a chemical engineer on auto-pilot.

There's also a big gap between chemistry and biology, you don't have to love biology to be a successful chemist.

Finally, there's a difference between someone who majors in graphic design because Photoshop is fun and someone who majors in it with an understanding of what jobs are available and what skills are required to get those jobs.  If she makes sure she pursues graphic design with her eyes open, she should be fine.

dcozad999

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2017, 11:05:03 AM »
One high school course will not affect her college futures in any significant way.  If anything she should try the animation route now to see how it feels and whether or not it's worth pursuing further.

A passionate and motivated graphic designer will be far more successful and happy than a chemical engineer on auto-pilot.

There's also a big gap between chemistry and biology, you don't have to love biology to be a successful chemist.

Finally, there's a difference between someone who majors in graphic design because Photoshop is fun and someone who majors in it with an understanding of what jobs are available and what skills are required to get those jobs.  If she makes sure she pursues graphic design with her eyes open, she should be fine.


I didn't take chemistry or physics in high school and I have a BA in Chemistry (though I've never used it). As Scortius said, missing one high school class isn't a big deal.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2017, 12:34:38 PM by dcozad999 »

elaine amj

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2017, 11:07:21 AM »
One high school course will not affect her college futures in any significant way.

I'm worried about entry requirements. Most science paths in university require all the sciences and the maths as part of entry into the program. What would she do if she is missing a Grade 12 level Biology? She will be maxing out all available courses in high school, including 2 extra summer school courses (over and above the credits needed to graduate). Her school has told her that is the absolute max they will allow her to take.

One teacher told her she would really regret not taking the Biology as well as she could run into problems with entry requirements.

BTW, loving the ideas so far - going to sit and discuss them with her so at least we have an idea of possible future career paths. I just feel so lost thinking about what kind of careers she could have with a chemistry-related degree so I don't feel like a helpful mentor in this. She has gone to her Guidance Counselor many times but did not get much useful help or advice.

« Last Edit: May 01, 2017, 11:15:56 AM by elaine amj »

markbike528CBX

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2017, 11:14:33 AM »
M.S. in Chemistry here.   
I picked Chemistry because it was fun, little rote memorization (vs biology) and the math is generally less hard-core than physics.   If she were older she could have my job, but I'll be gone before she gets her B.S. degree.

My job is pretty fun, I've traveled most of the way around the world.    I could teach a bright H.S. student how to do the basics of my job, but a B.S. degree is necessary, both as a doorway and also because you learn how to BS and explain chemistry concepts to people (generally engineers).
 
My job also includes putting together presentations for my self and others and Word document preparation (graphs, tables, pics). 
A good book to read for geeky designers is  The Visual Display of Quantitative Information  by  Edward Tufte. 

Go Chemistry!

elaine amj

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2017, 11:17:47 AM »
M.S. in Chemistry here.   
I picked Chemistry because it was fun, little rote memorization (vs biology) and the math is generally less hard-core than physics.   If she were older she could have my job, but I'll be gone before she gets her B.S. degree.

My job is pretty fun, I've traveled most of the way around the world.    I could teach a bright H.S. student how to do the basics of my job, but a B.S. degree is necessary, both as a doorway and also because you learn how to BS and explain chemistry concepts to people (generally engineers).
 
My job also includes putting together presentations for my self and others and Word document preparation (graphs, tables, pics). 
A good book to read for geeky designers is  The Visual Display of Quantitative Information  by  Edward Tufte. 

Go Chemistry!

That's awesome and definitely the kind of thing that might interest my DD :) What kind of job do you have?

Heroes821

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2017, 12:01:49 PM »
I have a very close friend who had similar interests in High School.  He was creative, messed with Photoshop, programming, video editing.  Then we had Chemistry class and he ate it up. Easily the best in our class at it.  He decided to get his Bachelors in Chemical Engineering.  During a summer program he met the woman who he ended up marrying that was also in school for Chemical Engineering.  Between the two of them they have worked in probably a half dozen jobs doing all sorts of interesting things.  Pollution prevention by inventing devices that filter what comes out of smoke stacks, Electric car batteries, etc.  They also have had their employers send them all over the US and some parts of Europe to work on projects with clients and they are both still under 30 with only 4 year degrees and they are probably FI already, ER who knows, but his wife is more MMM than MMM.

Good pay, lots of jobs all over the country.  I would avoid chemistry degrees themselves since some Chemical Engineers can actually do work similar to a chemist.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2017, 12:03:47 PM by Heroes821 »

zhelud

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2017, 12:31:02 PM »
Pope.
Seriously, the Pope has a master's degree in chemistry. I guess that is not an option for girls, though.

markbike528CBX

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2017, 12:56:40 PM »
M.S. in Chemistry here.   
I picked Chemistry because it was fun, little rote memorization (vs biology) and the math is generally less hard-core than physics.   If she were older she could have my job, but I'll be gone before she gets her B.S. degree.

My job is pretty fun, I've traveled most of the way around the world.    I could teach a bright H.S. student how to do the basics of my job, but a B.S. degree is necessary, both as a doorway and also because you learn how to BS and explain chemistry concepts to people (generally engineers).
 
My job also includes putting together presentations for my self and others and Word document preparation (graphs, tables, pics). 
A good book to read for geeky designers is  The Visual Display of Quantitative Information  by  Edward Tufte. 

Go Chemistry!

That's awesome and definitely the kind of thing that might interest my DD :) What kind of job do you have?

I work for a small branch of a larger company. 
We (small branch) do chemical decontaminations on nuclear power plant piping to reduce dose rates so others can work on the systems.  I get to work in the lab for preparation tests at the home office.  We then go to the plant to do the decontamination process (simple, safe chemistry), where I interact with the plant lab, the plant chemist and craftpersons like pipefitters.  Occasionally I have to go talk to the plant manager to adjust the schedule for the outage (which costs the plant manager ~$1M/day, so the questions need answers).   
One of the fun parts of my job is when people ask me semi-random questions that I really have to think about, and come up with an answer or a way to get an answer.   This happens more now that I've got 25+ years of experience.  If you want I can PM you my "unabridged resume", which is kind of like a diary of what I've done.

PS. I've also been a rocket scientist (really).

