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Are there better job prospect for Chemistry majors than Biology majors?

onhcetumonhcetum Posts: 470Registered User Member
edited January 2011 in Science Majors
Are there better job prospect for Chemistry majors than Biology majors?

I hear that you can do a lot more with Chemistry than you can with Biology.
Post edited by onhcetum on
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Replies to: Are there better job prospect for Chemistry majors than Biology majors?

  • LastThreeYearsLastThreeYears Posts: 480Registered User Member
    Heard right. What is biology?

    The study of homogenously catalyzed organic reactions in water.

    What is chemistry?

    The study of all matter and their reactions, catalyzed or uncatalyzed, homogenously or heterogenously, organic or inorganic, in any solution or even gas phase.

    Now can you see the difference in broadness?
  • sanapplecap2sanapplecap2 Posts: 91Registered User Junior Member
    There really isn't one answer.

    Biology majors can work in fields from health science to forestry management. The field you are interested in may not have job opportunities.

    Chemistry majors might have a more limited range of job options without an advanced degree, but are probably will get higher pay.

    If you are still in high school, I encourage you to consider that many science majors figure out there preferred major as sophomores. You really don't get enough exposure to all that the sciences offer in HS. Consider colleges that will give you options and that you can complete your BS in 4 years even if you switch from bio to chem.
  • LastThreeYearsLastThreeYears Posts: 480Registered User Member
    wait are you kidding?

    Biology has a wider range of job opportunities? Not bashing biology, but you listed a few fields, but not any specific jobs. What job in the health field? Lab analyst? How many Bio majors have even touched an HPLC, touched a GCMS? Think you can be a lab analyst not knowing 2 of the most widely used analytical instruments? You're right in that there are many fields that seem like they need biology, but they need chemistry more.

    A BS in chemistry can work in oil, both upstream and downstream; pharmaceuticals, ranging from drug design to process engineer to analyst; medical lab analyst; environmental lab analyst; semiconductors and electronics usually as a materials scientist or process engineer; or even law and business. The broad, hands-on and quantitative knowledge given to chemistry students means that they can take up graduate studies in almost anything, or find employment in any field that requires both hands on laboratory skills and quantitative skills.
  • 1 Sky Pilot1 Sky Pilot Posts: 558Registered User Member
    Hmm, so if I can't handle chemistry, and if biology is such a waste, then basically it's best to just major in something outside the sciences?
  • sanapplecap2sanapplecap2 Posts: 91Registered User Junior Member
    Last Three Years

    There are a multitude of jobs for bio majors, just as there are many jobs for chemistry majors. You need to open your eyes to that. In most cases, the better paying opportunities for both come with advanced degrees. If you sincerely believe that chemistry majors are better prepared for the next step, I think you are making a gross generalization.

    You can accept my response or not. But I will tell you that I have a Biology degree, have been employed in the sciences for over 30 years, and at a pretty decent salary. I hire a lot of science majors - biology, chemistry, and engineering - and I know what their skills are and how they handle the business world. Each individual is different.

    In short, if you are good at what you do and really like it, you can make a career - biology or chemistry. In today's economy, it might be tougher, but things will change. Pick a degree that interests you and get good grades.
  • LastThreeYearsLastThreeYears Posts: 480Registered User Member
    I can only speak from my experience as well. at my school, Bio is a premed major designed to inflate GPAs for those who do not like creative thinking with nonquantitative classes. At my first job in a pharmaceutical company I did not need a single thing I learned in biology, but almost all chemical knowledge I learned was useful.
  • magneticmagnetic Posts: 165Registered User Junior Member
    You seem to have a hard-on for bashing anything that isn't chem or physics, but you hate on biology the most. Did you fail out of a bio program? According to you, your college offers an extremely easy one.

    The college I attend requires nearly as much chemistry as our chemistry major. The math stops with calc 1 and quantitive statistics.

    To me this looks like a challenging degree. Nearly as much chem as a chem major and 1 less math class. Add in the memory intense and wide range of biological classes and you have a heavy and rigorous course load!

    I'm torn between the three major science topics on which I want to major, honestly I am leaning toward biology to obtain admittance to the graduate study of cellular and behavioral neurobiology.

    Tell me, was yours this rigorous?
  • L'HopitalL'Hopital Posts: 125Registered User Junior Member
    I'm going to have to agree with LastThreeYears. I've never seen anything good from Bio majors. There's a reason why it's called a 'soft' science. Some of the other sciences really bag on it i.e. my chem teacher in high school used to say Bio wasn't even a real science.

    You may say it's an exaggeration, sure, but it does point that there is something about bio. It's universally considered a 'soft' science. Now, you might say this is a misguided judgment but as it stands, it is what it is. Any real science person I've ever seen has always been Chemistry (Physics strikes me more as fuzzy math than science)
  • magneticmagnetic Posts: 165Registered User Junior Member
    L'Hopital,
    So the only real science is chemistry?


    I could agree that it is the central science, so much needs it. However saying that it is the only real science is a stretch.

    Have you noticed how the only people who consider biology a soft science are nonbiologists? Just because physics requires more math or chemistry requires more chemistry doesn't make biology soft. Biology is challenging when you take it for what it is.

