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While many chemistry students have an image in their minds of scientists as men in white coats, the reality is very different.

For a start, organisations such as WISE are encouraging more women into science-based careers, and more opportunities exist for women than ever before in fields relating to chemistry.

Also, although many chemistry-related career paths are based in laboratories, studying chemistry opens up a world of other opportunities too.

Here are just five of the potential career paths that chemistry students could consider.

1. Chemical Engineering

A career in chemical engineering offers the opportunity to develop raw materials into many useful products such as plastics, medicine and petrochemicals.

Involved in the development and design elements of numerous industries including oil and gas, food and drink, and energy and pharmaceuticals, modern chemical engineers also pioneer new techniques and materials such as fuel cells and nanotechnology.

While some chemical engineers may work in a lab, others may work in processing plants, offices or even construction sites, opening up a world of exciting potential for chemistry students who choose this career path.

2. Pharmacology

Students with strong science skills could excel in the pharmacological career path, working in the field of cutting-edge drug research and development.

With several areas of pharmacology to choose from – including neuropharmacology, psychopharmacology and veterinary pharmacology – those following this career path will be undertaking essential work to discover and test new medicines.

Women are especially encouraged to enter this field since they are currently under-represented in the profession and organisations such as the British Pharmacological Society have put in place initiatives to make pharmacology more attractive to female candidates.

3. Medicine and Healthcare

There are many career paths within the medical field, and although training to be a doctor of any kind is a time consuming, expensive and challenging path to take, it is certainly one of the most rewarding.

With not only financial rewards to look forward to, but also the satisfaction of working in a field which improves peoples’ lives, there are over 20 different areas of medicine in which chemistry students can specialise, and there are many opportunities for progression.

4. Public Sector Careers

Moving away from pure research options, there are now increasing opportunities for chemistry specialists within the public sector, specifically within public health, defence, and environment.

Forensics is one area in which chemists can excel, and scientists are now in demand when it comes to shaping the nation’s policies with regard to health and safety and sciences.

For those with environmental interests, there are opportunities within the areas of chemical diagnostics, agriculture, and environmental consultancy – all of which can have a major impact on the future of environmental regulations and policies.

5. Teaching

At the present time the UK is experiencing a severe lack of qualified science teachers, and successful chemistry specialists could find this a very lucrative field as schools offer better recruitment and retention packages to the most skilled candidates.

There is nothing more rewarding than imparting knowledge to the next generation and helping to inspire learners.

Careers within the field of chemistry are not just rewarding, they are key to society’s well-being and future, and when students are encouraged to pursue any of these career paths, they will not only be benefiting themselves, but also the rest of the nation.