Margaret Thatcher (British Prime Minister 1979-1990) also started as a chemist (not a british pharmacist-).

gaja

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2017, 01:16:34 PM »
Pope.
Seriously, the Pope has a master's degree in chemistry. I guess that is not an option for girls, though.
Or Chancellor of Germany. Angela Merkel has a PhD in physical chemistry.

What does she want to achieve in life? A good life for herself and her family, contribute to a cleaner environment, help people's health...? I know you in the US have cut down on EPA funding and regulations, but the rest of the world still employ a lot of chemists to ensure that we keep our water, air and ground clean. A different path is in pharmaceutical industries. Pharmacies are only a small part of that; there is everything from research to selling the products to controlling the safety and influencing public policy.

KBecks

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2017, 01:26:27 PM »
I'm married to a Chemical Engineering graduate and he's done very well with earnings, and right out of college too.   

Best wishes to your daughter as she chooses.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2017, 01:43:39 PM »
Know a kid majoring in chemistry so she can go into the makeup/perfume industry. She LOVES makeup but wants to be a creator and innovator - not just a pretty face wearing it or slapping her name on things... ;)

galliver

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2017, 02:16:10 PM »
I think all you have to do is look around to see chemistry/chemical engineering at work, or related fields like materials science and food science. Any cosmetics/lotions/soap/shampoo in sight? Anything painted or lacquered? Synthetic fibers/plastics? Obviously pharmaceuticals (developing new drugs, or mass-producing established ones more safely and efficiently). Processed food (HFCS/gum/candy/drinks/flavorings). Fertilizers. Batteries/electrochemistry. Desalination. A friend's bf works on chemical power storage (Using e.g. wind energy to run a chemical reaction like electrolysis of water or production of natural gas from CO2 &water, and storing these fuels to burn/react for energy later). Oh, and so basic you'd forget to think about it: water processing, at both ends! How do you process the large amounts of water we use every day to make it safe to drink, and how do you make it clean enough to dump back into nature on its way out? Not the prettiest or most glamorous job but unrivaled importance. A more limited subset of chemistry can be used in combustion science and engines, as a subset of mechanical engineering. Play this game with her. Figure out what products, what industries, she'd find most worthwhile to contribute to.

By the by, as a graduate student in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (Fluid Mechanics) there is definitely room for a talent in graphic design (and even animation) in what we do. A huge part of being an engineer or scientist is sharing your findings and you can do that much more effectively if you can grasp and appreciate the impact of aesthetics on how people take in information. There is also plenty of room to work with images/animation; my lab primarily uses optical diagnostic (i.e. measurement) techniques, so basically the data we get out are pictures that we then process in various way so we can measure the dimension and/or motion of various flow features.

Also, more generally in (mechanical) engineering: there is a whole field out there of product design that is fascinating. It's part art, part engineering. Part aesthetics, part practical concerns: where do you put the buttons so they're convenient? How do you shape the handle? How do you adapt the product to the user, rather than forcing the user to adapt to the product? There is a book called Creative Confidence by the founders of design company IDEO and the Stanford "D-school" (Design school) that's full of both examples and guidelines to make yourself more creative (not artistic, but open to new ideas/solutions). Highly recommend. Anyway, this path wouldn't use a lot of chemistry (probably?) but would use a lot of the STEM skills it definitely sounds like she has, while also allowing some artistic outlet.

I don't know much about the education system in Canada, but I think in your shoes (what I'd want my parents to do if she was my sister, e.g.) I'd give her the godspeed to do the video production co-op but insist/convince her to do the biology class to keep her college options open...if that's legitimately a requirement for going into a science/engineering field.

elaine amj

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2017, 02:54:58 PM »
You guys are a wealth of knowledge. You have seriously helped me so much already! Now we will have some meat in our discussions. I seriously have never connected so many of these things to chemistry. I did great in high school - except for chemistry which I flunked (good thing I was able to replace it with English Lit!) so I have avoided all aspects of it since.

4greatglory

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2017, 08:15:49 PM »
Long time forum lurker here, but also a Chemical Engineer with 10 yrs in Pharma.

From reading your post, I might advise your daughter to try to take BOTH the Biology and Animation courses!

If she would like to do both science and art, consider pursuing scientific illustration, where she can put her interest in animation together with her aptitude in science to create educational, academic or industry videos and visuals. I hear that the animation side of scientific illustration is particularly in demand. Perhaps the downside for your DD is that this field is mainly focused on the medical/Bio side of things.

Once upon a time I was in her shoes (strong Chemistry and Art) and I choose engineering. But if I could do it again, I would also consider scientific illustration. 

Otherwise, on Chemical Engineering, I agree with others this can be a great career, with challenging, interesting, inspiring technology and projects. Chem E really does touch just about every industry, from diapers to nanomolecules to renewable energy to ice cream. Also the opportunity to travel or work in other countries; I've been an expat in Europe, and we go to equipment testing where ever the vendor is....too bad there's not much heavy industry in Hawaii ;).

I sadly would not recommend Chemistry unless she's really loves it (does she actually feel strongly about it?), it's much harder to get a job with a BS is Chemistry than it used to, and a lot of jobs in R&D are looking for masters. So you really need to have a passion.

Lastly, perhaps as reassurance; even if she pursues animation, graphics, or video editing, there are good jobs there too (just have to think outside the Disney/Pixar imagineer). Just for instance, in my industry we need CAD designers and 3D Modelers, we need product label and marketing design, we need publications etc etc. And I'm sure with the rise of social media, the demand for video editing and production is also rising. 

PS: I hear University of Toronto has a strong program (Master of Science in Biomedical Communications). Also, see http://cognitionstudio.com/work for an example of an scientific illustration firm's work. Also check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJyUtbn0O5Y&spfreload=5 for some really neat work. Or hit up https://gnsi.org/for more on scientific illustration


Zamboni

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2017, 08:32:00 PM »
There are tons of sectors that employ chemists from wineries to microelectronics manufacturers, but chemical engineers make more money. A chemical engineer who makes good figures? That's like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Another field where STEM and art go together to make a fantastic career these days is statistics. With all the big data from the internet, our BS stats majors get so many job offers they don't know what to do. Statisticians make graphics quite a bit, so a stats major who makes attractive figures? Wow, it's a grand slam.

Your daughter also can take courses in both a technical field and a creative field in college. Being good at making illustrations and presentation figures is a blessing in pretty much every field.

