<p>I am a undergraduate student of chemical engineering. I was hoping a chemistry/physics person could help me out with this one. I'm not completely satisfied with chemical engineering...not enough chemistry for my taste...but I would like to finish my bachelor's degree in chemical engineering because I know it is practical and if worse comes to worse I can get a job straight out of college if grad school doesn't work out. I already took the GRE exam and I am planning on going to grad school in either chemical engineering, bioengineering (my minor), or chemistry. I just took a required P Chem class last semester and I got an A+ and I really had a knack for the material. My professor, Dr. Yates, a highly-regarded surface scientist, said that based on what he believed my interests to be...that P Chem was the way to go for grad school. However, I was a bit disenchanted by the research prospects. I've seen research work where a professor attaches a compound to a metallic surface and uses a ridiculously expensive, high-powered microscope to watch the molecule spin on the surface. That doesn't sound very exciting to me. Does anyone have any good physical chemistry research experience to share with me or even just a little bit of an idea of the job outlook for physical chemists?</p>
<p>Physical chemistry spans a lot of areas, from surface science to reaction mechanism and dynamics. Physical chemists represent close to a quarter of academic chemists, so surfing the web you should easily find a wide sampling of projects.
The job outlook has been mixed for some time. Many more graduate students aim to be professors than can possibly become tenure track professors. However, most experimental physical chemists have little trouble getting industrial jobs (as analytical chemists) on the basis of their intimate knowledge of experimental design and troubleshooting.</p>