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Chemical Technician


Description

Everything in this world is made up of 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. Yet the work accomplished by chemical technicians has an overwhelming impact on all of our lives.

Assisting the work of chemists and chemical engineers, chemical technicians help develop processes, design and improve already-designed equipment, and provide technical and management services for plants and manufacturing companies that convert raw materials into a wide range of end products, like pharmaceuticals, food and fuels. They perform technical tasks that help improve methods, products and equipment.

Chemical technicians may also be in charge of maintaining equipment in a laboratory. It is up to them to decide if new equipment is needed, or if it would be possible to fix old equipment. Chemical technicians 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.

Chemical technicians are constantly putting their creativity to work, transforming combinations of elements of matter and developing the processes to do it all safely and efficiently. They help package many of the foods we eat, help power our cars, heat our homes and develop new materials from garbage. Did you know that burning garbage creates energy, which can be transformed into matter? They always work under the guidance of chemical engineers or chemists, assisting them to create chemical products and processes in their particular industry.

With experience, chemical technicians may create rough engineering plans on computers using computer-aided design (CAD) systems, which simulate realistic three-dimensional models and test and predict possible errors and problems with a mechanism, generating workable solutions. Although a great deal of work takes place on computers or in laboratories, chemical technicians often travel to factories to supervise workers and assess the technical productivity of a factory.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
n/a
 
Median Salary:
$37,440
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
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  Interests and Skills  
Chemical technicians are analytical, creative and innovative thinkers with excellent problem solving skills. They have a natural affinity and aptitude for mathematics and science and can often visualize complex processes and design on computers. They possess excellent communication skills, both written and oral, and have the ability to work well in teams with people from various disciplines and backgrounds. They also possess the ability to pay close attention to details.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Assist in setting up and conducting chemical experiments, tests and analyses
  • Operate and maintain laboratory equipment and apparatus and prepare solutions, reagents and sample formulations
  • Compile records for analytical studies
  • Assist in developing and conducting programs of sampling and analysis to maintain quality standards
  • Ensure that operations meet strict building and safety standards
  • Test the quality of products and record results and write reports
  • Carry out a limited range of other technical functions in support of chemical research, tests and analyses
  • Assist in the design and fabrication of experimental apparatus
  • Chemical technicians usually work regular hours in offices, research labs and on production floors. A majority of their time is spent on the computer, preparing layouts, statistical studies and analyses. Some work in teams with engineers and technologists. Some technicians may travel to plants and construction sites or attend conferences to upgrade their knowledge and skills.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Chemical technicians are employed by research and development and quality control laboratories, consulting engineering companies, in chemical, petrochemical, pharmaceutical and a variety of other manufacturing and processing industries, and by utilities, health, education and government establishments.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Experienced chemical technicians may advance to become technologists, senior technical supervisors or staff supervisory positions. Some chemical technicians that take additional training can teach in technical institutes. Others may work as technical writers or as salespersons for chemical engineering products. With further education, they can become chemical engineering technologists and teach at the postsecondary level.
 

  Educational Paths  
Chemical technicians usually require completion of a one- or two-year college program in chemical, biochemical or chemical engineering technology. Certification in chemical engineering technology or in a related field is available through associations of engineering technicians and may be required by some employers. Usually, a two-year period of supervised work experience is required before certification as a chemical technician.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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Concordia University - Portland

Concordia University - Portland offers several fully online 14-month Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs and a fully online Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) program.

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