- 5 Main branches of chemistry
- Organic chemistry
- Inorganic chemistry
- Analytical chemistry
- Physical Chemistry
Understanding Chemistry and its various branches
Yasmeen Khan | 12 Jun,2021
Chemistry has been believed to be one of the most challenging subjects to understand and grasp, in the school days. Though, in the initial years of schooling and college, you are ought to study chemistry as a burden, but as and when you develop an interest in the subject, you wish to take the course as a part of your higher studies. However, many of you may not like studying chemistry, but there are a number of students who take a deep interest in unwinding the complex chemical formations of the environment and surroundings.
In fact, chemistry is a highly interesting subject as it helps us to intrigue the world of atoms and molecules. Many students across the globe take admission into the chemistry courses and study various branches of chemistry. These further help them to decide the course of their career and ensure their ultimate route to success.
This article will help you understand the broader view of all the branches of chemistry, their uses, and what are the career scopes of the respective branches. Also, it will give you a detailed vision of the career opportunities related to each branch of chemistry.
5 Main branches of chemistry
Chemistry as a study is divided into 5 main branches. The divisions allow you to choose your particular branch of chemistry and study the same in-depth. It also acts as a great source to orient the path of your career in the direction, you aim to move. By choosing the branch, you also allow yourself to gain knowledge in the field of your interest.
Carbon is one of the most widely studied elements in Chemistry. This is because it forms a number of vital compounds with different elements, which hold a great significance in our lives. Organic Chemistry is the branch of Chemistry which deals with the study of Carbon and different compounds it forms with other elements such as hydrogen, halogens, nitrogen and oxygen. Further, ‘Catenation’ is the property by virtue of which Carbon forms an abundance of compounds with these elements. The different compounds which it forms are known as ‘Organic Compounds’. By far, nearly 9 million organic compounds are known to exist. This makes Organic Chemistry a very broad branch in itself.
Where is Organic Chemistry used?
Organic Chemistry holds a great significance in our lives as organic compounds are present everywhere, around us. The most prominent spheres of life, where Organic Chemistry plays an important role, have been mentioned below.
Organic Chemistry forms the basis of life. This is because carbon and its compounds are the primary constituents of all living cells.
Hydrocarbons- the organic compounds of Carbon and Hydrogen, which we use in our daily life as essential fuels such as natural gas, petroleum and coal, also form a part of organic Chemistry. Thus, organic chemistry holds a great significance in energy generation.
Synthesis of Polymers
Organic Chemistry is used for the synthesis of polymers. These are long chain carbon compounds, which have a wide range of usage from scientific research to our day to day life. Some examples of polymers which we often use in our everyday life include rubber, nylon, a wide range of plastics and bakelite.
The various compounds which are used for the synthesis of different medicines, are mostly ‘Organic Compounds’. Thus, organic chemistry plays a vital role in medicinal purposes.
Manufacturing of Soaps and Detergents
Organic Compounds act as surfactants. Thus, they are used in the manufacturing of soaps and detergents. So, organic Chemistry finds important applications in the soap and detergent industry.
Careers in Organic Chemistry
Organic Chemistry plays a significant role in different spheres of life such as the ones discussed above, thus, it offers promising career opportunities to aspiring organic chemists. If you too wish to pursue a career in this field, then you can think upon any of the following career option as an organic chemist
Forensic Chemists investigate and analyze the evidence and samples collected from different crime scenes to solve the mysteries associated with them. They apply all their knowledge of different fields such as organic chemistry, genetics and investigating tools and techniques to break through the evidence collected and synthesize meaningful information out of them. It is only with the effective contributions of forensic chemists that complex crime mysteries get resolved and the criminals get caught. Further, forensic chemists stay in demand in both the government as well as the private sector and also enjoy a decent salary package.
Food items are mostly composed of organic compounds thus organic chemists have a good scope of employment as food scientists in the food industry. Further, food scientists are required to use their vast knowledge to enhance the nutritional value of the different food items which are used for consumption. Not only this, they also analyze the food items and ensure that they are safe and healthy for people to consume. Further, food scientists get employed at a handsome pay scale in all types of food processing industries both in the private as well as government sector. It is only because of eminent food scientists that we can consume packaged and canned food items with the trust of safety.
