Organic chemistry is the study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-containing compounds, which include not only hydrocarbons but also compounds with any number of other elements, including hydrogen (most compounds contain at least one carbon–hydrogen bond), nitrogen, oxygen, halogens, phosphorus, silicon, and sulfur. This branch of chemistry was originally limited to compounds produced by living organisms but has been broadened to include human-made substances such as plastics. The range of application of organic compounds is enormous and also includes, but is not limited to, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, food, explosives, paints, and cosmetics.
Though one may find employment with a bachelor’s degree-your chances are improved with a master’s or doctoral degree. A typical organic chemistry curriculum involves:
Introductory Organic Chemistry: Physiological biochemistry, which is the study of organic physiological structures, is also covered. Students study the basic principles in understanding organic molecules’ reactivity and structure. The carbonyl group is generally explored, as well as instruction in substituting and eliminating reactions in this group.
Advanced Organic Chemistry: Aromatic compounds may be introduced in the advanced organic chemistry class, as well as the valence bond resonance and orbital theories. Ramifications of covalent (type of chemical bond) and non-covalent bonding of organic molecules and thermodynamic considerations of organic molecular shapes are also generally explored. Advanced organic chemistry courses are generally offered in the last year of an undergraduate or graduate degree program.
Organic Chemistry Research: Organic chemistry research methods, as they apply to the pharmaceutical, material, crystal engineering and science fields, are explored in this course. Computational research methods, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy skills, mass spectrometric skills and techniques are also generally examined. There are generally prerequisite organic chemistry courses to enroll in this course.
Organic chemists at all levels are generally employed by pharmaceutical, biotech, chemical, consumer product, and petroleum industries. Industries where organic chemistry is applied:
Biotechnology: Biotechnology (“biotech” for short) is a field of applied biology that involves using living organisms and bioprocesses to create or modify products for a specific use. Biotechnology is used in in health care, crop production and agriculture, nonfood uses of crops and other products (e.g., biodegradable plastics, vegetable oil, biofuels), and environmental applications.
Chemical: Over three-fourths of the chemical industry’s output worldwide is polymers and plastics. Chemicals are used to make a wide variety of consumer goods, as well as thousands of products that are inputs to the agriculture, manufacturing, construction, and service industries. The chemical industry itself consumes about a quarter of its own output. Major industrial customers include rubber and plastic products, textiles, apparel, petroleum refining, pulp and paper, and primary metals.
Petroleum: The petroleum industry includes the global processes of exploration, extraction, refining, transporting, and marketing petroleum products. The largest volume products of the industry are fuel oil and gasoline.
Pharmaceutical: The pharmaceutical industry develops, produces, and markets drugs licensed for use as medications for humans or animals. Pharmaceuticals (brand name and generic) and medical devices are subject to a large number of country-specific laws and regulations regarding patenting, testing, safety assurance, efficacy, monitoring, and marketing.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has one group for ‘Chemists and Materials Scientists.’ In 2012, the BLS reported that the median annual wage was $73,060 with a Bachelor’s Degree. The growth rate was projected at 6% or 5,400 jobs added/changed from 2012-2022.