Chemical Analyst Job Description
Chemical analysts study substances to determine their chemical composition for research or product development purposes. They do so by following scientific procedures. This is a skilled position that requires a high level of education and experience. Chemical analysts typically work full time in a laboratory environment and report directly to project stakeholders or lead researchers. They usually work during standard office hours but may work long overtime hours as needed to complete research projects.
Chemical Analyst Duties and Responsibilities
Specific job duties for chemical analysts vary based on their employer and industry. However, there are several core tasks common to all chemical analysts, such as:
Study Chemical Reactions
Chemical analysts mix together different chemical substances and study the reactions between the two. This process is especially important for chemical analysts who are working to develop new products.
Test Materials for Quality
Chemical analysts are responsible for testing raw materials and finished products for quality assurance. They determine if the raw materials are good enough to be used in real-world applications, and then they test those applications to ensure the materials react well.
Collaborate with Scientists
Chemical analysts regularly collaborate with scientists during the product development process. They test materials for scientists and advise on the use of certain materials.
Write Reports on Findings
Many chemical analysts have written research papers and had them published in scientific journals. They write reports on their findings to advance knowledge in their field and to report directly to their supervisors.
Clean Lab and Equipment
After the day’s work is done, chemical analysts are often responsible for cleaning their lab equipment and the overall lab environment. This ensures a safe and clean environment for everyone who works in the lab.
Chemical Analyst Skills and Qualifications
Chemical analysts – as their job title might suggest – are highly analytical and logical in their thinking. Employers look to hire chemical analysts who possess at least a bachelor’s degree in a science-related field and experience in an industry-specific role. They also look to hire candidates with the following skills:
- Previous lab experience – chemical analysts have previous lab experience that has familiarized them with laboratory settings. They know how to clearly communicate to scientists and other analysts because of this experience
- Knowledge of lab procedures – chemical analysts know how laboratories work and understand all related safety procedures. They know when to stop an experiment and how to pick it back up the next day without losing progress
- Project management – chemical analysts are skilled project managers because they know how to manage deadlines and collaborate with different teams. They can see the end objective and understand what they need to do to accomplish it
- Analytical thinking – chemical analysts approach problems with an analytical line of thinking. This process can look different for each candidate, but it usually involves looking at the big picture and homing in on the specific pieces that need solving
- Attention to detail – chemical analysts pay close attention to details. They can spot seemingly minor occurrences and recognize how they affect the whole research process
Tools of the Trade
Chemical analysts regularly use the following tools:
- Lab equipment (glassware, microscopes)
- Chemical analytics software (Chemical Software, CDD Vault, LabCollector)
- Microsoft Office (especially Excel and Word)
Chemical Analyst Education and Training
Chemical analysts should have at least a bachelor’s degree in a science-related field. Many candidates also pursue graduate-level education in the same field. Some employers prefer candidates to possess industry-specific training and education, but these requirements vary widely between employers, so check job postings to know exactly what is required.
Some on-the-job training may take place when a new chemical analyst is hired, but the extent of this training varies depending on previous experience and education.
Chemical Analyst Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), chemical analysts can expect to make an average median salary of around $48,000 per year. Employees in the top 10 percent of the field make around $80,000 per year, while those in the bottom 10 percent of the field make as little as $30,000. Chemical analysts are usually eligible to receive comprehensive benefit packages that include health insurance, retirement plans, overtime pay, and paid time off. In some industries, chemical analysts receive performance-based incentives.
The BLS reports that the need for chemical analysts will grow at a 4 percent rate over the next 10 years, which is slower than other industries. Many analysts work in the manufacturing industry, which is expected to continue declining in the coming years.
Check out some of these helpful resources as you continue to research this position:
Chemistry World – this website is the source of answers for all your chemistry-related questions. It focuses on everything chemistry, including news, research breakthroughs, and more. Here you can find information through podcasts, videos, and blog posts. You can also participate in helpful webinars if you want to learn more about industry-specific topics
Chemistry on Reddit – this Reddit community has over 280,000 subscribers, many of whom regularly post questions and discussion threads. This is a great place to get real-time and real-world advice about chemistry applications. Recently discussed topics include industry lifestyle and how certain chemicals will affect granite countertops
Quantitative Chemical Analysis – this textbook contains lots of information about the process of analyzing chemical compounds and substances. Many readers continue to use this as a reference book even after they have graduated from university
Periodic Table Basic – this quick-study reference guide is invaluable for chemical analysts. They constantly refer to the periodic table, and having one close on hand is essential
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