Chemistry Professor Job Description

A Chemistry Professor generally holds a Ph.D. and may work in research, teaching, or other related fields. Chemistry is the branch of science studying the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter. It's useful for both academic studies as well as industrial applications.

What will be your responsibilities and duties?

Chemistry professors are responsible for teaching, publishing research, guiding graduate students in their studies, and performing administrative work depending on the college or university they are employed by.

What will you need to prove your ability to do the job?

Prospective Chemistry Professors will generally need a Ph.D. degree related to their intended area of study or teaching certificate in some states. A strong background in chemistry is also necessary, some positions may require additional knowledge within other disciplines.

Prospective candidates should have an interest in working with younger people through undergraduate-level classes as well as graduate studies. Additionally, it's important that Chemistry Professors display creativity and innovation when designing new curriculums or updating existing ones. Lastly, effective communication skills are key when it comes down to presentation and working with students one-on-one.

What knowledge and skills will you need to work in this job?

Chemistry Professors should possess a strong background in chemistry, exceptional communication skills, and experience in teaching or research. Additionally, it's important that prospective candidates can apply creative ideas when designing new courses. Finally, it's beneficial if Chemistry Professors have the ability to cope with heavy workloads throughout the year as well as deal with difficult individuals such as unhappy parents or unruly students.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • Preparing lesson plans and lectures - Chemistry is broken up into different branches so professors need to be well versed in their chosen specialties
  • Teaching chemistry at the academic level - This often includes leading classes through complex subjects, being able to answer questions students may have, as well as grading papers or exams
  • Performing research - Many Chemistry Professors are required to publish articles for peer-reviewed journals and present findings at conferences around the world
  • Promoting student development outside of class - College courses are not simply about teaching facts or passing tests. It's important that professors work with students one-on-one helping them develop essential skills for future success.
  • Working closely with other departments - Chemistry is a focal point of many different disciplines and working closely with faculty from these areas is an important part of the job.

What will your working environment look like?

Most Chemistry Professors work within a lab setting however some colleges require professors to teach classes both on-campus and online. There isn't a large difference between working with students at the undergraduate or graduate level, that said professors will likely have more administrative responsibilities when dealing with graduate programs.

Negative working environments would consist of dealing with a high workload and low levels of funding, especially for more senior-level professors.

What personal characteristics should you have to get along in this job?

It's important that Chemistry Professors are friendly individuals who can get on well with students and faculty members from other disciplines. Creativity is essential when it comes down to designing new curriculums or updating existing ones. Finally being able to cope with heavy workloads throughout the year as well as dealing with difficult people such as unhappy parents or unruly students will make your time easier.

What software and tools will you use as a chemistry professor?

Chemistry Professors use a variety of tools in their everyday workflow. The majority of them use a lab coat and safety glasses while working with chemicals, some may also use goggles. Computers are an essential part of the job as professors teach online courses so they should be proficient in most office software such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint.

Do you need related experience?

Aspiring Chemistry Professors should have completed undergraduate coursework within the subject along with graduate work if looking to teach at this level. It's also beneficial for applicants to have experience within research projects and working closely with students early on in their careers.

Generally speaking, it takes years, or possibly even decades, to become a Chemistry Professor due to the intricate knowledge required and lengthy training period.

What will you get from this vacancy?

Chemistry Professors can expect to earn on average between $57,000 and $86,000. However more senior-level positions such as department chairs may command salaries upwards of $150,000. The cost of living varies greatly based on region but larger cities tend to offer the highest wages for this job.

How do you advance in your career?

At a certain point in their career most Chemistry Professors advance by taking on administrative roles within their universities. More senior faculty members with a strong track record in research or publication may move into a full-time teaching role which can lead to better pay when teaching at the graduate level.

In terms of promotion, it's essential that professors have their own laboratory space so they can move into a position running their own independent research program.

Position titles that you may come across include:

  • Chemistry Lecturer - They teach classes for college students and often handle one specific area of chemistry such as Organic Chemistry or Inorganic Chemistry.
  • Chemistry Professor - This is a higher-level faculty position that includes a heavy focus on research and publication. These individuals spend much less time in the classroom, holding office hours to work closely with students. They must have ample experience working within a lab setting before being considered for this role.
  • Associate Professor - For those who have held the title of professor for 7–10 years as well as actively publishing papers or leading research programs they may advance to this level which means they can begin to work with graduate students and take on more administrative roles in their department.
  • Department Chair - More senior faculty members who have been active for around 15 years may be able to advance into the role of the department chair, this position is often chosen by a vote from within the faculty and is an administrative role that works closely with other departments.

