...Other changes in the 2015 guidelines seek to improve student preparation for postbaccalaureate careers. However, the committee does not prescribe a one-size-fits-all curriculum for approved programs. Consider polymers, which are important to society and a major source of jobs for professional chemists. CPT debated the essential role of polymers in the curriculum for a certified degree. Most compelling to CPT is the fact that the properties of large molecules and aggregated systems are different from those of small molecules and that students need to understand these differences...This reminds me of a recent piece by chemblogosphere stalwart John Spevacek, who wrote recently about the numbers of professional polymer chemists:
I finally hit some real paydirt when I looked at the federal government's tabulations. The Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS) has collected all the relevant data and provides an accurate picture (open up the spreadsheet for chemists if you to see all the details). In 2012, there were just under 88,000 chemists. Of that number, 2100 worked in "Resin, synthetic rubber, and artificial synthetic fibers and filaments manufacturing", 1900 worked in "Paint, coating, and adhesive manufacturing", and 600 in "Plastics and rubber products manufacturing". That's 4600 in manufacturing. There are some broader categories that undoubtedly include polymer chemists, such as the nearly 18,000 that work in "Scientific research and development services", and the 4600 that work in "Educational services; state, local, and private". Even if everyone of these last two groups were all polymer chemists, that would still only total to 27,200 chemists, not even 31% of the total workforce. I think a more realistic number would be just 10% of those last two groups, which would be 2260 more for a grand total of 6860 chemists. This is not quite 8% of the workforce.It seems reasonable to me that undergraduates should get some exposure to polymer chemistry, but it is not clear to me that it's a "major source of jobs." The polymer industry is huge, to be sure, but the number of working polymer chemists is unclear.