ThirdTimer

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2017, 09:30:11 PM »
A good friend of mine has a PhD in Chemistry, and she works for the Food & Drug Administration, reviewing studies done on various products and determining whether they meet safety standards to be eligible to be sold here in the U.S.

Also, my background is not in Chemistry, just STEM more broadly, but I'm a data scientist, and I think it's a job your daughter might really love if she likes math and analytical problem solving, and it could also use her interest in graphic design really nicely. Data science is a 'good' job by almost any measure (the pay is really good, there is way more demand for data scientists than there is supply of qualified applicants, it tends to be a low-stress job, and if you like analytical thinking and solving puzzles, it's really really fun), AND one major part of data science is data visualization -- figuring out elegant ways to take a bunch of really dense, complicated information, and present it in a visually compelling way that makes it easy for people to absorb and understand. There are some great examples of lovely data visualizations here: http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/

It's VERY rare to find people who have the skills both to analyze and understand complex data sets, AND to present the information in visual, easy-to-understand ways (personally, I'm good at the analysis part, but pretty so-so at the presentation part), so people who can do both well are in super-high demand, and it sounds like your daughter might have the skills and interests that would allow her to do well at both halves of the job.

MayDay

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2017, 06:14:18 AM »
Chemical engineer here, hubby is as well.

I loved chemistry but dad say me down with the average starting salary of a chemistry major and a chemical engineering major. Something like 25k and 50k at the time. I took a few extra chemistry classes and did lab work and was positioned to get any straight chem job I wanted or a chemE job.

All of my chemE jobs have leaned heavily towards project management, communication, relationships, etc. It is a ton of graphic design type stuff? No. But I'm also definitely not just in a lab all by myself all day!

I'd highly recommend finding a female chemE near you or a prof at a local University, and have her meet with them and job shadow.

Fwiw I never have taken a biology class. But I would definitely encourage AP physics and AP chem if she hasn't taken them yet. 

MayDay

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2017, 06:19:49 AM »
I want to add also: chemE programs don't typically include CAD. If she likes design stuff, taking a few CAD classes might be right up her alley. It will also broaden the scope of jobs she can get, as lots of jobs want CAD and don't care which engineering degree you have.  If I would do one thing differently, I'd take all the mechanical engineering CAD classes.

Ottawa

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2017, 06:31:48 AM »
I did a university degree in analytical/inorganic chemistry because I was 'better' at this area than others.  In particular, I don't have a strong capacity for memory-based learning.  Chemistry was more about understanding a foundation and building from it using logic rather than rote memory. This appealed to me.  Notice that this is completely different from 'What are you passionate about'.  I was not passionate about chemistry - I just stumbled through 4 years of it and then said "Now What?". 

I tried laboratory analysis in a regulatory environment and research in a tertiary environment.  These areas I found to have a low reward schedule and generally did not fulfil  what my mind craved. 

So, I went traveling, taught English and then...stumbled into forensic science more than 20 years ago.  Suddenly, all of the logic and reasoning that I learned through Chemistry studies clicked into place along side my natural curiosity and problem solving personality. 

I took a post graduate degree in forensic science and have loved this job for the last 17 years.  But alas, even good things become stale...FIRE calls me!  :-)

boarder42

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2017, 07:46:06 AM »
I liked chemistry til i took college chem in HS and it was just memorization.  if she like math science and physics i'd have her look at going to an engineering focused university.  She may go in with a predetermined major in mind but at our university we had classes freshman year where we explored all majors so we could be exposed to something we may not have known existed.  That being said in HS i'd push for taking all the STEM classes you can.  help weed out chemistry from my list of classes i enjoyed once i'd taken more advanced chem classes.  I also hated anatomy / biology etc.  was more memorization.  I'm a EE and our field is booming and likely will be for many years.

your higher paying jobs in the industry wont require or need you to know how to use CAD. 

Case

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2017, 08:12:33 AM »
Hi everyone, my DD is now 16 and is seriously considering future career paths. I am struggling a bit with how to advise her so was hoping for some help.

She is a good student with a 92% average (so solid but not top of her class) who loves school and loves learning. She has really loved her Science classes over the last 2 years, particularly chemistry. She didn't care much for biology and didn't mind physics. She is also good in Math and has become even better this year (perfect marks in the last couple of tests). However, I have never been interested in the Science track so have never looked into it or checked out possible careers. DH is a nursing professor but she is not interested in becoming a nurse or a doctor. So REALLY looking for suggestions of possibilities in a STEM-related path.

Competing for her attention is her enjoyment of Media Arts. She has had a blast learning Photoshop, Illustrator, Animation, and video skills. My worry here is that she is good, but without a massive amount of native talent. Plus, I work in Marketing & Communications and I know firsthand what a challenging field it can be. Especially for designers who compete with those who have education and those who learn on their own. There are still lots of great jobs (like mine!) but they're not always easy to get. She's also not particularly interested in Marketing - preferring design. Plus, my DD likes to learn in a classroom-based setting (always happy to take extra classes) but has little drive in learning on her own initiative.

My preference is for her to go into a STEM field and keep up with her interest in design, videos, etc as that will come in handy in ANY job. I'm leaving the choice up to her (it's her life after all), but want to strongly encourage her to consider all the possibilities.

This discussion is coming to a head now as she wants to choose an animation course in favor of biology and I am worried this will affect any chances of getting accepted for a STEM course in university. Also, she is doing a co-op class next year and so far her co-op teacher has offered 2 options: a stint in a pharmacy (she does not like the sound of that) or a stint with a local video production company (she started looking up bus routes this morning lol!).

Part of the issue is that despite all the research she has done, neither of us have any concrete idea what can be done with a chemistry degree. We've only thought about things like lab work, pharmaceutical jobs, etc. None of these sound appealing to her. I am out of my depth here and my eyes glaze over when science is discussed lol! The other day, DD and I were reading some explanation of a chemical process and it all sounded like mumbo jumbo to me although it made perfect sense to her.

Chem PhD here.
-I'll  to give a variety of information  I wish I had known back in high school.  Like DD (dear daughter?), chemistry always appealed to me.  I like bio but couldn't handle the rote memorization.  I liked physics, but math at the time came less naturally to me. 

