The Path to a Successful Career as an Analytical Chemist
Analytical chemistry jobs require specific education and a knack for the scientific method, precision, and technical communication. An analytical chemist studies the chemical composition and behavior of substances. As you can imagine, there is a wide range of businesses that need analytical chemists on hand, and that makes this career versatile and exciting.
Education Required for Analytical Chemistry Jobs
First and foremost, entry-level analytical chemistry jobs require a four-year bachelor’s degree in chemistry, physics, or a related field. Just like any other career, seeking out industry-specific lab experience, volunteer opportunities, or internships is a great way to set yourself apart from your competition.
Other advanced analytical chemistry jobs, such as research-intensive roles, will require a master’s degree or Ph.D. By pursuing a graduate and/or post-graduate degree, you can take your general chemistry knowledge and specialize as an analytical chemist. For managerial-track analytical chemistry careers, a Ph.D. and extensive laboratory experience will be required.
So, while you are studying for your undergraduate degree, consider what type of analytical chemist job you want to fill. If you see yourself moving on to manage others or would love to be on the cutting edge of research, set yourself up now to apply for graduate degrees and internships in research laboratories, both within your college and industry.
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Analytical Chemist Roles Across Different Industries
Analytical chemistry careers span across industry sectors, from government research and college laboratories to agriculture and food processing as well as consumer goods. Analytical chemists specialize in chemistry, of course, but also in computer science, statistics, instrumentation, and testing, enabling them to solve complex and interesting problems.
For example, in the food and agriculture or the pharmaceutical industries, analytical chemists test products for safety and quality. They also test and ensure that environmental and other regulations are being met.
Analytical chemists are poised to lead the change when it comes to quality assurance. But they also have advanced skills to work with highly specific instrumentation and test equipment that other colleagues are not trained to use. Examples include:
- Water analysis
- Acid/base functional group analysis
- Repair and calibration of instrumentation
In a research lab setting, analytical chemists conduct research, develop and improve products or processes, and may even design new instruments to be used across industries by analytical chemists of all specialties. If you enjoyed your dissertation during graduate school and love the thought of discovering new things and contributing novel ideas to the field of analytical chemistry, an academic or government research lab would be a great place for you to work.
The Average Analytical Chemist Salary
As you can imagine, the average analytical chemist salary varies depending on your position, state, and education level. But, on average, an analytical chemist makes $71,770 per year. To get a feel for what you can expect, the average analytical chemist salary ranges from $41,080 for the bottom 10% of earners to $120,600 for the top 10%.
Entry-level positions will net you an analytical chemist salary much closer to the $41,000 mark, both due to the lower education requirements and lack of experience in the industry. If that sounds a little low to you, consider stretching for those research-heavy roles or eventually moving into a managerial position, where you can expect to make above six-figures per year.
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