Chemistry Job Descriptions

by Stephen Jeske

Individuals with an affinity for math, science and chemistry can parlay that interest into lucrative and fascinating careers. Though not all chemistry jobs are in high demand, most of them pay exceptionally well. Obtaining post-secondary education is an important step toward finding a good job in chemistry since those with advanced degrees typically earn the highest wages.

Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers use their knowledge of biology, chemistry and physics to help to produce products like chemicals, drugs, food and fuel. Most of their work takes place in an office or laboratory, with the occasional on-site visit to address production issues. Employers require applicants to have a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. Engineers in this high-paying profession earned a median annual wage of $92,930 in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statics. However, job prospects continue to be disappointing, with a 6 percent growth rate expected from 2010 to 2020. This compares with an average growth rate of 14 percent for all U.S. jobs.


The majority of chemists work in basic and applied research, investigating the properties of matter and creating new products based on the results of their research. Many specialize in a particular branch of their profession such as medicinal chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry. A bachelor's degree is required for entry into this field. Bureau of Labor Statics 2011 data reports that chemists earned a median annual wage of $69,760. Job growth between 2010 and 2020 will at a rate of just 4 percent.


Biochemists spend most of their time in laboratories studying the chemical principles of living organisms. Though entry positions are available to those possessing a bachelor's or master's degree, most biophysicists have a Ph.D. in biochemistry. Biochemists earned a median annual wage of $79,230 in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Though not the highest-paying career in chemistry, job prospects are good. The Bureau of Labor projects a 31 percent growth rate from 2010 to 2020.

Chemical Technicians

Chemical technicians assist chemists and chemical engineers in researching and developing new products and processes involving chemicals. Most of their work takes place in laboratories and factories, where they either conduct experiments or monitor production. Technicians are expected to have an associate's degree in a related field, although many gain employment through on-the-job training. The median annual wage for chemical technicians in 2011 was $42,070, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, the expected increase in jobs for chemical technicians is just 7 percent between 2010 and 2020.


Pharmacists dispense medication prescribed by physicians and other health professionals, and advise patients on their correct use. They primarily work in pharmacies located in drug stores, grocery stores and hospitals. A doctor of pharmacy degree and successful completion of state exams are required in order to become a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacists have the highest-paying position of all chemistry-related careers. The Bureau of Labor reports that pharmacists earned a median annual wage of $113,390 in 2011. Job prospects are favorable, with a projected growth rate of 25 percent from 2010 to 2020.

About the Author

Stephen Jeske began writing professionally in 2010 for various websites. He is a former partner in a 49-year-old family business and has been a private investor for over three decades. Jeske holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Specialized Honors Music from York University.

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