-previous poster is correct in that HS classes don't matter much; what you learn there will be dwarfed by what you learn in college.  And if she goes to grad school, what she learns there will dwarf what she learned in college.  The most important part is that she realizes she likes it.

-generally speaking, chemistry career potential is good, though not perfect.  Depending on the specific subfield of chemistry, you may need a PhD or else you will be confined to lower level roles.  And there is a glut of chem PhD's on the market, so there is a lot of competition.  I have heard that it is even worse in biology, but not as bad in physics.

-chemistry has always been the field the links together other fields, and it continues to be that way.  It will behoove your DD to embrace other disciplines as well so that she can work well at the interface.

-Academia (college level teaching or research) right now is not a great option; competition is quite fierce due to the glut of PhDs and the stagnant number of university positions.  Not recommended unless it is her absolute passion.  I have plenty of friends who had to be adjunct profs (non-tenure track) for years before they could land their ideal 'small liberal arts school' dream, and many don't make it.  Chemistry profs (that will advice your DD) will often be unaware of the world outside of academia.  However, most people don't go into academia.  Therefore, the advice they give may not be relevant.

-Industry is a better option, but be wary of where the career-track will place you geographically.  Chemical companies are often in the NJ corridor, or Houston, or mid-michigan.  Not in typical Mustachian dream locations (Seattle, Portland, Colorado, etc...), though many of the locations are low-cost-of-living.  My chemistry profs never instilled this idea to me when I was in college, so it was an unfortunate surprise.

-to be honest, monetarily speaking and job-oppprtunities-wise, it is more efficient to pursue an engineering degree rather than a science.  If your DD is passionate about science  and not engineering, then it is a moot point; better off going to the field she loves.  But is she happens to do well in engineering, she is more likely to have an easier life.  That said, a chemistry career is still a good one.

-ok, i just saw your line about her not being thrilled about a more traditional chemist role (lab research, pharma, etc...).   In this case, she should definitely not go beyond a BS in chem (unless she wants to go into academia).  There are options out there; consulting, analyst jobs for intelligence agencies, science reporting (e.g. news).  I can't give a ton of info here as this was not the route I pursued.

There are exceptions to all of the things I noted above, but just wanted to give you a feel for what seems to be more common.

If she is passionate about chemistry, then I think your advice about going into that field and keeping her media-art skills going is a good idea.  I thinking finding a hybrid job will be hard, though there are always exceptions.  However, having good software/presentation/etc... skills will complement most any other type of job she can get.

dreams_and_discoveries

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2017, 08:54:01 AM »
Sounds like a perfect candidate for a computer science degree?

mm1970

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #25 on: May 02, 2017, 09:12:08 AM »
Chemistry PhD working in the chemical industry here.

When I was in high school, I REALLY wanted to major in English.  I was a pretty decent writer and loved reading, but I had a wonderful AP English teacher who strongly dissuaded me from studying humanities.  She said that I also had a knack for science, and that was a far smarter choice for future career path.  She advised me to keep the reading and writing as hobbies and focus on science.  I tried to double major in college in chemistry and English, but it was tough with all of the required laboratory courses.

If I could go back and do it all over again, I'd skip the PhD and get a terminal bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering.  The job prospects are better, and you earn as much as a PhD.  And here's the fun part - you don't have to work in a lab!  Chemistry and engineering degrees are worth so much these days - you can be a patent agent/attorney, science writer/editor, teacher, data analyst...etc...etc....and you can do design on the side!

Encourage your daughter to take at least one science class (chemistry, physics, biology) each semester to balance out the humanities.  It will provide the necessary requirements for just about any STEM field and provide some perspective.  If she hates it, well then, you can be proud of her for trying!

Has she considered architecture?  A good mix of design and science!

So, this is good right here.  I was really into chemistry and math in HS.  I also really liked history, English, and French.

I picked engineering because I was just better at math and science, and I figured it would pay better.

Majored in Chem Eng, have a master's in Eng administration (at nights, Navy paid for it, useful but not critical).

There's a wide variety of stuff you can do with a Chem Eng degree - I've done nuclear (Navy) and then moved on to manufacturing (photolithography), then on to full-on semiconductors.

Lots of other things - pharma, beauty products, oil&gas, food manufacturing, biomed...

mm1970

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #26 on: May 02, 2017, 09:14:29 AM »
M.S. in Chemistry here.   
I picked Chemistry because it was fun, little rote memorization (vs biology) and the math is generally less hard-core than physics.   If she were older she could have my job, but I'll be gone before she gets her B.S. degree.

My job is pretty fun, I've traveled most of the way around the world.    I could teach a bright H.S. student how to do the basics of my job, but a B.S. degree is necessary, both as a doorway and also because you learn how to BS and explain chemistry concepts to people (generally engineers).
 
My job also includes putting together presentations for my self and others and Word document preparation (graphs, tables, pics). 
A good book to read for geeky designers is  The Visual Display of Quantitative Information  by  Edward Tufte. 

Go Chemistry!

That's awesome and definitely the kind of thing that might interest my DD :) What kind of job do you have?

I work for a small branch of a larger company. 
We (small branch) do chemical decontaminations on nuclear power plant piping to reduce dose rates so others can work on the systems.  I get to work in the lab for preparation tests at the home office.  We then go to the plant to do the decontamination process (simple, safe chemistry), where I interact with the plant lab, the plant chemist and craftpersons like pipefitters.  Occasionally I have to go talk to the plant manager to adjust the schedule for the outage (which costs the plant manager ~$1M/day, so the questions need answers).   
One of the fun parts of my job is when people ask me semi-random questions that I really have to think about, and come up with an answer or a way to get an answer.   This happens more now that I've got 25+ years of experience.  If you want I can PM you my "unabridged resume", which is kind of like a diary of what I've done.

PS. I've also been a rocket scientist (really).

Margaret Thatcher (British Prime Minister 1979-1990) also started as a chemist (not a british pharmacist-).
This is pretty cool.  My first eng job was nuclear, and when I left the Navy, I got a phone call to interview for a job as a rocket scientist.  (Ended up in semiconductors because I wanted to live at the beach with my spouse, not the desert).

the_fixer

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2017, 10:05:21 AM »
My wife is a chemical engineer and she really enjoys it. Chemical engineering touches so many different industries / products that she is always getting to do something new and interesting.

