Advice on starting in industry and entering a cosmetic science grad program

star90star90 Member
edited June 2014 in Career
Hello all,
I graduated from Rutgers back in January, took my gre exam, and have been planning on applying to the personal care science graduate program at Rutgers and the Fairleigh Dickinson cosmetic science program. I'm leaning more toward the Rutgers program since I'm familiar with the area and have been able to meet with the director of the program and learn more about it. However, the courses at Fairleigh Dickinson seem more appealing to me because all of them are related to cosmetic science whereas the Rutgers program requires several business courses and I'm more interested in formulating and testing.

I was wondering if anyone here is familiar with either of the programs and might have some advice on whether business courses would be useful for a cosmetic chemist. Also, how good are job prospects after graduating from this type of program?  I've been applying to mainly lab tech jobs online or through a staffing company and have been on a few interviews since I graduated, but I haven't had much luck and there aren't many entry-level opportunities so I was wondering if getting a masters degree would make me more marketable.
Thanks in advance and I appreciate any input.


  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    I don't know much about the Rutgers program but the Fairleigh Dickinson program is taught by industry experts so you'll get more cosmetic industry focus.  

    I know it looks great on a resume to have a degree from there and you'll have the chance to make lots of networking connections so job prospects should be good.  

    It ultimately depends on what your end goal is however.  If you want to get a job as a formulator, you might be better off looking for a job now and get your company to pay for schooling.  The online University of Cincinnati program is another good option.
  • star90star90 Member
    Thanks for replying Perry!  I was focusing more on finding a job first, but I haven't been able to find many internships,lab tech, or entry-level positions in formulating.  So now I'm considering entering a master's program first to help me gain more knowledge and I'll continue looking for a job and experimenting on my own.
  • BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student

    I can't speak about the Rutgers program, except to answer your question about the business classes - yes, they're relevant. You can make brilliant new formulas all day long, but if there's no one to sell them or no capability to manufacture them, you really haven't accomplished much. 

    Think about this scenario - you make a wonderful new product, everyone you show it to is raving about how good it is...except the manufacturing people. They tell you that they can't make it - the process engineer tells you that you'll have to make it with a particular type of equipment that he doesn't have. Now you have to convince the company to buy an expensive bit of equipment. How do you do that? Business courses should tell you how.

    Also, formulation internships are one of the biggest reasons to go to grad school. Don't go to a program that does not have them.

    Lastly, experience as a lab tech does very little to help you get a job as a formulator. It's not entry-level for a chemist - it's below entry-level. It doesn't do much more than a job washing glassware. If you don't desperately, desperately need a job, don't do it.
    Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
  • DavidWDavidW Member, PCF student
    You have to weigh the cost of grad school against the debt you may incur vs future earnings.  You may be better off seeking out small or very small manufacturers and offering services for free or minimum wage.  I think in a small or very small company you may have success in getting hired as a tech.  Even cleaning glassware for the chemist will enable you to be around the lab, ask questions, watch and learn.

    Also, in the mean time maybe becoming a DIY formulator will give you real life experience.  There are many websites to get info from on this.  There is also a FB page on the subject where people ask for and get advice.  The lady who is the admin for the page is great.  Very knowledgeable and helpful.
    Also see:

    Starting as a DIY making things in your house will give you experience.  At least then a small company will know you can at least properly weigh chemicals, follow batching instructions etc..

  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    entry level R&D positions in private label manufacturers are a good introduction to the industry if you want to work at the bench; they're less demanding than big-name brander, and you'll get a wider range of experience than you would with a big-name brander

    (that was how I got into this industry, having previously worked as a QC technician in a related industry)
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
  • star90star90 Member
    @bobzchemist- Ok the business part makes more sense now. I thought the courses would be useful only for those who have their own businesses, but I can see now that they would be useful.  Most of the lab tech jobs I have been applying to and interviewing for have some formulation involved in addition to the cleaning glassware.

    @DavidW- The cost of both of the programs is one of my main concerns. I have been looking into diy formulating so I think I'll try getting starting with that.
    Thanks for all the advice and info everyone. I think I will look more into diy formulating and private label companies. 
  • Bill_TogeBill_Toge Member, Professional Chemist
    edited June 2014
    also I agree with @DavidW about DIY formulating; you want to show would-be employers some actual evidence you know what you're doing, rather than just trotting out the usual unsubstantiated assertions that every other new graduate comes armed with
    UK based formulation chemist. Strongest subjects: hair styling, hair bleaches, hair dyes (oxidative and non-oxidative) I know some stuff about: EU regulations, emulsions (O/W and W/O), toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoos, other toiletries
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