What is an Organic Chemistry Professor?
Organic Chemistry Professors teach and conduct research in the field of organic chemistry. They find jobs at institutions such as colleges and universities, medical schools, and government institutions.
What does an Organic Chemistry Professor do?
They teach and conduct research, publish papers in journals, and apply for major grants. They also advise students of both undergraduate and graduate levels.
An organic chemistry professor must have a bachelor's degree with a major in organic chemistry or biochemistry. Beyond this, specific requirements will vary by the type of college or university they find employment at as well as the institution's location. For example, schools near a medical school may require instruction on anatomy and physiology whereas schools located in different regions may focus more on environmental issues unique to that area.
Additionally, they must be able to work independently or with a team to complete projects on time while maintaining high standards of academic quality.
They must also be able to adapt to change and learn new information quickly.
Essential skills an Organic Chemistry Professor needs
- Strong Knowledge of Organic Chemistry - This is an obvious one, but it is essential that a professor have an in-depth understanding of organic chemistry.
- The Ability to Teach - Most organic chemistry professors are faculty members in colleges or universities where they teach students at various levels, from introductory college courses to graduate seminars. They must be knowledgeable enough about the subject matter to teach others and able to convey complex concepts effectively.
- Teamwork - Organic chemistry professors will often work with other scientists on research projects that require teamwork skills that may not have been needed when working alone in a lab for many years. Teaching also requires teamwork since it is important for instructors to cooperate with faculty colleagues and administrative staff who help handle logistics.
- Critical Thinking Skills - For their research, professionals will need to use critical thinking skills so they can find potential problems, look at all aspects of an issue, and come to a well-informed conclusion.
- Strong Writing Skills - To be successful in research, organic chemistry professors must publish papers in peer-reviewed journals. In order to do this, they must have strong writing skills so they can communicate their findings in a clear and concise manner.
- Excellent Organization Skills - Professors must be able to effectively manage their time and stay organized while juggling many different tasks, such as teaching, conducting research, meeting with students, and publishing papers.
- The Ability to Multitask - This is especially important for professors who also have administrative duties in addition to teaching and research.
- Flexibility - The field of organic chemistry is constantly changing, so professors must be able to adapt quickly and learn new information.
- Strong Analytical Skills - Professors must be able to analyze data and results from their research in order to understand what they mean and determine further steps to take.
- The Ability to Problem Solve - When conducting research, professors often encounter unexpected problems that they need to find solutions for.
- Curiosity - A strong sense of curiosity is important for all scientists as it drives them to ask questions and explore new ideas.
- Patience - Conducting research can often be a slow process, so researchers must have patience in order to see their projects through to the end.
- Passion for Science - This is essential for any scientist, but especially for those in academia who must teach and conduct research for many years.
- The Ability to Mentor Students - Professors must be able to mentor students, provide guidance, and offer support when needed.
- A Strong Work Ethic - This is another essential quality for any scientist, as it allows them to work long hours when necessary and produce high-quality results.
- Creativity - In order to come up with new ideas for research projects, professors must be creative.
- A Good Sense of Humor - Although organic chemistry can be a difficult subject, professors must be able to keep a sense of humor and remain positive when teaching working with others.
- A Sense of Urgency - Professors who work in the corporate sector may need to meet deadlines and work quickly.
- Reliability - As professionals, professors must be reliable and responsible so others can count on them to do their jobs well and on time.
- A High Level of Integrity - Most professional organic chemistry professors conduct research at colleges or universities where they are held accountable for their actions since they represent an institution's reputation as well as their own. They must behave ethically so they uphold the school's values at all times, even when not being observed by anyone else.
All of these qualities are important for any organic chemistry professor, but it's important to note that not everyone may have all of them. Some professors may be more analytical than creative, while others may have a stronger work ethic than a sense of humor. The most important thing is that they have some combination of these qualities and are able to use them effectively in their professional life.
How To Become an Organic Chemistry Professor
Although requirements for organic chemistry professors vary depending on the specific job, it's typically necessary to first earn a bachelor's degree and then a Ph.D. in the field of organic chemistry. From there, aspiring professors usually complete postdoctoral work and publish research papers before finding jobs as assistant professors at colleges or universities where they teach and conduct research.
- Bachelor's Degree: Although some future organic chemistry professors may not take any science classes during their undergraduate years, earning a bachelor's degree in this subject is an important first step if pursuing an advanced degree later on. Some schools may also offer combined programs that allow students to earn both their undergraduate and graduate degrees in four years instead of five or six by taking the extra time during school breaks to complete coursework.
- Ph.D.: After completing a bachelor's degree, the next step for many aspiring organic chemistry professors is to pursue a Ph.D. in the field. This advanced degree allows students to conduct their own research and become experts in the subject.
- Postdoctoral Work: After completing their Ph.D., many new organic chemistry professors complete postdoctoral work, which is a period of time typically spent conducting research at a university or other research institution.
- Teaching and Research Jobs: Once they have completed all of the necessary steps, many new organic chemistry professors find jobs as assistant professors at colleges or universities where they teach undergraduate and graduate courses as well as to conduct their own research.
What Should I Major in to Become an Organic Chemistry Professor?