She has multiple patents
developed photo lithography
developed solar back contacts
has worked in multiple chocolate factories
has worked for a wine producer
Has worked for a soup producer
has worked for for oil companies
Pharmaceutical companies
and much more


There are other chemical engineers out there that sit at a desk and do the same boring thing day in and day out but that can be with any career.

I should add that my wife was interested in Chemistry degrees but ended up going with the Chemical engineer path instead as it pays more and there was more opportunity she is happy with the choice.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2017, 10:23:36 AM by the_fixer »

elaine amj

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #28 on: May 02, 2017, 10:33:04 AM »
You all just get better and better! My mind is blown - I had no idea what people really did with chemistry-related degrees. I'm going to sit with my DD and go over each response and let her soak it all in. My main goal was to open her mind to all the possibilities out there and this is perfect. She has her whole life in front of her still and of course, nothing is set in stone at this young age :)

Case

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2017, 11:00:57 AM »
You all just get better and better! My mind is blown - I had no idea what people really did with chemistry-related degrees. I'm going to sit with my DD and go over each response and let her soak it all in. My main goal was to open her mind to all the possibilities out there and this is perfect. She has her whole life in front of her still and of course, nothing is set in stone at this young age :)

One word of caution about chemical engineering - it is not chemistry.  Chemical engineers don't spend much time learn about chemistry; they spend it learning about chemical engineering... and I would say it is closer to engineering than to chemistry.
This is not a knock to the profession - just pointing about that if your daughter is passionate about chemistry, she may not find the engineering side to be the seem.

Chemical engineering is overall the better choice, unless your passion lies in chemistry.
Probably encourage her to take a diversity of classes to figure out what she loves.  Btw, enjoyment of chemistry can be greatly impacted by the teacher.  Some people complain about organic chemistry being a bunch of rote memorization - it is often taught that way, but the good teachers make it more conceptual.

RussellMania

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #30 on: May 02, 2017, 12:52:08 PM »
-generally speaking, chemistry career potential is good, though not perfect.  Depending on the specific subfield of chemistry, you may need a PhD or else you will be confined to lower level roles.  And there is a glut of chem PhD's on the market, so there is a lot of competition.  I have heard that it is even worse in biology, but not as bad in physics.

As a Physics PhD, I will say that there are not many of us, but even fewer jobs looking for physics PhDs. Seriously, nobody knows what to do with a physicist.

Unless she really loves pure chemistry, I would definitely say engineering is the easier path. Easier to find jobs and/or easier to convince someone that you have the direct skills required for the job.

ysette9

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #31 on: May 02, 2017, 12:53:14 PM »
I started out as a chemistry major and then switched to ChemE. I am so glad I did. To be up front about it, it is a hard major. You have to bust your butt. The upside is that once you do that, you can prettt much do anything in life. At least I feel that way because anything after undergrad is going to be comparatively easier, and having that degree has opened up an amazing number of doors.

I got in with a big company and have found that once inside, I can pretty much do anything. I have never worked as a chemical engineer but spent many years as a materials engineer working on space products (satellites, science instruments, missiles, etc.). I've branched out to working on electrical components (how?! I don't know anything about them and quite frankly find them boring, but there you are). I did a short stint in manufacturing of composite materials, got into management, and nowadays have a job title of project engineer where my real role is to be an uber communicator to bridge the gap between a bunch of needy technical engineers, program management, the customer, and subcontractors. I second what others say that having a double skill set of being able to understand technical AND communicate well is a powerful combo.

Rylito

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #32 on: May 03, 2017, 12:42:13 AM »
Hi,

A couple more fields open to chem or chemE majors are:
--Environmental Health and Safety or Environmental Management (only a bachelor's degree is needed)
--Health Physics (need to be good at math for this, and take a radiochemistry course if possible while in college)
--Hazardous waste field remediation (a master's degree would be helpful to advance in this career, as would taking geology courses--maybe she would like geochemistry?)
--Computational chemistry: uses computer modeling to discover new compounds or investigate
 structure-activity relationships; I think this field would be very attractive to someone with a design background and an aptitude for math.

I only have a minor in chemistry but I am so glad for the life-long knowledge I have from those chemistry courses I took.  I can really understand the science behind environmental problems and which solutions will and won't work, and make much more informed choices as a consumer (I remember how excited I got during my first year of O Chem when I realized I could interpret what all the ingredients were on my shampoo bottle). 

elaine amj

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2017, 10:24:21 AM »
Man, you are all awesome. I emailed all your posts to my DD and she has made it through about 1/3 of them (going very slowly to absorb them). Even better, she started copying and pasting parts that she particularly liked into her own document!

BTW - she was fascinated with how many acronyms we use on here....she commented that we use way more acronyms than teens use!

Rylito

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #34 on: May 03, 2017, 10:46:17 AM »
I just happened to be on the ACS website this morning and found this free webinar on alternative careers in Chemistry:

https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/acs-webinars/professional-development/alt-careers.html

Wish your daughter good luck and keep us posted on her decisions!

elaine amj

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #35 on: October 02, 2018, 11:31:10 PM »
This was such an incredibly helpful discussion that my DD and I have turned back to again and again. She is due to graduate in Spring 2019 and she'd like to send in university applications by Dec 2018 (soon!!).

She was all set to apply for Chemical Engineering,  especially after she saw that it is still rated as one of the higher paying careers in Ontario. Then last weekend, we talked to a friend who graduated a couple of years ago with an engineering degree. He informed us the job market for engineers in Ontario is bleak. Upon further research, it appears engineering is an over-saturated market in Ontario (only 30% of grads actually end up working in engineering!! Although officially we are still told that Ontario needs engineers and scientists) and in particular,  chemical engineering is terrible for jobs here. If she was willing to go to the US, new grad jobs with high pay are considered easy to get. However, she says she has no interest in working in the US and she prefers to stay in our small city if at all possible.

She likes the sound of analytical chemistry but now is considering getting a Concurrent Bachelor of Science and Education (which takes 5 years). That way she has her Chem degree and can try for industry jobs (dunno if we are just dreaming here). If that fails, she can look into becoming a high school Chemistry teacher with a stable job and a sweet pension. Of course, getting in will be hard and we anticipate a couple of years on the supply lists. We have heard that with with science as a teachable, that she is more marketable. I have been studying the teacher labor market and by the time she graduates in 2024, there will likely be a reasonable demand for teachers again (instead of the current over-supply).

