How The Strong Interest Inventory Relates to a Career as a Chemist
Chemists perform experiments and analyze data to understand chemical reactions and processes. Using their knowledge of chemical principles and their analytical skills, they design and conduct experiments, interpret results, and draw conclusions. This requires a high degree of critical thinking, problem-solving, and attention to detail, which are characteristics commonly associated with individuals in the Investigative Theme Code. Additionally, chemists may also use various tools and technologies, such as spectrometers and chromatography, to analyze and measure the properties of chemicals and compounds. Chemists must also be able to analyze, prepare, and interpret test results and be able to write technical reports. They must also be able to work with hazardous materials, such as acids and other chemicals, in a safe and responsible manner.
What Does a Chemist Do?
A career as a chemist can take many paths, and there are many specializations one can go into. Within the field of industrial and applied chemistry, a professional may choose to specialize in areas such as materials science and engineering, biotechnology, nanomaterials, and green chemistry. Analytical chemists may specialize in quantifying and characterizing the composition of a sample, and environmental chemists may focus on assessing environmental contamination and recommending ways to remediate it. In addition, chemists may specialize in areas such as toxicology, forensic science, food science, and pharmaceuticals.
A Chemist’s Day-to-Day Tasks and Tools
Chemists utilize a range of specialized tools and technologies in their work. Some of these tools include spectrometers such as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Mass Spectrometry (MS) spectrometers, chromatography techniques such as gas chromatography (GC) and liquid chromatography (LC), transmission electron microscopes (TEM), scanning electron microscopes (SEM), centrifuges, and balances. They also make use of computer software such as molecular modeling software, data analysis software, and laboratory information management systems (LIMS) to manage and analyze their data. The specific tools and technologies used by chemists can depend on the nature of their research, the type of samples they are analyzing, and the requirements of their lab or organization.
As stated by The Department of Labor, The Following Work Tasks are Most Often Completed by Chemists:
- Study chemical compounds or substances.
- Assess quality of resources or finished products.
- Sustain laboratory or technical equipment.
- Construct compounds or solutions for products or testing.
- Inspect operational procedures in technical environments to confirm conformance to standards.
- Initiate standards for products, processes, or procedures.
- Construct scientific or technical reports or presentations.
- Cooperate on research activities with scientists or technical experts.
- Expand new or advanced products or construction methods.
- Manage scientific or technical personnel.
- Control scientific or technical project resources.
- Explore methods to expand food products.
(Retrieved from O’netOnline.org. Chemists. Career Code: 19-2031.00 Detailed Work Activities)
Core Activities for Chemists:
- Investigate organic or inorganic compounds to establish chemical or physical properties, composition, structure, relationships, or reactions, using chromatography, spectroscopy, or spectrophotometry techniques.
- Manage quality control tests.
- Sustain laboratory instruments to guarantee proper working order and troubleshoot breakdowns when needed.
- Compose test solutions, compounds, or reagents for laboratory personnel to regulate tests.
- Persuade changes in composition of matters by introducing heat, light, energy, or chemical catalysts for quantitative or qualitative analysis.
- Assess laboratory protection procedures to ensure compliance with standards or to make improvements as needed.
- Gather and examine test information to determine procedure or equipment operating efficiency or to diagnose malfunctions.
- Write technical papers or presentations or prepare standards and specifications for processes, facilities, products, or tests.
- Discuss with scientists or engineers to conduct studies of research projects, interpret test results, or develop nonstandard tests.
- Expand, improve, or customize products, equipment, formulas, methods, or analytical methods.
- Conduct, coordinate, or advise personnel in test procedures for evaluating components or physical properties of materials.
- Locating laboratory supplies, such as chemicals, when supplies are low or near their expiration date.
- Examine effects of various methods of processing, preserving, or packaging on composition or properties of foods.
(Retrieved from O’netOnline.org. Chemists. Career Code: 19-2031.00 Tasks- Category-Core)
Experience and Education
For those interested in a career as a chemist, the education and training requirements are quite stringent. Typically, a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a related field is required for entry-level positions. However, for higher positions, such as a research or analytical chemist, a master’s degree or Ph.D. may be required. For those seeking to work in a specialized field of chemistry or a research laboratory, additional courses in mathematics, physics and biology may be required. In addition, some employers may require a state license or certification. It is important to research the specific educational and training requirements for the position you are seeking.
The three primary professional certifications for chemists are the Certified Chemical Professional (CCP), Certified Professional Chemist (CPC), and Certified Professional Chemist Technician (CPCT). Each certification requires the completion of a rigorous set of exams designed to test the knowledge and skills of an individual in the field of chemistry.
Salary and Wages
A career as a chemist can provide competitive compensation. The potential salary range for chemists varies depending on the industry, location, and experience. Generally, chemists earn an average of $81,000 per year according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries can range from $51,000 per year for entry-level positions to $93,000 for experienced chemists. In addition to salary, chemists often receive benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation, and 401(k) retirement plans.
Below are some employment trends for Chemists:
- Median Salary: $38.19 hourly, $79,430 annually
- Employment: 83,600 employees
- Projected growth (2021-2031): Average (4% to 7%)
- Projected job openings (2021-2031): 7,600
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2012-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org