In terms of promotion, it's essential that professors have their own laboratory space so they can move into a position running their own independent research program.

How much do chemistry professors earn?

The average salary for a Chemistry Professor is between $57,000 and $86,000. This salary differs based on the institution, for example, Chemists working at the post-secondary level earned an average of $83,010 in last year according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chemists working in pharmaceuticals averaged around $69,380 while those specializing in scientific research earned almost double that rate at just under $119,700 a year.

When working for colleges and universities, many staff members receive payment based on their years of service within the company. For junior-level employees, this will mean lower salaries however it does provide job security. For more experienced teachers this structure may be changed or discontinued altogether depending on the school's policies. A good rule of thumb says that if you're starting out at a new university, expect a cut to your salary.

Do you need special courses to apply for this position?

Although not always necessary, Chemistry Professors that have taken additional coursework or even a master's degree in their subject area will have a clear advantage. These individuals may be able to teach courses earlier on and would likely have more publications under their belt as well as an easier time advancing through the ranks.

Specialized training or knowledge in certain areas of chemistry such as Organic Chemistry or Inorganic Chemistry can also help professors to become familiar with specific techniques and problems that students would face during their studies.

How to apply for this position?

Chemistry Professors must hold a Ph.D. in their field of study and have solid experience working within a lab alongside other chemists and researchers. It's also important to be able to demonstrate your ability to teach and communicate with students, either through published works or teaching experience at the high school or university level.

On top of all that it is essential that you are familiar enough with current chemistry practices and theories as well as funding opportunities that can help universities offer more courses for students over time. Most Chemistry Professors find work 4 years after earning their degree by networking with faculty members already working within the university setting.

Now that you know what it takes to become a Chemistry Professor, search Jobs by Indeed or Monster online for current vacancies.

The interview process

The interview process for this position will consist of multiple stages. The first round of interviews is likely to be an initial phone or Skype conversation with the department head, followed by campus visits and potentially several rounds of on-site interviews if they feel you're a good fit for their program.

During the final phases of the hiring process, you may come across group questionnaires which are usually used to get feedback from your current colleagues. You can expect these types of questions so it's important that you conduct a thorough research about the company ahead of time. Make sure your communication skills are top-notch and review all necessary materials so there aren't any surprises during the interview stage!

Internship on this position

To gain experience in this position and learn more about what it takes to work within a Chemistry Department, try looking for an internship. Internships can be offered part-time during the school year or full-time throughout the summer break and will provide you with hands-on knowledge in your subject area while also helping you make valuable contacts.

Where do you fit in with the government's job titles classification?

Chemistry Professors fall under the broader umbrella of teachers which is described as follows: "Teachers plan, organize, instruct and evaluate learning experiences to help people attain the knowledge and develop the skills they need to fulfill their goals and potential." (AUS)

What schools would suit Chemistry Professors?

A Bachelor's degree in Chemistry will be required for entry into this profession. Certain universities may require applicants to have completed Master or Doctoral studies depending on their field of research or focus. Many Colleges only hire Chemistry Professors who also have experience teaching at the post-secondary level so it helps if interested candidates can secure a position within this area early on.

If you're looking for a job that will allow you to teach and research within the field of Chemistry, your best chance of finding this type of work is at either 2 or 4-year colleges as well as universities.

What other positions can you try with the relevant background?

If you are qualified to teach in one specific subject area it is possible for you to apply for related jobs. For example, if you attempt to become a Physics Professor some of the teaching positions that might interest you are: Middle School Science Teacher or High School Math Teacher.

Also, you can try yourself in other areas like Science Lab Technician and/or purchasing positions such as Chemical Technician.

The perspective of this profession

There are usually job openings for this occupation, or at least each year there will be people leaving it (and others joining) due to retirement and attrition. As mentioned above the job outlook is expected to grow at 1-5% which may not sound like much but it is still relevant considering the current state of the economy.

Advantages and disadvantages of a chemistry professor position

This job is rewarding because it allows you to have more creative freedom with your research or teaching style. This type of work will also give you the opportunity to interact with students, many of whom are on track to become future leaders within their fields. The downside is that this profession may require you to keep learning new things every year in order to stay up-to-date and competitive in your field.

As a chemistry professor, there's no such thing as too many books! Make sure your personal library contains all necessary resources for conducting research and keeping up with industry standards. Click here for some good choices!

To conclude, becoming a Chemistry Professor requires an advanced degree and can be extremely satisfying but remember: "those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it!" Make the most of your time on campus by participating in student organizations, working part-time on-campus, or even interning with a professor. These opportunities are what you make them but there are definitely some that are more beneficial than others!