What Do Chemists Do?
Chemists conduct both quantitative and qualitative chemical experiments and analyses in laboratories. They do these experiments for a number of reasons including quality control, process control, development of new products and development of knowledge.There is expected to be a 6% increase in job positions of this kind across the United States. That will translate to approximately 2,780 new jobs annually.
Chemists Skills and Abilities
A chemist has to have in depth knowledge of chemistry, mathematics, processing, computers, electronics and the English language. In order to be a successful chemist, you have to be able to solve problems by using scientific methods and rules. You should be able to think critically and use inductive and deductive reasoning. Part of being a chemist is being able to work with other scientists, which means you have to be able to actively listen, communicate well and have problem sensitivity.
If you are a chemist, your duties will vary based on your position and the institution that you work for. You may have to:
- Analyze inorganic and organic compounds in order to define chemical or physical properties, composition, relationships, reactions and structure.
- Use chromatography, spectroscopy or spectrophotometry techniques.
- Maintain and troubleshoot laboratory equipment.
- Introduce heat, light, chemical or energy catalysts in order to bring to compositions of substances for both qualitative and quantitative analyses.
- Evaluate safety procedures to make sure that no improvements are necessary.
- Create, improve and customize products, formulas, processes, equipment or analytical methods.
- Purchase laboratory supplies.
- Study effects of methods of preserving, packaging and processing on composition and properties of foods.
- Confer with scientists and engineers to analyze research projects.
- Compile and analyze test information in order to determine whether a process or equipment is operating at its most efficient and to diagnose malfunctions.
- Direct, coordinate and advise workers in text procedures for the analysis of components or physical properties of materials.
These are just a few duties that a chemist may have to do, but everything will have a technical air.
Chemists Tools and Technologies
To help with all chemist duties, you have to know how to use certain tools and technologies like:
- Analytical Balances
- Chemical Centrifuges
- Agilent ChemStation or Other Analytical or Scientific Software
- ChemInnovation Software Chem 4-D or Other Computer Aided Design (CAD) Software
- ChemSW Buffer Maker or Other Database User Interface and Query Software
- MoIDraw or Other Graphics or Photo Imaging Software
- ItemTracker or Other Inventory Management Software
These tools and technologies help a chemist do their work in a more efficient manner.
Education and Training for Chemists
As a chemist, you have to at least have your Bachelor’s degree. It is not unheard of for a chemist to have their Master’s or Doctoral degree. You have to take courses like:
- Analytical Chemistry
- Environmental Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Polymer Chemistry
- Theoretical Chemistry
- Physical Chemistry
- Materials Chemistry
- Forensic Chemistry
- Chemical Physics
You have to take courses that will give you the technical knowhow you need to be able to conduct appropriate experiments and do all other chemist duties.
The salary of a chemist varies depending on location, institution and previous experience. The average chemist in the United States makes about $73,500. The average salary for the lower 10% is about $41,600, but for the higher 10% it is about $126,200.
Chemists Jobs by Geography
Based on population, New Jersey, Texas and Pennsylvania have the most chemist positions. However, it is expected that Utah, Montana and Oregon will have the most growth in the upcoming years. There are many states whose average chemist makes more than the average in the United States. The top locations with the highest average salary are the District of Columbia, Maryland and Alaska. As you start to look for a chemist job, you have to think about where you get your education, what institution you want to work for and the location you want to live.