The alarming rise in the levels of environmental pollution is a cause of concern for the entire world. The soil, the air, the water and all other constituents of the environment are being polluted by chemicals and other toxic substances which are being released into them. As a result of the increased pollution levels, the entire world is dealing with numerous environmental problems such as global warming, ozone layer depletion and rise in the sea level. To throw light on the risks associated with these problems, environmental chemists deal with the study of the impact of the pollutants on the environment and biodiversity. They also develop various techniques and technologies to bring a reduction in environmental pollution such as waste management techniques and developing alternatives for non-biodegradable materials like plastic. Moreover, as environmental pollution and problems form major concerning issues which need to be addressed at priority by the entire humanity, environmental chemists always remain high in demand and thus, have a promising career ahead of them.
Petroleum and its products find important application in the industrial and household sector such as heat, electricity and energy generation in automobile engines. Petroleum Chemists deal with everything which is associated with petroleum and its products. If you are involved at working in this branch, then you are required to devise innovative ways to make more efficient and judicious use of petroleum, exploring new petroleum reserves and developing new petroleum products are some examples of tasks which you would need to perform. Furthermore, the professional journey of petroleum chemists begins by undertaking rigorous training in the respective companies, under the guidance of experts. Once petroleum chemists complete their training and gain the required amount of experience in their field, they soar high in professional success with an attractive pay scale.
As discussed above, most of the medicines used in the healthcare industry are derived from organic compounds. Thus, organic chemists get employed in the medical industry, as medicinal chemists. It is by applying their immense knowledge about organic compounds that they synthesize novel medicines and drugs for the treatment of various diseases and ailments. Along with this, they also conduct wide scale research on improving the derivation techniques and processes of various medicines. Moreover, the healthcare industry is one of the most basic and essentially required industries for the survival of mankind. Thus, medicinal chemists are always high in demand and also enjoy a good level of job security.
Inorganic Chemistry deals with the study of inorganic compounds, which are formed by the combination of two or more chemical elements. Although majority of the compounds formed by carbon with different elements are termed as ‘Organic Compounds’ and are studied under ‘Organic Chemistry’, but the compounds of carbon which do not contain a Carbon-Hydrogen bond including some carbonates and some cyanides are termed as ‘inorganic’ in nature and are studied under ‘Inorganic Chemistry’. Further, inorganic compounds may be formed by any type of chemical bonding such as covalent bonding, coordinate bonding, electrovalent bonding and metallic bonding.
Where is Inorganic Chemistry used?
‘Inorganic Chemistry’ is an extremely significant branch of Chemistry. It is due to the fact that different inorganic compounds find numerous applications in our daily life as well as in exceptional research works. There are a number of places where inorganic chemistry is used, few of them are mentioned below for your knowledge.
Inorganic Chemistry plays an important role in the sustenance of life. This is because ‘water’ which is essential for our survival, is itself an inorganic compound. Not only this, table salt which forms a crucial part of our diet, is chemically Sodium Chloride, which is again an inorganic compound. This way, inorganic chemistry plays a vital role in maintaining the life cycle.
Synthesis of Ammonia
Inorganic Chemistry is used in the synthesis of Ammonia. It is an extremely useful inorganic compound which finds its usage in both households as well as the industrial sector. The production of fertilizers, manufacture of household cleaning products and refrigeration are some examples of prominent applications of Ammonia.
Inorganic compounds find a number of applications in the healthcare industry. Satraplatin, Budotitane and sodium aurothiomalate are some examples of inorganic compounds which are used for the treatment of dreary diseases like arthritis and cancer. Thus, inorganic chemistry is widely used in medicinal applications.
Catalytic Applications are one of the most important applications of inorganic chemistry. Chemical reactions require some amount of energy to take place. This energy is known as ‘Activation Energy’. At times, when the activation energy required for chemical reactions to take place is extremely high and it becomes difficult or challenging to supply it externally, the role of catalysts comes into play. Catalysts lower down the energy of activation and thus, promote the rate of the reaction. Vanadium oxide and Titanium(III) chloride are two examples of extremely important inorganic catalysts.
