Analytical Chemist Job Facts

Analytical chemists study all forms of materials. Analytical chemistry plays a major part in all areas of industry and science.  It's particularly important in scientific research. Most common household and commercial items are a result of chemically based materials production and research. 

The Work Environment

Analytical chemists are involved in all facets of commercial and academic science. Their work includes industrial research, academic research, forensic science, organic chemistry, food technology and many other areas of study. The work of an analytical chemist is based on studying the nature, structure and properties of materials. This work is essentially research-based, and conducted on very strict scientific principles in a lab-based working environment.

Process Analysis

A new material is to be patented if it meets conditions for full scale production. The developers need to know everything about their new product. The analytical chemist is given the job as a commercial contract. With the contract comes a list of specific requirements for information:

  1. Acid resistance
  2. Alkali resistance
  3. Chemical resistance to specific corrosives
  4. Behavior of the polymer at temperatures, including freezing, melting and boiling points.
  5. Strength and integrity of the material under loads 
  6. Flexibility of the material when subjected to stresses

This "shopping list" of information is required to assess the polymer's design parameters. With a new material, the testing can result in the researchers literally going back to the drawing board to produce a whole new product, if the tests show serious flaws. 

Chemical analysts often work with industrial products. Product and industrial safety is often based on chemical analysis of consumer materials.  It's chemical analysis, among other forms of testing, which determines whether a product is safe to use. Chemical analysis can detect the presence of lead, mercury, and other toxic materials in consumer goods. A negative finding in analysis can force existing products to be recalled, or taken off the market. 

Wages and Hours

Median salary is $70,000. Upper level salaries are approximately $120,000. Intellectual property rights may add significantly to income. Standard hours, and contract time frames in commercial analyses. Typically, that means 8-5, Monday through Friday.

The Career Environment

The overall employment market for analytical chemists in the US is growing at the national average of about 9%. This is both an academic and a commercial profession, with a good level of job and career mobility across the industrial and academic sectors. Career progression for analytical chemists is based on experience, qualifications and specializations. Masters degrees and above are the best career advancement tools and specialization creates more career avenues.

Most analytical chemists operate as part of an organization like an industrial chemistry corporation. Academic careers, teaching, training and scientific research are the other main streams of career orientation. The research area is the primary area of major advancement in terms of career achievements. Research can be funded to very high levels of return for the chemical analysts, including rights and royalties to discoveries.