Article by: Perry Romanowski
Getting a degree in chemistry is highly satisfying and emotionally rewarding. The classes you take like Physical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Advanced Inorganic Chemistry are tough, especially compared to the courses that Business majors or Communication majors are taking.
But alas, getting through tough classes does not always translate to making the most money when you get out of school. In fact, compared to Business majors most Chemistry majors make significantly less money when they first start out. And if you’re not careful, you can coast into a good career that ultimately doesn’t make nearly as much money as some of your non-scientist friends.
To help combat that feeling of not being compensated enough, it’s a good idea to consider all the different ways that chemists can make money once they get out of school. Since the focus of this website is cosmetic chemistry or formulating, I write this with that in mind. However, much of the advice here would apply to any type of chemist.
Get a job
The first option is probably the most obvious, get a job. We have some tips on starting a cosmetic science career here. Basically, you have to find companies you want to work for, network with people in the industry and take any lab job you can find. QA/QC job are probably the easiest ones for new graduates to get. Here are some sources for finding cosmetic industry science jobs.
Advance in your career
Once you’ve started working in the cosmetic industry, you’ll want to do the appropriate things to advance in your career. Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to impress your boss. It is rare that anyone will have more power over your career than your boss. And if you don’t get along with your boss, you’re going to have a difficult time advancing in your career at your company. If you do happen to not get along with your boss, I suggest you find another place to work. Very few careers can flourish with a boss who strives to keep you down.
One of the biggest problems with a job is that you are limited to the amount of money you make by your salary. If your company has a bad year, you might not even get a raise. For this reason it’s a good idea to develop skills where you can make money on the side. I started my “side hustle” by doing freelance writing for encyclopedias. This wasn’t a lot of extra money but it was enough that it gave me confidence if my job disappeared I’d have another source of income. In the cosmetic industry, you can always pitch article ideas to trade journals like Cosmetics and Toiletries, GCI or Happi. They don’t pay much but it is a little money and it will also help build your reputation in the industry.
Make money online
Another way you can make money is to pick one of the variety of ways to make money online. It takes work but there are proven methods for turning your online activities into money making opportunities. You can do this by starting a website, building a social media network, becoming an expert, making advertising money, participating in affiliate programs, and more. I’d suggest you check out Niche Pursuits for inspiration on how you might turn your online activities into more money for you.
Start your own product line
And once you figure out how to formulate products be sure to write down and remember your favorite formulas / prototypes. This could be the basis for when you want to start your own product line. I experimented with a hair product line call Phique. I learned how to make the formulas through extensive experimenting I did when working on the Tresemme and VO5 product lines. This free report we put together will help if you want to start your own product line. I should mention that starting a beauty product line is a lot different than learning formulating and cosmetic science. Business is a different beast than science.
Take free-lance formulating jobs
If you love formulating but don’t want to work for someone else, you can set up your own lab space and start offering your own formulation services. People are always contacting me in the hopes of finding a cosmetic chemist who can make a product for them. I turn away a lot of formulating work because I’m just not interested in doing work on someone else’s product. But formulating is fun and if you like to create products without having to worry about marketing them yourself, free lance formulating is a great choice. You can reach out to other freelance formulators to find out what their job is all about.
Become an expert witness
Another interesting area in which you can make a living is as an expert witness. Often lawyers are in need of people who know the science of the cosmetic industry and if you are an established expert, you might be right as an expert witness. It helps to have a number of years of experience and to have an advanced education. Some lawyers only like to work with people with advanced degrees. But cosmetic science is a specialty in which there are not a lot of experts. If you work at it, you can find jobs as an expert witness.
Invest your money
Finally, another great way to generate more money is to invest your money. There are a ton of people out there who will tell you where you should put your money. Usually, that is in a place where it will make them a lot of money. Skip the financial planner and do it yourself. It really isn’t hard. One of the best books on the subjects is The Smartest Investment Book You’ll Ever Read. Read it. Live it. Your bank account will thank you.
Being a cosmetic chemist is a great job but if maximizing your money potential is of most importance to you, you might consider something else like going into sales. However, you can still make a good living as a cosmetic chemist. If you use some of the tips in this post, you can do even better financially.