Coatings of inorganic materials serve an important purpose of corrosion protection. Anodizing, porcelain enamel and conversion coatings are some examples of useful inorganic coatings. Thus, inorganic Chemistry finds important application in the coating industry.
Careers in Inorganic Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry finds an abundance of applications in the industrial sector, thus, being an inorganic chemist, you get to enjoy a promising career in different professional fields. Below mentioned are some of them.
Ceramic materials are materials having advanced properties such as high strength and thermal resistance. Ceramic Chemists put all their knowledge into developing such advanced ceramic materials which find usage in important industrial sectors such as Aerospace industry, cutting tool manufacturing industry and insulation industry. Further, it is because of the wide range of applications which ceramics find in different industrial sectors, such as the ones mentioned above, that ceramic chemists always remain high in demand. Also, ceramic chemists enjoy a good pay scale and thus, lead a professional life of fulfillment.
Inorganic Chemists have a good scope of employment in the food safety and inspection industry. They are involved in conducting different kinds of research work to enhance the nutritional value of the food items and also ensuring the safety of packaged food items. Not only this, food scientists are also involved in ensuring proper distribution of food items across different channels of food delivery. Furthermore, food scientists are employed at a high salary package in both the private as well as the government sector. It is only because of the meticulous efforts of food scientists that we can purchase safe packaged food which is fit for consumption.
Inorganic Chemists utilize their vast knowledge to deal with different types of environmental issues and problems. It is with the rise in the levels of environmental pollution that environmental problems are also witnessing a splurge. The water we drink, the air we breathe and the soil we use to raise crops, all are being polluted by pollutants such as industrial effluents and unburnt fuel particles from automobiles. All this is resulting in a severe damage to the planet and its inhabitants be it animals, plants or human beings. Thus, numerous government and private industries are working towards the development of advanced techniques and technologies which can reduce different types of environmental pollution. For this, they conduct extensive recruitments for environmental Chemists. Moreover, both these sectors offer handsome salary packages to environmental chemists.
Mining Analytical Chemists
Inorganic Chemists get employed in the mining industry as mining analytical chemists. The job role involves analyzing the mined ores to determine their chemical composition and then using them for various applications. Along with this, many important elements exist in combined form as compounds beneath the surface of the Earth. Analytical Mining Chemists also shoulder the responsibility of synthesizing these elements from their compounds in pure state. Thus, inorganic chemists have a great role to play in the mining industry and get employed at handsome pay packages.
Analytical Chemistry is the branch of Chemistry which deals with determining the constituents of the collected samples, by conducting quantitative as well as qualitative analysis. In other words, analytical chemistry involves investigating the composition of a sample with the help of different chemical techniques.The quantitative and qualitative analysis conducted is used to ensure the safety of different materials for use in different industries such as the food industry, cosmetic industry and healthcare industry. Thus, Analytical Chemistry is an extremely important branch of Chemistry, which holds a great significance for different industrial applications.
Where is Analytical Chemistry used?
Analytical Chemistry finds a number of applications in different fields, such as the ones mentioned below:
Determination of expiry date of medicinal products
Medicinal Products also get expired. If consumed after the expiry date, medicines can do more harm than good. Thus, it is crucial to determine the expiry dates of drugs and medicines. It is only with the help of Analytical Chemistry that this determination becomes possible.
Investigating for adulteration
Adulteration of different substances such as food products, cosmetics and drugs has become a fairly common practice today. Analytical Chemistry is used for detecting signs of adulteration in these substances.
Analytical Chemistry is also used to conduct blood tests. It enables the analytical chemists to determine the levels of different constituents such as Glucose and Cholesterol in the collected blood sample of an individual. This way, Analytical Chemistry plays a significant role in Lab testing for healthcare purposes.
With the increasing levels of environmental pollution, it has become crucial to conduct regular health checks of the environment through environmental analysis. For this, different Analytical Chemistry techniques are used and the composition of different chemical constituents and effluents in the collected samples of environmental elements such as soil, water and air is determined.