I have to admit - we are a bit frustrated after being told for years that STEM was a lucrative career path. Well, I have a daughter with a 90+ average who genuinely likes chemistry and excels in math and physics too. But we are just not seeing solid career potentials here (of course she is "handicapped" by her desire to avoid moving). But then again, I honestly don't know enough about STEM careers and maybe there is obvious stuff we are missing.

I know we are probably over-thinking this but she likes the idea of FIRE and frankly, marketability is important. I certainly don't want her to spend years in school to graduate to a bleak job market.

Hoping for any suggestions (especially from folks with current Ontario experience) about career possibilities.

Better Change

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Again...not a Canadian, but one of my best work colleagues is from New Brunswick, so we have ongoing discussions about chemistry careers in Canada.

First off, chemical engineer jobs in Canada are strongly tied to the lucrative oil industry.  With oil prices on the decline the past few years, the country lost a lot of the hot jobs.  This is true of Texas and the Gulf Coast region, too, so it isn't isolated to Canada.  As long as your daughter isn't super hot on oil jobs (which she doesn't seem to be), she won't be set up for disappointment.

Secondly, we've all mentioned how far an engineering degree can take a person.  The sky is still the limit.  Engineers have strong math skills, which makes them marketable for numerous industries.  If you're thinking solely "chemical engineering" jobs, then you're not thinking outside the box enough.  Sure, it might take a little bit of gumption, but that's true of just about any industry these days.  Seriously.  Nothing gets handed to you.  I'd still get an engineering degree, give the job market a shot, and then go back for a year to get the teaching degree if absolutely necessary.

I just returned from a trip to the DuPont facility in Kingston, Ontario.  They get lots of job applicants, but they also seem to be growing.  Job seekers sometimes have to take on contractual roles until they become full hires, but places like the Kingston facility try to convert the contractors to full time fairly quickly.

Your daughter seems to have a lot of things going for her:  she's eager, which really, really helps land a job.  She's becoming informed about the industry itself, which allows her to be flexible as she moves through her education.  She may need to consider working in the US for a couple of years to wait for jobs to open up in Ontario.  It might not be her top choice, but it's the reality for many fresh graduates, regardless of industry.  I have lived in places that I didn't particularly enjoy (away from family and friends), but now I'm where I prefer to be. 


Case

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Re: Chemistry-related careers (for my high school DD)
« Reply #37 on: October 03, 2018, 07:28:38 AM »
This was such an incredibly helpful discussion that my DD and I have turned back to again and again. She is due to graduate in Spring 2019 and she'd like to send in university applications by Dec 2018 (soon!!).

She was all set to apply for Chemical Engineering,  especially after she saw that it is still rated as one of the higher paying careers in Ontario. Then last weekend, we talked to a friend who graduated a couple of years ago with an engineering degree. He informed us the job market for engineers in Ontario is bleak. Upon further research, it appears engineering is an over-saturated market in Ontario (only 30% of grads actually end up working in engineering!! Although officially we are still told that Ontario needs engineers and scientists) and in particular,  chemical engineering is terrible for jobs here. If she was willing to go to the US, new grad jobs with high pay are considered easy to get. However, she says she has no interest in working in the US and she prefers to stay in our small city if at all possible.

She likes the sound of analytical chemistry but now is considering getting a Concurrent Bachelor of Science and Education (which takes 5 years). That way she has her Chem degree and can try for industry jobs (dunno if we are just dreaming here). If that fails, she can look into becoming a high school Chemistry teacher with a stable job and a sweet pension. Of course, getting in will be hard and we anticipate a couple of years on the supply lists. We have heard that with with science as a teachable, that she is more marketable. I have been studying the teacher labor market and by the time she graduates in 2024, there will likely be a reasonable demand for teachers again (instead of the current over-supply).

I have to admit - we are a bit frustrated after being told for years that STEM was a lucrative career path. Well, I have a daughter with a 90+ average who genuinely likes chemistry and excels in math and physics too. But we are just not seeing solid career potentials here (of course she is "handicapped" by her desire to avoid moving). But then again, I honestly don't know enough about STEM careers and maybe there is obvious stuff we are missing.

I know we are probably over-thinking this but she likes the idea of FIRE and frankly, marketability is important. I certainly don't want her to spend years in school to graduate to a bleak job market.

Hoping for any suggestions (especially from folks with current Ontario experience) about career possibilities.

The trouble with careers in Canada does not appear to be limited to chemistry, and in fact MMM himself relocated to the US for a job.  You don't often here of people going the other direction (for a job).  If you're daughter doesn't want to leave Canada, then again having an open/flexible mind with regards to career options is a good idea.  Also, instilling frugality in her would be another way to make it work (presuming staying in Canada means lower paying job for her, though that might not be correct).

I can't recall if we discussed the Canada aspect in much detail, but yes, I have heard on numerous occasions that chemistry careers are difficult in Canada.  I've especially heard that about jobs in academics; for whatever reasons, it seems that it is more difficult to get a tenure-track position in certain international English-speaking nations (Canada, Australia, NZ) than the US.  I have also heard that it is difficult to find industrial chemist positions in Canada as well.  Because of the increased competition in these areas, a PhD is going to be a must and it still wont be easy.  I've also heard similar gripes with regards to chemical industry jobs in Canada.

Some options that I know of:  Dow Chemical is headquartered in Midland MI.  It is close to Canada, and there are a small handful of Canadian employees who found it to be their best not-Canada option.  I will admit though that it is not uncommon for these individuals to wish they were actually in Canada; the one I'm thinking of complains about US politics and their inferiority to Canada all the time.
DuPont has a research site in Ontario along the border of New York.
Schenectady is the hub for GE (though I think they have spun off a number of their chemistry businesses at this point), and some resulting chemistry companies are in that area.
I'm sure there are more options... I only follow the big companies.  These all follow the traditional Chemistry PhD route, which is not the best of horizons.

I can't speak for the market for non-PhD chemistry positions (high school teacher, science illustrator, and various other things mentioned here or elsewhere).  The best I can probably recommend generally to your daughter if she does move forward with chemistry is to either 1) be the best, or 2) be flexible.  If you are really good and/or make it to the top institutions, you still can often find a good job in chemistry in most places.  But if you are not or are not a good schmoozer/etc... then a way to improve chances is to be open minded towards careers/jobs which might not be exactly what she envisioned but are tangentially related.

