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Job Market Dynamics

More recruiters on campus are a sign that 2008 will be a good year for new chemistry graduates

by Corinne A. Marasco
November 5, 2007 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 85, Issue 45

Credit: istockphoto
Credit: istockphoto

CHEMICAL SCIENTISTS and engineers of the Class of 2008 who are looking for jobs might find the strongest job market seen since 2001. It may be too early to tell whether the coming year will be a seller's market, but all signs indicate that the situation is brighter than it has been in recent years.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports in the 2006–07 edition of the "Occupational Outlook Handbook" that employment of chemists and material scientists is expected to grow more slowly than average, yet some sectors will experience higher growth than others. For example, job opportunities are expected to be more plentiful in pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms, fed by competition among drug companies and an aging workforce. Employment growth for chemical engineers, on the other hand, is expected to be faster compared with that for chemists, with the best opportunities in the pharmaceutical, energy, biotechnology, and nanotechnology industries.

In this issue, C&EN reporters examine various facets of employment in the chemical sciences. For our annual story on the outlook for job seekers, we talk to recruiters, company representatives, and university department heads about their impressions of hiring for the coming year. While the future may not be bright enough to wear shades, in most cases, things are looking up.

Complementing the job outlook are three stories that explore career transitions. First, for foreign nationals who want to work in the U.S. before returning home, cultural differences can hinder success. Graduate school is a good place to learn to adapt to American culture.

Next, scientists who are interested in moving from bench research to management can learn some tips from a story about people who are making or who have made the transition. Although an M.B.A. may not be a prerequisite, building up your skills base can benefit your move.

Breaking into academia can be difficult for industrial scientists, but in the final story of our package, some who have made the shift offer advice on how to use industry-honed skills to successfully compete against candidates who have never left the university setting.

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