Analytical Chemistry plays a vital role in forensic science. It enables forensic experts to analyze and investigate the evidence collected from the crime scene. This way, analytical chemistry helps in solving mysteries related to crime.
Careers in Analytical Chemistry
Analytical chemistry as a field has evolved to a great extent and its career opportunities are also expanding with the passage of time. Following is the list of fields, you can look for career options, if you have a degree in analytical chemistry.
Agricultural and Food Scientists
Food is the basic need of life and it’s important to ensure that the food produced is high in quality, nutrition rich, safe and fit for consumption. Food is tested for all these qualities by Analytical Chemists. They apply their vast knowledge of Analytical Chemistry to conduct both quantitative as well as qualitative analysis of food items and check their quality and constituents. They also investigate the food items for any signs of adulteration using different analytical chemistry tools and techniques. Further, the food industry is an enormous industry, comprising both the government as well as the private sector. Thus, Agricultural and Food Scientists find a good employability in both these sectors. Moreover, analytical Chemists enjoy a handsome pay package and successfully find their financial fulfillment through their career.
Many Analytical Chemists dream of becoming a Forensic Scientist. This career field is so loved because of its exciting and mysterious nature. Forensic Scientists deal with the evidence which is collected from a crime scene. They meticulously investigate them for any signs of clues which the evidence could contain by applying different analytical chemistry concepts and techniques. Thus, Analytical Chemists get recruited on a massive scale in the forensic industry.
Petroleum is an important fuel, which finds different applications in both the industrial as well as the household sector, such as Energy generation and production of other petroleum products. It is derived from the refining of crude oil, which is conducted in the refineries. Analytical Chemists, shoulder various kinds of job responsibilities in the oil and petroleum industry such as exploration, extraction, refining and inspection of petroleum and its derivatives. Along with this, analytical chemists also play an active role in the determination of new petroleum reserves and petroleum products along with devising more judicious and efficient ways of utilizing the existing ones. Thus, Analytical Chemists have a good chance of recruitment in the oil and petroleum industry, as petroleum chemists. Further, petroleum chemists enjoy the merit of being highly paid, which brings them a good level of financial security in life.
Analytical Chemists are widely recruited in the pharmaceuticals industry as pharmacologists. ‘Pharmacologists’ are involved in conducting research work for medicinal development along with testing the effectiveness of new medicinal products for the treatment of the respective ailments. They also perform careful investigation of medicines and drugs to determine any signs of adulteration. Along with this they also shoulder the responsibility of ensuring the safety of different medicines for medical purposes. Thus, pharmacologists are extensively employed in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry.
As discussed above, the environment of the planet and its inhabitants are all in a state of great threat which is being posed by the alarming rise in the levels of environmental pollution. Much of this pollution is generated by industrial and automobile effluents. These effluents contaminate the environment and its elements such as water, soil and air. Analytical chemists are the investigators who employ their analytical chemistry caliber to test the samples of different environmental elements collected from different places and conduct their qualitative as well as quantitative analysis to determine the extent of contamination. They also work on the development of innovative strategies and techniques to restore the good health of the environment and its elements. Thus, analytical chemists play an important role in safeguarding the environment by pursuing their career as an environmental scientist.
Physical Chemistry is the branch of Chemistry which deals with the utilization of various concepts of physics such as thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, time, force and energy for understanding the behavior of matter. It is with the applications of these concepts that you being a physical chemistry aspirant are set forward to analyze matter at both the atomic as well as the molecular level. You are also required to analyze the different types of chemical reactions which take place between atoms and molecules of different substances.
Where is Physical Chemistry used?
Physical Chemistry is an important branch of Chemistry, which finds an abundance of applications in different fields. You can easily analyse its uses, by reading the section below.
Development of materials
Physical Chemistry is used in the development of smart and advanced materials such as plastics, ceramics, surfactants and personal care products.
Physical Chemistry finds a number of applications in the healthcare sector such as conducting studies of drug utilization processes and procedures, studies of medicinal errors and collecting useful data for clinical purposes.