A final thought... it is good to plan things out in advance and try to find her a good career path... she is also very young and should move forward in life optimistic.  She still has a few years to make up her mind, and it is not uncommon for people to switch their career in college.  I know people who have gotten BS or even PhD that have completely changed direction/field after graduating, and it worked out for them.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 07:30:54 AM by Case »

I'm a red panda

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My husband has a B.S. in chemistry and a PhD in Medicinal and Natural Products Chemistry.
He works in industry as a research chemist at a biomedical company that makes custom DNA.

There are also many chemists in our area who work in food sciences or plastics.

Although my husband has done well with his PhD to find bench job that he enjoys, he would be making a ton more money if he stayed in the Air Force (he'd be a Lt.Col now) But the air force wasn't great at knowing what to do with a chemist, so it wasn't very rewarding work for him.  His PhD program also graduated a lot of people who struggled to find work. 10 years on the 8 in his cohort, there are 2 in industry, 2 adjunct professors, 1 high school teacher, and 3 who have gone back for PharmDs to be pharmacists.  Thankfully, the PhD was more of an opportunity cost than an actual one- as all in the program are paid stipends while doing them. No loans to pay back.

Better Change

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I also want to say that despite the numbers looking "bleak," there are so many great things your daughter can do to make herself more attractive to industry employers (source: I was/am a recruiter, though predominantly for PhDs).  Having research experience and doing internships qualify students far and above their peers who do neither of those things.  A letter of recommendation from an industrial researcher is clutch when applying for positions.  Is doing research and taking on an internship - potentially far from home over the summer - easy?  No way.  But STEM fields AREN'T easy, which is why the vast majority of people don't even try to get a degree in math/science/etc.  Don't put in 80% of the work and neglect the things that make for a top candidate.

I'd be happy to exchange some e-mails with your daughter about all of the things that look great on a CV.  :) 

 

markbike528CBX

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I also want to say that despite the numbers looking "bleak," there are so many great things your daughter can do to make herself more attractive to industry employers (source: I was/am a recruiter, though predominantly for PhDs).  Having research experience and doing internships qualify students far and above their peers who do neither of those things.  A letter of recommendation from an industrial researcher is clutch when applying for positions.  Is doing research and taking on an internship - potentially far from home over the summer - easy?  No way.  But STEM fields AREN'T easy, which is why the vast majority of people don't even try to get a degree in math/science/etc.  Don't put in 80% of the work and neglect the things that make for a top candidate.

I'd be happy to exchange some e-mails with your daughter about all of the things that look great on a CV.  :) 
 
When I was in grad school I  a chat with a visiting Japanese chemistry professor who was pissed that his Masters students were going into banking.   A STEM degree doesn't assure a job in the particular major studied, but with a little flexibility, makes it clear that the college program wasn't "the history of underwater basket weaving", and does assure that the graduate can think.

Better Change

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Yes, a master's degree in chemistry is a poor choice.  that's why all of the professor's students went into banking.  I usually advise people to stop at either the BS level or go onto the PhD - you will not find a satisfying career with an MS.  For those who have found solid careers with an MS, it's an exception rather than the norm.  And you've probably had to be flexible or another outside-the-box thinker to guide yourself down your preferred path.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 10:15:50 AM by Better Change »

I'm a red panda

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Yes, a master's degree in chemistry is a poor choice.  that's why all of the professor's students went into banking.  I usually advise people to stop at either the BS level or go onto the PhD - you will not find a satisfying career with an MS.  For those who have found solid careers with an MS, it's an exception rather than the norm.  And you've probably had to be flexible or another outside-the-box thinker to guide yourself down your preferred path.

I've heard (a bit flippantly) that if you show up for a chemistry job with a master's they will ask you why. It's assumed it is because you couldn't pass comps in a PhD program and were handed one as a consulation prize on your way out the door.

(Of course, if you had a clearly different undergrad like English or Political science, then the master's makes more sense.)

Better Change

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It's a dirty little (not so) secret that those with MS degrees in chemistry are treated poorly.  Big Corps love to apply rules to everything, and they'd rather hold certain groups of people to artificial ceilings than work with individuals to guide their careers meaningfully.  Oftentimes it's not that a person lacked the abilities to finish the PhD, but rather that personal reasons or unresolved issues with advisors/departments/etc. kept them from grinding out the 80 hour work weeks.  It's a shame that we're more apt to reward those who are stubborn and make it through that marathon than those who might actually be more talented or qualified, but like so many things in the corporate world, it's tough to change.

This is why it's STILL VERY SMART to get a BS in ChemE.  It's shielded from some of the straight chemistry nonsense, and the earning power is nearly identical.

Novik

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I know a lot of Chem Engs who went into the field when 'everyone' was hiring, and graduated without finding a job in their field. Same with Mining Engineering grads - the nature of degrees where so many jobs are in resource extraction cyclical fields. Still, overall a Sciency Engineering degree tends to provide more employment prospects than a straight Science degree (but can be harder and much more time consuming during the degree!).

Something you may already know - some engineering schools in Ontario have common first year programs (off the top of my head, at least mcmaster, queen's, UofT) buying time for your daughter to figure out her options.

Lastly, here's a couple curveball ideas that lean away from the chemistry trend:
  • If she likes the CAD/design aspect, as well as math, what about architecture or a related field (architecture technician or architectural engineer)?
  • If she likes the electronic design aspect, what about computer science or computer engineering?* (lots of front end developer work out there for someone with technical chops and design skills)

* yes, this suggestion is biased by my career path, but it's something too many women never consider, a lucrative career option, and I'm not sure if your DD has had any exposure to programming (another thing common first year engineering programs can be good for).

mm1970

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Again...not a Canadian, but one of my best work colleagues is from New Brunswick, so we have ongoing discussions about chemistry careers in Canada.

First off, chemical engineer jobs in Canada are strongly tied to the lucrative oil industry.  With oil prices on the decline the past few years, the country lost a lot of the hot jobs.  This is true of Texas and the Gulf Coast region, too, so it isn't isolated to Canada.  As long as your daughter isn't super hot on oil jobs (which she doesn't seem to be), she won't be set up for disappointment.

