Chemistry is the branch of science that deals with the study of matter composed of atoms and molecules, their properties, composition, structure, behavior, and interactions among constituents of matter. From the sodium hydroxide in soap to the calcium in toothpaste, we can see chemistry’s presence in our day-to-day activities. Since chemistry encompasses a diverse spectrum of studies, scientists dedicate their education to specialized fields of chemistry.
Compared with other academic subjects, many students perceive chemistry as a more complex science due to the many fields of study. Experts typically breakdown chemistry into 5 main branches: Physical Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Biochemistry.
This branch of chemistry deals with the relationship between the compositions and physical properties of matters, along with the changes in matter. When working in this branch of chemistry, scientists may study concepts such as the formation of molecules, behaviors in liquids, solids, and gases, and the effect of temperature. Specific sub-fields of physical chemistry also include:
Organic chemistry is the study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-containing compounds. Organic compounds are all around us: the acetylsalicylic acid in aspirin, the acetone in nail polish remover, or even the hydrogen peroxide in mouthwash. They are central to the economic growth of the United States in many different industries such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Whether developing new plastics, medicines, foods, or fuels, organic chemistry college majors enjoy a diverse spectrum of career opportunities.
This area of chemistry deals with the study of all elements and compounds except hydrocarbons and their derivatives. Inorganic compounds include minerals found in the Earth’s crust and non-living matter. Chemists can apply the concepts from inorganic chemistry throughout every aspect of the chemical industry, including catalysis, materials science, pigments, surfactants, coatings, medications, fuels, and agriculture.
This area of chemistry deals with the study of the structure, composition, and chemical reactions of substances found in living organisms. Biochemistry combines biology with organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry and deals with issues such as the fundamental changes that take place in diseases. Moreover, the concepts in biochemistry make up the chemical basis of heredity and how living organisms consume energy from foods.
Analytical chemistry is the process of isolating specific compounds, identifying the compounds, and determining how much of the compounds are in a product. Scientists and doctors use analytical chemistry in many different areas of science.
For instance, a doctor may use analytical chemistry to determine the amount of cholesterol in a patient’s blood or even identify an unknown compound at a crime scene. More importantly, analytical chemists focus on also improving the existing analysis techniques while subsequently developing new methods.
Chemistry isn’t restricted to only five fields. Aside from the five main branches of chemistry, experts specialize in areas that are combinations of the main disciplines. Some applied branches of chemistry include:
Chemistry plays an enormous role in day-to-day life since it affects almost every aspect of human existence in some way: the food we eat, the vitamins we consume, or even the clothes we wear made from nylon or polyester. As a result, college students pursuing a chemistry degree have a plethora of career options. A chemistry background proves helpful for the advanced study of biochemistry, endocrinology, physiology, microbiology, and pharmacology. Thus, a bachelor’s degree in chemistry is ideal for students planning careers in health professions such as pharmacy, dentistry, optometry, medicine, or veterinary medicine.
Furthermore, chemists are not just confined to the lab because most trained chemists end up in non-traditional chemistry careers due to the transferable skills developed from studying chemistry, including logical thinking, communication, creativity, analysis, data collection, and observation. These critical skills are highly desirable to employers in all sorts of sectors.