The earth and its environment is being polluted by a number of chemical substances which are being released into it. Physical Chemistry and various principles associated with it such as equilibrium, spontaneity and chemical kinetics are used to find solutions to the chemical problems which are posing a big threat to the natural environment.
Generation of electrical energy
The different types of electric cells and batteries we use, are developed and produced by using the principles of electrochemistry, which form an integral part of physical chemistry. Thus, physical chemistry is used in the generation of electricity, by the conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy in cells and batteries.
Photochemistry is an important part of physical chemistry. Thus, physical chemistry finds a number of photochemical applications such as investigation of smog formation, advanced paints and primers and for the development of photodegradable plastics.
Careers in Physical Chemistry
After completing your education, it becomes a dire necessity to ensure a secured job for yourself. From the various options available in the job market, you can opt for any of the few mentioned below.
Chemists are the scientists who conduct extensive research work to understand different chemical phenomena such as the occurrence of different chemical reactions, their rates, the conditions which affect their feasibility, and the development of new chemical products by conducting chemical experiments. They spend most of their time in the lab, surrounded by different tools, scientific apparatus, and their fellow colleagues. Further, chemists are recruited by both government and private sector industries which are involved in conducting chemical research, whether at a large scale or small scale. They receive good salary packages from both private as well as government sector industries and thus, enjoy financial stability in their lives.
Physical chemistry candidates have a good scope of employment in the pharmaceuticals industry as pharmacologists. They offer research and testing services for the production of effective medicines for the treatment of different diseases and ailments. It is by employing their knowledge about the chemical properties of different substances, the kinetics, and mechanisms of chemical reactions that they synthesize important medicinal products. Further, it is with their meticulous services that physical chemists make significant contributions to the healthcare industry by developing effective treatments for fatal diseases like cancer.
When physical Chemistry aspirants utilize their knowledge and skills to study the presence of different chemical substances in the environment and their different elements such as soil, air, and water, they are termed, Environmental Chemists. Their job role involves analyzing the long-term impact of different chemical contaminants on the overall health of the planet and its inhabitants. Along with this, environmental chemists also work on the development of different strategies and techniques to restore and protect the environment from the harmful impacts of contaminants.
Physical chemistry aspirants get recruited as chemical metallurgists in the metallurgy sector, where they utilize the basic concepts of physical chemistry to determine the recoverability of different metals from their ores. Not only this, but they also work on conducting the respective processes in the most economical and efficient manner. Further, the responsibilities of chemical metallurgists don’t just end here. They also work for the purpose of strengthening different metals with properties such as fatigue resistance and corrosion resistance. It is by virtue of such properties that smart materials can be developed for utilization under critical conditions. This way, physical chemistry aspirants play an important role in the metallurgy sector.
‘Bio’ stands for biological i.e. relating to living organisms, and Chemistry is the study of atoms, molecules, and different chemical reactions which take place between chemical substances. So, from the combination of the above two definitions, ‘Biochemistry’ is the branch of science which deals with the study of the structure and composition of living beings, along with the chemical reactions which take place within them. In simpler terms, you can say that biochemistry deals with everything about living beings from the cells they are composed of to the overall functioning of the different organs of your body.
Further, this branch of science is a very vast one in itself and includes important scientific disciplines such as genetics, microbiology, medicine, and forensic science. The inclusion of all these intriguing scientific disciplines in biochemistry makes the subject more interesting for you to study.
Where is Biochemistry used?
Medical Science thrives on Biochemistry. Had biochemistry not been in existence, it would have never been possible for medical science to get equipped with the wide range of medicines, drugs, and diagnostic procedures, it utilizes for the identification and treatment of different diseases. This is because biochemistry forms the sole basis of the understanding of the basic structure and composition of the human body, only in the availability of which effective medical treatments can be developed and practiced.
Forensic Science involves investigating the evidence collected from the crime scene by utilizing scientific principles and techniques. It is often that the investigation of the evidence requires the use of biochemical techniques to solve the associated mysteries. Thus, biochemistry finds important applications in forensic science.
