What does a Chemist do?
A Chemist works with elements and compounds that are found in nature or are human-made. Chemists can be employed by a wide variety of employers including pharmaceutical, industrial, biological, manufacturing and oil companies to name just a few. A Chemists primary job function is research interactions between different chemicals to discover beneficial compounds that can be used for the betterment of the human race.
Most employers require a minimum of a bachelor's degree with most preferring an advanced degree such as a Masters of Doctorate. These degrees can be obtained through local colleges, universities or accredited educational institutions. Chemists frequently process chemical equations. Having a firm grasp on advanced computation is a must in the field. Depending on the type of employer, a chemist may be required to travel to site locations to perform chemical testing.
- Coordinate with senior management to identify an area of interest
- Through modeling, form hypothetical chemical compounds to attain
- Utilize lab equipment to synthesize compounds
- Keep inventory of all chemicals with zero variance
- Assist fellow chemists with larger projects
- Travel to different locations for testing when requested
- Identify improvements that can be made to existing lab processes
- Observe all company and lab safety protocol
- Advanced Degree (preferred)
- Excellent computational ability
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- An understand of organic, inorganic, physical or biochemistry
- Familiarity with common lab equipment
- Full knowledge of hazardous material disposal laws
- Ability to work safely around hazardous materials
- Willingness to occasionally travel
- Basic knowledge of the Microsoft Office Suite
Average Base Pay
Chemist Career Path
Learn how to become a Chemist, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.
Average Years of Experience
“Very good orientation process and if you're willing to learn will let your career grow.”
“Human resources feels disconnected and it is difficult to find information on all benefit programs.”
“Countless people have gotten experience then moved on else where to jobs with the same work but better compensation.”
“0.50 raise to your hourly pay is “really good” because it’s better than the $0.10 raise some of your coworkers are getting.”
“Poor salary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .”
“It was a mostly stress free experience outside of a couple of days where I had twice as many analyses to do.”
“Scheduling Issues and Overtime.”
“People are good and respectful.”
Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of chemists
A typical day as a chemist includes researching how atoms and molecules interact to achieve a deeper understanding of various types of matter. Chemists use this knowledge to create new materials or processes for various industries, or to improve existing processes and materials.
Yes, chemistry is an excellent career which offers the opportunity to work in many industries, including pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, petrochemicals, and nuclear chemistry. Working as a chemist means spending considerable amounts of time doing research in a lab, but some professionals also publish their findings.
Yes, chemists earn a good salary. The average pay for a chemist in the U.S. is $68,134 per year. Top chemists in the field earn as much as $90,760 per year, with additional salary boosts attached to becoming a senior chemist or lead chemist.
There are some difficult aspects of being a chemist. For example, during large research projects, chemists may need to stay in the lab for overtime. When considering becoming a chemist, keep in mind that these professionals need to have good attention to detail, follow lab safety procedures, and rigorously document their processes and findings.