Actually depending on location, 45k is hard to find for BS starting out. No problem getting there in about 5 years. As for the work, I enjoy being in the lab, so it’s good for me. Realize though that you still have to deal with the same office politics that come with other jobs.
I’d say it’s a great option though with many options for starting out around 30k-35k per year. Plus, as you’ve mentioned, it’s a rather versatile degree that you could many different directions with for grad school.
In industry for working 2nd and 3rd shifts, you’d need to look at jobs in production, which aren’t as much fun. Those jobs tend to be rather repetitive since you basically run the same tests on samples off the production line every day. The can only keep me interested for about a week or so. It’s much more fun getting into the R&D side where there’s variety and you need to think more. It’s rather useful to have a MS or PhD for most R&D work, but you can find some good options in smaller companies.
If you are thinking of doing a graduate qualification after your chemistry degree, my advice would be the QP qualification - might be called something else in whatever country you are in - Basically it is the qualification a chemist needs to make him the equivalent of a pharmacist in the pharmaceutical industry and it means that you personally are the person who signs off every single pharmaceutical product as fit for release for sale.
When I say personally, I mean personally. The buck stops with you. If you make a boo boo and release substandard or out of spec product, you, Mr Wesley Clark are liable. Your own self. Off to jail for manslaughter if people die from taking something you signed off.
Not your company.
Have I made that clear enough? Good!
On the upside, of course, is the fact that you get paid an absolute ball of money for that responsibility.
I am a qualified chemist and hadn’t even heard of the QP qualification until I got into the pharmaceutical industry, so unless things have changed markedly since my day, people outside the industry have never heard of it either - just a heads up for you.
Actually there’s a lot of BS degreed chemists who do that type of work (repetitive that is.) I’ve found that R&D work is the best way to go. With a BS, you’d most likely find your best options on the Development end more.
As for acedemia, you’d want to go further than a BS. You could find some work though as a lab instructor or coordinator. Otherwise you can latch onto research work under some prof’s grant.
From what I’ve found, your best options for your plan (BS in Chem/Biochem) would be to find a R&D job with a small company. There’s a fair number of options in various industries: pharmaceuticals, coatings (paint), paper, materials analysis in electronics, etc. By getting in with a smaller company, there’s a lot more chance to find a wide variety of work. With larger companies, it’s very likely that you’d end up just operating one or two instruments or run the same tests everyday in the lab.
Depending on where you’ll end up living, there can be a lot of opportunities. For R&D work, some days can be repetitive as some projects go on longer than others. Some projects I do can last a couple weeks (or less) while others have been as long as 6 months. But this isn’t 6 months of the same experiment mind you, it’s just that the process can take that long or longer. It depends on the industry, but it doesn’t seem repetitive because you’re always tweaking things or adjusting to make it work better. This keeps you thinking and on your toes.