    I will agree that high school biology is 1000x easier than the other high school sciences, but in university it's just as challenging and important as the other sciences.
  • L'HopitalL'Hopital Posts: 125Registered User Junior Member
    I never said that at all. I've merely said the people I consider sciency have been, on average, Chemistry people. This is not a fact, but an observation. I'm sure a lot of people have had similar observations (hence the status quo).

    Yes, the nonbiologists say bio is a soft science. But, I don't know anybody who calls Chemistry a soft science. In fact, I don't know anyone who calls physics a soft science, physicist or nonphysicist.

    I don't think it's a matter of math (albeit that might play a factor, since a lot of people aren't fond of PChem for said reason) though what it is I'm not exactly sure.

    After all, I don't speak as a Chem person, nor as a science person. I'm way over there in Pure Mathematics haha.
  • nerdycrisnerdycris Posts: 113Registered User Junior Member
    well I don't really know which offers better prospects, but I had my counselor tell me that usually if you can handle (successfully) what other people consider a challenge (or can't deal with at all) you're on top of the game (as in jobs and life and so on). I would like to apply this idea to the chem vs. bio question, and answer that I consider chemistry to be better:)



    This sound a lot like ranting, I hope it makes sense.. hahaha good luck :D
  • Lemaitre1Lemaitre1 Posts: 1,736Registered User Senior Member
    I majored in Astronomy as an undergraduate. Astronomy is the quintessential science and gave rise to Math and Physics. However, compared to either Biology or Chemistry job prospects in Astronomy are essentially non-existant so I ended up going to medical school. I, of course, had taken many Physics courses but since all U.S. medical schools also require a year each of General Biology, General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry as well I had to really work to squeeze them in. Physics was, of course the easiest for me, I thought General Chemistry and General Biology were of about equal difficultly and not that bad. It was Organic Chemistry that really gave me a hard time and I consider myself fortunate to have escaped with a C in the second semester of Organic Chemistry. Fortunately for me, by that time Hahnemann University School of Medicine (now Drexel University School of Medicine) had already sent me an acceptance letter.
  • LastThreeYearsLastThreeYears Posts: 480Registered User Member
    magnetic: I'm as far from failing as possible. I just switched majors with 1 class left to go. The school doesn't allow major switches of people who are failing, especially from a "soft science" to a "hard science". No, I'm simply warning people of why they should not waste their time (like I did) learning nothing quantitative or useful.

    What school did you go to? I don't know any biology program that requires quantitative analysis, a year of p-chem (thermo, quantum, stat mech), inorganic, inorganic lab, organic mechanisms, computer programming, linear algebra, differential equations and several hard chemistry, physics or engineering electives. Even the chemistry department's biology class (Chemical Biology here) is more rigorous and quantitative than the biology deparment's. Don't make jokes like "A bio major is the same as a chem major".

    L'Hopital: I have utmost respect for physics majors, as we only have to deal with 1 quarter of quantum mechanics, while physics majors deal with it for 1 whole year. Their experiments are also just as long as ours, but they have more math. I also have utmost respect for math, mathematical economics/finance, engineering, and other quantitative majors.
  • magneticmagnetic Posts: 165Registered User Junior Member
    So LTY, qualitative is useless?

    You just seem extremely ignorant, I'm done.
  • MedchemxMedchemx Posts: 1Registered User New Member
    Both fields are tough to make a living in. If you want to advance in the field, you will have to get a graduate degree in both. Unless you are clever enough to own a company. Graduate degree for chem and bio are both going about 6-7 years:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/18/education/edlife/18phd-t.html

    If you choose not to get a graduate degree, you will have increased job security and less geographic restriction. However, your career will practically stall within a few years of joining the work force. As far as the outlook for either one, it's pretty bleak:

    This is a graph of layoffs for pharmaceuticals: Who's Next? | Business | Chemical & Engineering News

    And return on investmen (ROI) is practically zero over a scientist's lifetime:
    Ph.Dollars: Does Grad School Make Financial Sense? - Science Careers - Biotech, Pharmaceutical, Faculty, Postdoc jobs on Science Careers

    This year has been just as bad and likely to continue for 2-3 years.

    Many students that come to grad school fit into a few major categories: 1) Think a higher degree is automatically better 2) Indebt, need to avoid Sallie Mae 3) Don't know what else to do. That describes about 80% of people. Don't be in that class of people. Med Chem has taken a serious beating job wise and is unlikely to recovery in the next decade. Bio has many opportunities, however the extremely long training period (Grad school + Post-Docs) put people in the predicament that their field may not be so hot ten years after entering graduate school. Genomics and MedChem are two such examples.

    If you must go into science, pick something you will enjoy and will be proficient at. The competition is too intense to pick something you cannot be really engaged in for the remainder of your career. Also, seriously consider professional school and going into business, they will provide you with much security and are not as isolating. After many years of grad school, I've seen people break down in tears over the realities of trying to forge a living out of this stuff, please choose something where your enthusiasm will carry you through the hardest times.

    For those that need the harshest criticism of the science field: Women in Science
    For those interested in Physics read Michio Kaku: So You Want to Become a Physicist? : Welcome to Explorations in Science with Dr. Michio Kaku
    Kaku is not as prone to hyperbole as Greenspun, though Greenspun's arguments are actually lining up very well with the current job outlook since 2006.
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