Chemical Analyst

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Chemical Analyst


Everything in this world is made up of natural and synthetic chemicals. It would be impossible to imagine a world without gasoline, paper, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, plastics, synthetic fibers, paint, film or any other chemical products we use and demand in our daily lives. Whether it is bettering already existing products or creating new ones, we generally take these inventions of chemical engineering for granted. Not surprisingly, studies conducted by chemical analysts have an overwhelming impact on all of our lives.

Analytical chemistry is the science of obtaining, processing, and communicating information about the composition and structure of matter. In other words, it is the art and science of determining what matter is and how much of it exists. Chemical analysts perform qualitative and quantitative analysis, and define, isolate, concentrate and preserve samples. They validate and verify results of research through calibration and standardization and create new ways to interpret data.

Chemical analysts help carry out chemical research and solve technical problems, using principles of science, engineering and mathematics. They build or set up equipment, prepare and conduct experiments, collect data, calculate or record the results and often make conclusions about experiment results. They work with engineers or scientists in other ways, such as making prototype versions of newly designed equipment.

Their typical days can vary incredibly because some analysts work in the research sector, while others are found in the quality control area. For example, they might test product packaging for design, integrity of materials, and safety and environmental acceptability; or collect and analyze samples of water to monitor pollution levels. Some may focus on biochemistry and help scientists and physicians diagnose disease. Chemical analysts are constantly putting their creativity to work, transforming combinations of elements of matter and developing the processes to do it all safely and efficiently.

Chemical analysts keep detailed logs of all their work-related activities. During experiments, chemical analysts often work with dangerous materials and supervise factory workers exposed to dangerous chemicals. Therefore, they must implement safety standards among workers (and themselves) and ensure that proper equipment and clothing is worn.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Good laboratory and mechanical skills and the patience to perform sometimes tedious procedures are necessary for precise and accurate measurements. Chemical analysts require good communication skills and the ability to learn about and keep up with new techniques and instrumentation and technology are essential for troubleshooting and problem solving.

Chemical analysts are analytical, creative and innovative thinkers. They have a natural affinity and aptitude for mathematics and science and can often visualize complex processes and design on computers. They have the ability to work well in teams with people from various disciplines and backgrounds.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Set up and conduct chemical experiments, tests and analyses
  • Operate and maintain laboratory equipment and apparatus and prepare solution and sample formulations
  • Compile records for analytical studies
  • Develop and conduct programs of sampling and analysis to maintain quality standards
  • Test products, record results and write reports
  • Carry out other technical functions in support of chemical research, tests and analyses
  • May assist in the designing and fabrication of experimental apparatus
  • Chemical analysts usually work regular hours in offices and research laboratories. A majority of their time is spent in the research stage, on the computer, preparing layouts, statistical studies and analyses. Some work in teams with engineers and technologists. Some analysts may travel to attend conferences to upgrade their knowledge and skills.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Chemical analysts' workplaces are as varied as their job responsibilities and the sophistication of the laboratories they work in. Chemical analysts work in every part of the chemical, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical, food and water management industries. They are also found in private consulting firms, government, in research and academic institutions and in sales and marketing departments for manufacturers of scientific instrumentation.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Experienced chemical analysts may gain higher levels of responsibility and begin performing more advanced experiments and analytical studies. They can also advance to become chemical technologists, quality control technicians, senior technical supervisors or staff supervisory positions. Some chemical analysts that take additional training can teach in technical institutes. Others may work as technical writers or as salespersons for chemical engineering products.

  Educational Paths  
A solid background in chemistry and good laboratory, computer and communication skills is important for handling a wide variety of chemical measurements. Because analytical chemistry is a service discipline, combining the skills of a chemical analyst with knowledge of the unique problems of other chemical disciplines is a valuable asset. In addition, customer service, business, and management skills are more important today than ever before. Internships and co-op work experience are also good ways to gain practical work experience and to explore opportunities in the field.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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