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Career profile Chemist

Also known as Air Quality Chemist, Analytical Chemist, Chemical Laboratory Scientist, Chemist, Forensic Chemist, Forensic Scientist, Quality Control Chemist (QC Chemist), Research Chemist, Scientist, Senior Chemist

Chemist

Also known as Air Quality Chemist, Analytical Chemist, Chemical Laboratory Scientist

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$44,970 - $139,650 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Science
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Production and Processing
Core tasks
  • Analyze organic or inorganic compounds to determine chemical or physical properties, composition, structure, relationships, or reactions, using chromatography, spectroscopy, or spectrophotometry techniques.
  • Conduct quality control tests.
  • Maintain laboratory instruments to ensure proper working order and troubleshoot malfunctions when needed.
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What does a Chemist do?

Chemists conduct qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses or experiments in laboratories for quality or process control or to develop new products or knowledge.

What kind of tasks does a Chemist perform regularly?

Chemists are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Analyze organic or inorganic compounds to determine chemical or physical properties, composition, structure, relationships, or reactions, using chromatography, spectroscopy, or spectrophotometry techniques.
  • Conduct quality control tests.
  • Maintain laboratory instruments to ensure proper working order and troubleshoot malfunctions when needed.
  • Prepare test solutions, compounds, or reagents for laboratory personnel to conduct tests.
  • Induce changes in composition of substances by introducing heat, light, energy, or chemical catalysts for quantitative or qualitative analysis.
  • Evaluate laboratory safety procedures to ensure compliance with standards or to make improvements as needed.
  • Compile and analyze test information to determine process or equipment operating efficiency or to diagnose malfunctions.
  • Write technical papers or reports or prepare standards and specifications for processes, facilities, products, or tests.
  • Confer with scientists or engineers to conduct analyses of research projects, interpret test results, or develop nonstandard tests.
  • Develop, improve, or customize products, equipment, formulas, processes, or analytical methods.
  • Direct, coordinate, or advise personnel in test procedures for analyzing components or physical properties of materials.
  • Purchase laboratory supplies, such as chemicals, when supplies are low or near their expiration date.

The above responsibilities are specific to Chemists. More generally, Chemists are involved in several broader types of activities:

Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Processing Information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

What is a Chemist salary?

The median salary for a Chemist is $79,300, and the average salary is $86,410. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Chemist salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Chemists earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Chemists earn less than $44,970 per year, 25% earn less than $58,070, 75% earn less than $108,390, and 90% earn less than $139,650.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Chemists is expected to change by 6.7%, and there should be roughly 8,400 open positions for Chemists every year.

Median annual salary
$79,300
Typical salary range
$44,970 - $139,650
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
6.7%

What personality traits are common among Chemists?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Chemist are usually higher in their Investigative and Realistic interests.

Chemists typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Chemists typically have moderate Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Chemist tend to value Achievement, Independence, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Chemists strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Second, Chemists strongly value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Chemists strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Chemists must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, integrity, and analytical thinking.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Chemists, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

What education and training do Chemists need?

Many Chemists will have a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.

Chemists usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.

Educational degrees among Chemists

  • 0.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 1.4% completed high school or secondary school
  • 2.3% completed some college coursework
  • 1.9% earned a Associate's degree
  • 51.2% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 22.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 20.3% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Chemists

Chemists may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as chemistry, mathematics, or production and processing knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Chemists might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Chemistry
Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Mathematics
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

Important Abilities needed by Chemists

Chemists must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Chemists need abilities such as oral comprehension, written comprehension, and deductive reasoning in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Chemists, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning
The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.

Critical Skills needed by Chemists

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Chemists frequently use skills like science, reading comprehension, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Chemists, ranked by their relative importance.

Science
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Mathematics
Using mathematics to solve problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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