Veterinary Science is the discipline of science that is associated with the prevention, control, and treatment of diseases in animals. It is only because of the biochemical awareness of the different animal structures and processes involved in their functioning that veterinary science can serve its purpose of treating animal diseases.
Biochemistry plays an important role in food science. The Biochemistry of Foods enables the biochemists to determine and preserve the quality of different food items. It is by employing different biochemical techniques that food scientists ensure the fitness of different food items for consumption.
Molecular Genetics makes extensive use of biochemistry for conducting the chemical analysis of genes and genetic codes. Genetic scientists use the results derived from this analysis to develop new pharmaceutical and agricultural products.
Careers in Biochemistry
As discussed above, biochemistry is a wide branch of science that encompasses many important scientific disciplines such as veterinary science, forensic science, and genetics. Thus, a degree in biochemistry opens a number of career pathways for biochemists. Given below are some of them
Biochemists can utilize their knowledge about biochemistry to serve as forensic scientists. This is because most forensic investigations involve analyzing the evidence of biological origins such as a blood sample, a strand of hair, and a piece of flesh, which are collected from the crime scene. It is only with the help of biochemical tools and procedures that the mysteries associated with the biological evidence can be solved, resulting in the disclosure of the criminals. Moreover, the application of biochemistry for forensic purposes requires extra care and meticulousness. Thus, biochemists are required to possess in-depth theoretical as well as practical knowledge about biochemistry and associated techniques, to succeed in their career as forensic scientists.
Biochemists have a good scope of employment in the field of biotechnology. It is with their vast knowledge and caliber in the discipline of biochemistry that biochemists work on the utilization of biological processes for industrial and other applications. For example, biotechnologists use their knowledge about genetics, to produce genetically modified crops in the agricultural sector. These crops are higher in the nutritional content as compared to the original ones. Along with this, biotechnologists also work in laboratories and assist scientists with their research work.
Biochemists are well versed in the knowledge about the different phenomena which occur within living beings. Thus, they play a crucial role in the development of different medicines which are used for the treatment of various diseases and ailments associated with living beings. Medicinal Chemists often work in collaboration with a team of scientists and researchers for the purpose of synthesizing new and effective medicines and drugs by using both natural as well as synthetic medicinal agents. Further, there is always going to be a need for the availability of medical chemists till life exists on the planet. Thus, medical chemists enjoy a good level of job security along with handsome pay packages.
Biochemists find extensive job opportunities as ‘Food scientists’, in the field of food science, wherein they employ their knowledge and skills for the production of better and nutrition-rich food items. Not only this, they are also involved in the task of ensuring the preservation and safety of packaged food items. Moreover, food scientists also enjoy good salary packages irrespective of the fact whether they are employed in the government or the private sector.
Clinical research scientist
Clinical Research is another promising field where numerous biochemists find recruitment as clinical research analysts. Their job role involves shouldering a number of responsibilities such as studying different diseases and ailments in the laboratories, deriving respective cures and treatments. They are mostly surrounded by a diverse range of medical equipment, collected lab samples and their fellow research scientists. Further, the need for clinical research scientists is never going to cease, until life exists on planet Earth. Thus, clinical research scientists always remain in demand by the industry.
All the branches of chemistry have over and again proven to be highly resourceful for mankind. From developing medicines to producing technologies, chemistry as a field of study is highly advanced and challenging. It not only intrigues your mind to probe further but also carves a great career path for your future growth.
What are the 5 areas of study in chemistry?
Chemistry is a wide subject which has been divided into five major areas of study, namely- Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Why are the branches of chemistry important?
Chemistry involves the study of chemical compounds, their structure, applications and everything that is related to them. Further, the different branches of chemistry help chemists club similar chemical compounds together and predict their behavior on the basis of their chemical families. For example, organic Chemistry is all about Carbon and its compounds with different elements. Thus, the different branches of chemistry are really important.
What are the big ideas of chemistry?
There are many big ideas in Chemistry. The Kinetic Theory, types of Chemical Reactions, The mole, Matter and Energy are some examples of the big ideas presented by Chemistry.