Chemistry Career Field Structure
Most of the over 50,000 chemical products manufactured by the chemical and allied industries are used by other industries to make jet fuels, food additives, paints, detergents, and perfumes. The range of products is so wide that no one method of categorizing them exists. A simple division can be made by classifying them as organic or inorganic chemicals.
The chemical industry is a loose confederation of eight separate branches: agriculture, detergents, nitrogen compounds, paints, paper and textiles, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, and plastics. The agricultural chemicals industry produces fertilizers and pesticides. The nitrogen compounds necessary for fertilizers are also essential for the manufacture of explosives such as nitroglycerine and TNT. Products made by these industries are also used to produce fireworks, adhesives, and inks.
The pharmaceutical industry is involved in the production of drugs. Petrochemicals employees represent about 30 percent of the chemical workforce. The petrochemical industry is currently growing very rapidly and accounts for the largest number of new chemicals.
The pulp, paper, and textile industries are huge consumers of chlorine and chlorine compounds used as bleaching agents. The plastics industry makes containers, sheeting, films, fibers, fabrics, piping, automobile parts, tires, hoses, and wearing apparel from polymers like nylon, Dacron, and vinyls.
The detergent industry produces soaps, detergents, special cleaning preparations, ammonia, bleaches, floor waxes, shoe polishes, cosmetics, deodorants, and perfumes. The paints and allied products industry makes paints, varnishes, lacquers, enamels, putties, paint removers, sealers, and stains. The paints and coatings sector usually remains fairly stable and is often used as an indicator of the overall economy.
The divisions of the chemical industry differ in the occupational makeup of their workforce. Industries that make finished products ready for sale to the final consumer, such as paint and cosmetics, hire more administrative, marketing, and managerial personnel. A greater number of production workers are employed by industries that sell their products primarily to industrial consumers. The chemical industry is highly capital- intensive and has factories in practically every state. California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas have the most plants.