As with any career, it's important to major in the subject you're most interested in. If you enjoy chemistry and like working with others, then earning a bachelor's degree or Ph.D. in organic chemistry can be an excellent option for pursuing this type of job. Earning advanced degrees is the recommended path to becoming an organic chemist, but some scientists choose not to complete all of their studies before beginning work as assistant professors at colleges or universities where they teach undergraduates and conduct research.
How Long Does it Take to Become an Organic Chemistry Professor?
Becoming an organic chemistry professor typically takes many years. Depending on the specific job, it may be necessary to first earn a bachelor's degree, then a Ph.D., and finally complete postdoctoral work. It can also take many years to publish research papers and find a job as an assistant professor. However, these are just general guidelines and requirements may vary depending on the individual and the institution.
Most Common Colleges for Organic Chemistry Professor
Some of the most common colleges and universities where students can earn bachelor's degrees in this subject area include Oregon Health & Science University, Johns Hopkins University, Texas A&M University - College Station, Columbia University in the City of New York, and Brigham Young University - Provo. Some of the most commonly attended graduate schools for students interested in pursuing a career as an organic chemistry professor include Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and North Carolina State College at Raleigh.
Many Future Organic Chemistry Professor Attend Inorganic Chemistry Job Fair
In addition to attending college or university directly after graduating from high school or earning an equivalent degree from a junior college or technical school that allows students to work while earning their degree, some students opt to attend specialized fairs or events where they can meet representatives from the companies hiring new graduates. The largest of these events is called the ACS Inorganic Chemistry Jobs Fair, which was created for students interested in chemistry-related fields. After growing quickly in its first few years, this event now attracts more than 5,000 participants from around the country and offers jobs at a number of top employers from around the world.
Benefits of Being an Organic Chemistry Professor
There are many benefits to becoming an organic chemistry professor. One of the most important is that professors get to work in a field they're passionate about and help students learn and explore this subject area. They also typically have flexible working hours, which can be helpful for people with families. In addition, professors often have the opportunity to travel and present their research at conferences. Finally, professors generally earn a good salary and have the potential to advance their careers by becoming department heads, deans, or other positions of authority within a college or university.
Drawbacks of Being an Organic Chemistry Professor
There are also a few potential drawbacks to becoming an organic chemistry professor. One is that professors often have to work long hours, especially when preparing for classes or grading exams. Another is that it can be difficult to find a job at a top college or university, and even if one is hired, the pay may not be as high as one would hope. Finally, it's important to note that many professors spend a great deal of their time on research in addition to teaching, which can take away from time spent with family and friends.
The following are some of the key responsibilities associated with this role::
- Teaching undergraduate and graduate students in organic chemistry:
Organic chemistry professors are responsible for teaching undergraduate and graduate students in this subject area. This may involve lecturing, conducting lab work, and assigning and grading homework and exams.
Many professors also engage in research, which can involve studying new molecules or reactions, developing new methods or techniques, and publishing papers in journals.
- Advising students:
Professors also often advise students on their academic and professional goals. This may include helping them select classes, preparing for graduate school or jobs, and networking with other professionals in the field.
- Attending meetings:
Professors are also typically expected to attend faculty meetings and serve on committees at theirs.
One of the most important things to consider when becoming an organic chemistry professor is whether this career is a good fit for the individual. People should be sure that they have a strong interest in teaching and research because it's likely they'll spend the majority of their time working on these tasks.
Average Organic Chemistry Professor Salary by Education Level
Organic chemistry professors typically make between $78,000 and $147,332 each year. However, the amount of salary increase with the level of education varies considerably. For example, those who hold PhDs usually make about $30,000 more than people with master's degrees (median average).
Average Salary of Organic Chemistry Professor by State
As is the case with most jobs, organic chemistry professors in some states earn more than in others. For example, they typically make $95,000 or less annually in Louisiana and Utah but up to $147,332 per year in New Jersey.
Average Salary of an Organic Chemistry Professor by Age
Organic chemistry professors earn relatively small salaries during their early years. However, the average pay increases quickly between ages 35 and 45 when they often begin earning around $103,000 each year. This trend continues until professors reach retirement when their pay typically decreases to around $92,000 annually.
Career Pathways for Organic Chemistry Professor
There are a few different career pathways that an organic chemistry professor may take. Most commonly, they become professors at colleges or universities. However, some may also work as researchers for private companies or government organizations. Finally, a few professors may choose to move into administrative roles within their institution, such as department head, dean, or president.
The following are some potential career pathways for an organic chemistry professor:
- College or University Professor:
This is the most common career pathway for organic chemistry professors. They typically work at a college or university teaching undergraduate and graduate students in organic chemistry and conducting research.
- Researcher for Private Company:
Some organic chemistry professors may work as researchers for private companies. This may involve developing new chemicals or substances for pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and other uses.
- Administrative Roles:
Organic chemistry professors may also advance to higher administrative roles in their institution such as department head, dean, or president.
Organic Chemistry Professor Career Outlook
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 14 percent increase in employment of college and university professors from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. The large number of students enrolling in college should contribute to very strong competition for teaching jobs as new PhD graduates line up teaching jobs before entering the job market.