How to Become a Chemist

A chemist is a scientist who is an expert in chemicals, molecules, and matter.

If you enjoy chemistry, have strong academic skills, and would like to work in a research setting then you might like to become a chemist.

All materials and substances around us are made up of different chemicals.

Through studying, testing, and research, chemists find better ways to use these chemicals through understanding them better.

Some chemists work on products that we buy and use.

Others look at improving drugs and medicines.

Some use chemistry to study the environment and world around us.

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Education Requirements to Become a Chemist

If you’re in high school and want to become a chemist, you should concentrate on getting good grades in chemistry, as well as other science-based subjects.

Computer modeling is another skill which may help later on.

If you enjoy lab work and experiments, you will enjoy being a chemist.

The minimum requirement to work as a chemist is a four year bachelor’s degree with a major in chemistry.

To make sure that the college you choose is fully accredited, take a look at the American Chemical Society website.

Elective subjects should include physics, mathematics, and computer science.

Developing strong computer literacy while at high school and college is really important.

This is a key skill that potential employers will be looking for.

If you feel like you need help in this area, enroll in a short course or take a couple of night classes.

With a bachelor’s degree, you will be qualified to work in quality control and testing as a chemist, or as an assistant to a more qualified chemist.

Many research jobs will require you to complete a master’s or doctorate in chemistry.

A master’s degree takes one to two years of study, while a doctorate takes three to four.

Chemist Job Description

When you become a chemist, there are many different areas of this field you could choose to work in.

Here are some of the niche areas:

Organic Chemist – study the carbon compounds that are found in all living things.

Physical and Theoretical Chemist – study the theory of matter, and the makeup of atoms and molecules.

Materials Chemist – use chemistry to improve current products or develop new ones.

Most chemists work within the sub sector.

Many chemists also work as teachers, at either the high school or college level.

Most chemists work in a laboratory, or in an office.

They may work developing new products, conducting original research, or putting together complex theories.

Here are some of the tasks a chemist might be responsible for:

  • Conducting research
  • Collecting data
  • Improving and developing products
  • Gathering samples
  • Completing lab work

Chemist Salary and Career Path

Working as a chemist, it’s like you’ll being as a research assistant, or working in quality control.

With experience and postgraduate qualifications, you can move on to more involved research projects and product development.

Experienced chemists may move on to managerial roles, such as natural science managers.

In the past, many chemists have worked in the chemical manufacture industry; however these jobs are now in decline.

Better opportunities are found in areas like biotechnology and pharmaceutical research.

Strong job growth is not predicted for chemists in the coming years.

About one quarter of all qualified chemists work in the education industry, as teachers in either high school or college settings.

The median salary for a chemist is $66,000 a year.

The top 10% earners make over $109,000 a year.

The highest paying employers were colleges, where chemists worked as professors, or small firms where chemists worked in product development.

Some similar jobs to that of a chemist include:

If you’re looking for a research based career that offers plenty of options and variety, then you might like to become a chemist.

The work is interesting, and there are many varied fields to enter.

The high paying jobs require a postgraduate education, but also offer a more challenging work environment and a higher salary.

There is also the option to gain a higher degree later in a career, and other opportunities for professional development.

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