What does a Chemist do?

A Chemist works with elements and compounds that are found in nature or are human-made. Chemists can be employed by a wide variety of employers including pharmaceutical, industrial, biological, manufacturing and oil companies to name just a few. A Chemists primary job function is research interactions between different chemicals to discover beneficial compounds that can be used for the betterment of the human race.

Most employers require a minimum of a bachelor's degree with most preferring an advanced degree such as a Masters of Doctorate. These degrees can be obtained through local colleges, universities or accredited educational institutions. Chemists frequently process chemical equations. Having a firm grasp on advanced computation is a must in the field. Depending on the type of employer, a chemist may be required to travel to site locations to perform chemical testing.

What responsibilities are common for Chemist jobs?
  • Coordinate with senior management to identify an area of interest
  • Through modeling, form hypothetical chemical compounds to attain
  • Utilize lab equipment to synthesize compounds
  • Keep inventory of all chemicals with zero variance
  • Assist fellow chemists with larger projects
  • Travel to different locations for testing when requested
  • Identify improvements that can be made to existing lab processes
  • Observe all company and lab safety protocol
What are the typical qualifications for Chemist jobs?
  • Advanced Degree (preferred)
  • Excellent computational ability
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • An understand of organic, inorganic, physical or biochemistry
  • Familiarity with common lab equipment
  • Full knowledge of hazardous material disposal laws
  • Ability to work safely around hazardous materials
  • Willingness to occasionally travel
  • Basic knowledge of the Microsoft Office Suite
EducationBachelor's Degree
Work/Life Balance
3.4 ★
Salary Range--
Career Opportunity
3.2 ★
Avg. Experience2-4 years

Chemist Salaries

Average Base Pay

$57,630 /yr
Same as national average
Not including cash compensation
See More Insights
$39K
Median: $58K
$85K
See More Insights
Glassdoor Estimated Salary

Chemist Career Path

Learn how to become a Chemist, what skills and education you need to succeed, and what level of pay to expect at each step on your career path.

L2
Chemist
$57,630/yr
L3
Senior Chemist
$78,859/yr
L4
Chemist IV
$60,526/yr
L2

Average Years of Experience

0 - 1
24%
2 - 4
41%
5 - 7
6%
8+
29%
Not including years spent in education and/or training
See Career Path

Chemist Insights

Read what Chemist professionals have to say about their job experiences and view top companies for this career.
MedtronicMedtronic
Chemist II
Jan 4, 2022

“Human resources feels disconnected and it is difficult to find information on all benefit programs.”

ApotexApotex
Analytical Chemist
Dec 5, 2021

“Very good orientation process and if you're willing to learn will let your career grow.”

Eurofins ScientificEurofins Scientific
Chemist
Apr 30, 2022

“0.50 raise to your hourly pay is “really good” because it’s better than the $0.10 raise some of your coworkers are getting.”

ArkemaArkema
Analytical Chemist
Oct 1, 2021

“It was a mostly stress free experience outside of a couple of days where I had twice as many analyses to do.”

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer ServicesFlorida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Chemist III
Aug 14, 2021

“Poor salary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .”

AcubeAppsAcubeApps
H R
Mar 15, 2021

“People are nice and understanding.”

University of Colorado BoulderUniversity of Colorado Boulder
Chemist
Mar 31, 2022

“Classes are enjoyable and challenging.”

GlaxoSmithKlineGlaxoSmithKline
Senior Research Chemist
Nov 27, 2021

“Good and experienced teams.”

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Chemist Interviews

Frequently asked questions about the role and responsibilities of chemists

A typical day as a chemist includes researching how atoms and molecules interact to achieve a deeper understanding of various types of matter. Chemists use this knowledge to create new materials or processes for various industries, or to improve existing processes and materials.

Yes, chemistry is an excellent career which offers the opportunity to work in many industries, including pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, petrochemicals, and nuclear chemistry. Working as a chemist means spending considerable amounts of time doing research in a lab, but some professionals also publish their findings.

There are some difficult aspects of being a chemist. For example, during large research projects, chemists may need to stay in the lab for overtime. When considering becoming a chemist, keep in mind that these professionals need to have good attention to detail, follow lab safety procedures, and rigorously document their processes and findings.

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Chemist jobs