Chemists perform experiments and study substances at the molecular level. They need to learn the way substances react with each other so they can develop new products and enhance quality of products now available. Chemists will usually carry out complex research projects where they prepare solutions, test them, and analyze the results. Then, they'll write reports with their findings and present these findings to other scientists.
Chemists typically work in teams with scientists from other specialties. For instance, chemists who are developing new drugs may work with a biologist to create the drug safely and an engineer to produce the drug quickly and affordably. Since they work in teams, chemists need to have good communication skills and work well with others. Additionally, there are times when they're responsible for leading these teams. In those cases, they need to have the necessary skills to direct and motivate their team members.
Chemist Job Education Requirements
For an entry-level chemist job, most employers are looking for candidates who have at least a bachelor's degree in chemistry or a closely related field. Classes at the undergraduate level typically deal with physics, mathematics, biological science, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and physical chemistry. From there, many students will choose to continue their education, since a master's degree or doctorate is required for research jobs in chemistry. This is also where students will choose to focus on a specific area of chemistry such as environmental chemistry or medicinal chemistry.
Chemist Job Market
While employment of chemists is believed to grow slower than average for all other occupations, it's still expected to grow by 6 percent over the next 10 years. While some of these new jobs will come from natural job growth, others will open up as older chemists retire from the workforce. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies are expected to create most of these job openings, while universities and research laboratories will also create new jobs.
Chemist Job Salary Information
The median annual salary for chemists is around $71,000. While the lowest 10 percent earn close to $41,000 a year, the highest 19 percent can earn $120,000 or more a year. The federal government is the highest paying industry with employees who earn around $100,000 a year. Employees in the research and development industry are the next highest paid with an annual salary of about $79,000. Chemists typically work full time and have regular working hours.