Secondly, we've all mentioned how far an engineering degree can take a person.  The sky is still the limit.  Engineers have strong math skills, which makes them marketable for numerous industries. If you're thinking solely "chemical engineering" jobs, then you're not thinking outside the box enough.  Sure, it might take a little bit of gumption, but that's true of just about any industry these days.  Seriously.  Nothing gets handed to you.  I'd still get an engineering degree, give the job market a shot, and then go back for a year to get the teaching degree if absolutely necessary.

I just returned from a trip to the DuPont facility in Kingston, Ontario.  They get lots of job applicants, but they also seem to be growing.  Job seekers sometimes have to take on contractual roles until they become full hires, but places like the Kingston facility try to convert the contractors to full time fairly quickly.

Your daughter seems to have a lot of things going for her:  she's eager, which really, really helps land a job.  She's becoming informed about the industry itself, which allows her to be flexible as she moves through her education.  She may need to consider working in the US for a couple of years to wait for jobs to open up in Ontario.  It might not be her top choice, but it's the reality for many fresh graduates, regardless of industry.  I have lived in places that I didn't particularly enjoy (away from family and friends), but now I'm where I prefer to be.
I agree with this, but it's also tricky.  Sometimes hindsight is 20/20.

Here on this site we look at people with tons of college debt and no job and say "you should have not borrowed so much."
We say "you should have chosen a major where you can get a job.  STEM is the way to go."
Sometimes we say "Liberal arts majors can get great jobs too!"

The fact of the matter is, we don't really know right now what jobs are going to be available in 4 years or 10 years.  We are only guessing.

A good degree in engineering opens doors because you learn how to solve problems.  But it doesn't mean you are going to work in that.

It also doesn't mean you are going to get the job you want and where you want.

My career is 26 years long now.
I've done chemistry for nuclear power plants
I've done photolithography in a mfg plant making disk drives
I've done a crap ton of semiconductors (every level of the process)
I've done design and product engineering for transistors.  I didn't learn about transistors in college.  I learned it on the job.
Now, like ysette, I'm in programs and translating what people need.

I've moved from PA to DC to CA.  I've made tough decisions, like my pay sucks and where I live  now is a small town.  So...if I stay, which I am, I am accepting that.

It's absolutely fine if 30% of engineers are working in engineering.  Just make sure that you know what the average starting salary is for ALL graduates. 

markbike528CBX

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Yes, a master's degree in chemistry is a poor choice.  that's why all of the professor's students went into banking.  I usually advise people to stop at either the BS level or go onto the PhD - you will not find a satisfying career with an MS.  For those who have found solid careers with an MS, it's an exception rather than the norm.  And you've probably had to be flexible or another outside-the-box thinker to guide yourself down your preferred path.
Actually, this was at the top of the Japanese banking boom ~1989, so I'm sure that they had a job for a while.

And, yes a Master's at a PhD university is a booby prize. I got one and had a great career to the extent I retired early.  I just wanted a summer sabbatical and that morphed into full FIRE.  Thankfully, I was prepared for that, and kinda wanted that to happen.   I liked the job, the people, but just needed a break.  Also, we were being more fully integrated with the rest of the company, which means more BS like meetings etc.

Also note that if you get a PhD you almost certainly will not be doing work in industry that is a continuation of your thesis.   A PhD means that you've done original research and are THE expert in the small piece of chemistry or other field.   It is unlikely to have immediate commercial value.  Plus you've probably burnt out on the topic after 4-6years working on it.

elaine amj

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I agree with this, but it's also tricky.  Sometimes hindsight is 20/20.

Here on this site we look at people with tons of college debt and no job and say "you should have not borrowed so much."
We say "you should have chosen a major where you can get a job.  STEM is the way to go."
Sometimes we say "Liberal arts majors can get great jobs too!"

The fact of the matter is, we don't really know right now what jobs are going to be available in 4 years or 10 years.  We are only guessing.


So true. Yet, we are trying to make an educated guess. So I've been reading detailed labor market studies :) :)

You hear so much of people graduating, struggling to find a job, then people saying "We'll, it was obvious the job market was trending terribly for that career you studied for".

So trying to consider the ROI of potential studies, especially since she isn't massively passionate about a particular job but is open to considering different options. Was just hoping she would be able to take advantage of her science bent for more lucrative careers.


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mm1970

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I agree with this, but it's also tricky.  Sometimes hindsight is 20/20.

Here on this site we look at people with tons of college debt and no job and say "you should have not borrowed so much."
We say "you should have chosen a major where you can get a job.  STEM is the way to go."
Sometimes we say "Liberal arts majors can get great jobs too!"

The fact of the matter is, we don't really know right now what jobs are going to be available in 4 years or 10 years.  We are only guessing.


So true. Yet, we are trying to make an educated guess. So I've been reading detailed labor market studies :) :)

You hear so much of people graduating, struggling to find a job, then people saying "We'll, it was obvious the job market was trending terribly for that career you studied for".

So trying to consider the ROI of potential studies, especially since she isn't massively passionate about a particular job but is open to considering different options. Was just hoping she would be able to take advantage of her science bent for more lucrative careers.


---------------------

Got arm-twisted by @Prospector to edit my signature ;)
I Survived CM*TO 2018 and am looking forward to Hippie Money Camp - Toronto 2019. Join us to find out just why VolleyHockeyBall is the best game ever!

This is my attitude too.  Having your options be open (always) can lead to bigger and better things throughout the career!

Better Change

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Most lucrative careers are going to require a certain tolerance for risk.  That's why those jobs are lucrative.  They attract the kinds of people who are energized, flexible, and can hack the training to get the degrees/certifications.  Or you know, the sociopaths.  :-P

Really, the only way to hedge your bets for a stable job close to home is to look at your very small local job market.  In reality, I could not be a chemist or chemical engineer where I grew up.  I'd probably have to live at least 30 miles away in the nearby metropolitan areas.  And I still wouldn't have the "lucrative" (higher paying, better upward mobility) that I have now.

On the whole, my engineer friends are far more financially secure than my non-engineer friends, even with multiple job changes.  But I fully support a first year university curriculum that allows for the exploration of a variety of potential job fields.  I also believe that a lot of students think that the college degree is a guaranteed entry into a great job, and it's not.  Even for engineers.