Analytical Scientist Job Description
Analytical scientists identify the chemical composition, properties, and behavior of substances through analytical techniques such as spectroscopy, chromatography, and electrophoresis. They are usually part of the research and development team in companies or institutions that deal with drug formulation, forensics, toxicology, chemical manufacturing, or other scientific disciplines. A major part of their work is conducting end-to-end tests and experiments, but they also develop new analytical methods and manage laboratory logistics and regulatory compliance. They typically have full-time or part-time schedules but are rarely self-employed, and they may spend several hours standing inside the laboratory.
Analytical Scientist Duties and Responsibilities
Being an analytical scientist involves several different duties and responsibilities. We scoured online job postings to identify the following responsibilities that are common among all analytical scientists:
Develop Analytical Methods
In response to changing requirements during product development, analytical scientists design new analytical methods or refine existing ones, then validate these for official use. Alternatively, they may participate in method transfers, where they use methods that originated from other laboratories.
It’s the job of analytical scientists to conduct comprehensive rounds of testing on raw materials as well as in-process and final products. These may include stability, UV/VIS, dissolution, HPLC, and physical tests, which check for composition, physical and chemical properties, and behavior over time.
Analytical scientists gather and document experimental data using lab notebooks and specialized software. Afterwards, they perform statistical analysis on these and interpret the results, relaying their findings through summary reports, technical documents, and even formal presentations.
In order to meet project deadlines, analytical scientists manage the laboratory inventory, monitoring stock levels and procuring reagents, standards, and other necessary lab supplies. Likewise, they ensure that equipment is in good working order by calibrating these, checking for accuracy, and making minor repairs.
The chemical and pharmaceutical industries require strict adherence to standards, and analytical scientists keep abreast with these, constantly assessing company procedures and enforcing compliance with departmental rules, regulatory requirements, and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) guidelines.
Analytical Scientist Skills and Qualifications
Analytical scientists possess strong technical acumen and problem-solving skills, along with excellent hand-eye coordination for handling laboratory instruments. Companies that hire analytical scientists look for a degree in chemistry, pharmacy, or a related field and the following abilities:
- Chemistry knowledge – at the very least, analytical scientists formally studied chemistry for at least four years, so they possess in-depth knowledge of the subject. They are well-versed in both theory and practice and are interested in pushing the boundaries of research
- Critical thinking – analytical scientists must be able to analyze and interpret data accurately and apply the results to help create new products or procedures. They must also have the creativity to find solutions to obstacles and technical issues
- Attention to detail – being precise is extremely important for analytical scientists, who should follow standard procedures and record data accurately if they are to hold successful tests and experiments
- Collaboration – analytical scientists often coordinate with suppliers and function within a research and development team, where they exchange findings with engineers and other scientists, so they must have good communication and teamwork skills
- Technical writing – it’s essential for analytical scientists to be comfortable with technical writing, since they log all of their experimental data and prepare reports and procedural documents
Tools of the Trade
While analytical scientists use different equipment based on the nature of their research, here are some tools common to all analytical scientists:
- Laboratory safety equipment (gloves, safety goggles, laboratory coats)
- Laboratory instruments (titrators, microplates, spectrometers)
- Data analysis software (Certara, Asteris, Biovia Biologics Suite)
- Microsoft Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
Analytical Scientist Education and Training
Analytical scientists need to have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, pharmacy, biochemistry, or a related field, and some employers may even require a master’s degree. Since many of their tasks are extremely hands-on, analytical scientists must have gained expertise through at least one year of experience in an FDA-regulated research or laboratory environment. On-the-job training involves learning new lab techniques that are specialized to current projects, and they should keep their knowledge up-to-date by constantly pursuing learning opportunities.
Analytical Scientist Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary for analytical scientists is around $66,000, according to PayScale. The lowest ten percent of earners receive less than $46,000 every year, while the highest ten percent earn more than $87,000.
Industry employment for chemists, a sector that includes analytical scientists, is expected to grow by six percent from 2016 to 2026. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) classifies this as an average rate and attributes it to the increase in scientific research and development, and the need for product validation and quality control in manufacturing.
Are you ready to become an analytical scientist? Here are some resources that you might want to look through:
The Analytical Scientist – this interactive, digital magazine is geared towards analytical scientists from all industries and features informative interviews, commentaries, news updates, and research summaries in an easy-to-read format. Website visitors can further access equipment profiles and a yearly power list of top 100 people in analytical science
Analytical Techniques in the Pharmaceutical Sciences – to undertake pharmaceutical design and development, analytical scientists must know a drug’s individual components, how these interact, and how the drug as a whole reacts to different environments. This textbook describes analytical techniques for understanding each of these
American Chemical Society – with more than 150,000 members worldwide, ACS is the largest science-centric society and welcomes all chemistry practitioners, whether students, professors, or professionals. It lays claim to an impressive number of publications from Nobel Laureates and scholarships, and members can access career tools and journal discounts
Statistics and Chemometrics for Analytical Chemistry – this book established a solid foundation in statistics for those studying analytical chemistry, covering mathematical methods, concepts such as sampling uncertainty, and the experimental design process
American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists – AAPS caters to scientists in the pharmaceutical industry, including biologists, analytical scientists, and engineers. Members can join focus groups for specific disciplines, access journals and magazines, and receive networking and employment opportunities
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