Use your subject


Think about what 'using your subject' means to you and what you're really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it's a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?

As a start, use the resources below to create your own list of career ideas to research.

Remember that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject.

  • Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
  • Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
  • Browse the career ideas for Chemistry graduates on Prospects and Targetjobs but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
  • Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start-ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject.

Some career options

Our information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start to explore the following occupational areas. However you are not restricted to these and you should also consider any other additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.

Analytical chemist

Analytical chemists work in laboratories to analyse, discover and develop new scientific products such as medicines, by conducting careful/precise experimental research using specialist analytical techniques. You will understand and comply with health and safety and quality testing regulations as these are crucial to ensure the safety of future new drug users.

Other related job titles include experimental chemist, cancer researcher, forensic scientist, lab technician, quality control (QC) chemist.

Use our Occupations section Scientific research, analysis and support for more information and links to useful websites.

Environmental scientist / consultant

Undertakes environmental impact assessments/research and offers expert advice to both commercial and public sector organisations on issues such as waste management, flood risk, renewable energy, utility companies' compliance with environmental legislation and regulations.

This can involve data collection and analysis, conducting field surveys and using software-modelling packages and then producing detailed technical reports, which you then present to clients considering suitability of new developments eg housing, power stations, wind farms in relation to potential impacts on the environment.

New entrants will usually have a relevant environmental postgraduate qualification, or work experience in an organisation related to the area they are interested in.

Use our Occupations section Environment and conservation for more information and links to useful websites.

Food technologist

Works for food manufacturers on the development of manufacturing processes and the recipes of food and drink products. They may work on using ingredients to invent new recipes, and/or modify existing foods to create products such as fat-free foodstuffs or ready meals.

Use our Occupations section Scientific research and development for more information and links to useful websites.

NHS clinical scientist trainee

Science graduates aiming to become managers in an NHS healthcare science team setting will be provided with on-the-job training and a Masters qualification once they have obtained a place on the UK NHS’ Clinical Scientist Training Programme (STP).

Chemists can specialise in areas including clinical pharmaceutical science, clinical biochemistry and clinical bioinformatics - some roles are more hands-on/patient-facing; others are more lab or research focused such as Technician or Healthcare Science Associate.

There is also a specific medical physicist role for those who succeed to obtain a place on this path

Other specialist areas include, in a research based role, rehabilitation scientist or clinical bioinformatician. Alternatively you may work in a practical client/patient-facing role, as a hands-on technician or healthcare science associate.

Use our Occupations section Healthcare scientist for more information and links to useful websites.

Operational researcher

Operational research uses mathematical modelling, computer software and other methods to help organisations make strategic business decisions and develop better systems. The methods used enable effective analysis of complex situations and possible solutions.

Operational researchers need strong mathematical ability and quantitative and data analysis skills, as well as essential communication skills to explain solutions to different people. The variety of sectors and types of work that Operational researchers do is one of the attractions of the role.

Use our Occupations section Data science for more information and links to useful websites.

Patent attorney / patent examiner

If you have an interest in law, a methodical and meticulous attention to detail and excellent written communication skills you may enjoy applying your technical background and engineering degree to this area of work.

In this role you will assess whether inventions are eligible to be patented by searching through existing records of patents that have been approved and assessing whether the new product is sufficiently new and innovative. You will develop extensive knowledge of intellectual property law and have highly honed skills in drafting patents.

You may also advise companies and individuals through the process of gaining a patent or enforcing infringements.

Use our Occupations section Patents for more information and links to useful websites.

Research and development / formulation chemist

R&D chemists help discover, invent and develop new pharmaceuticals/medicines as well as petrochemicals, houseful goods, toiletries, foods and lifestyle/sports products and materials - including plastics and polymers. R&D chemists apply their advanced technical laboratory skills as well as keep accurate up to date lab records and present findings/reports to their colleagues.

You could work in a wide range of different industries in different countries; fluency in another language is useful working for a global pharma company.

Use our Occupations section Scientific research for more information and links to useful websites.

Science communicator / writer

Science writers prepare and deliver professional presentations on science-related topics to non-experts, including the general public as well as professionals in other disciplines. Opportunities range from schools outreach in HE to scientific events management with science communication agencies, public relations roles with learned societies, or education officer roles in science museums.

Some of the larger charities, eg Cancer Research UK or Wellcome Trust, may offer graduate schemes in areas like policy, public engagement and communications.

Science communicators also work in specialist publishing, journalism and broadcasting.

Use our Occupations section Scientific information and outreach for more information and links to useful websites.

Scientific researcher

Researchers work in a variety of organisations and agencies, in academia, public and private sectors.

The role involves collecting and analysing information and data in a range of different fields (everything from health, finance, government policy and consumer preferences) and presenting that information to other colleagues or clients via written reports, presentations or digital communication.

Roles often specialise either in quantitative (working with statistics) or qualitative (analysing non-numerical data) research and provide information that helps colleagues or clients make political, social and economic decisions.

Use our Occupations section Scientific research for more information and links to useful websites.

Secondary school teacher (Chemistry)

Teachers usually work with pupils aged 11-18 years old. You will design and deliver engaging Chemistry 'GCSE' and 'A' level lessons, monitor your pupils' progress, and prepare classes for external exams in line with national curricula.

You will show patience, an interest in young people and an ability to establish a positive learning environment, up-to-date scientific subject knowledge and excellent teamwork, organisational and communication skills.

Teaching in further education colleges is also an option but fewer opportunities exist.

Use our Occupations section Primary, secondary and special needs for more information and links to useful websites.