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What Does An Analytical Chemist Do?

An Analytical Chemist uses a wide range of methods to investigate the chemical nature of substances. They analyze samples using different software, techniques, and equipment, and then interpret and report the results.

Here are examples of responsibilities from real analytical chemist resumes representing typical tasks they are likely to perform in their roles.

  • Perform benchmarking of HPLC/MS and UPLC/MS instruments (leads to better reliability and more efficient use of capital).
  • Verify raw material compliance utilizing ICP, FTIR, and USP wet chemistry methods.
  • Validate HPLC and UV/VIS test methods for product release testing.
  • Apply ICP-MS, ICP-OES, and AA to analyses of aqueous and acidic extracts of many geological materials.
  • Analyze contract samples by GC/MS, AA, ICP and wet chemistry, using EPA, GLP and other regulatory practices.
  • Characterize major degradation products and process-relate impurities of raw materials using both HPLC /UPLC.
  • Develop and establish new testing procedures, review existing test procedures periodically to improve efficiency of QC operation.
  • Develop test methods, procedures and protocols for the analysis and evaluation of algal inter-cellular compounds of interest by instrumental methods.
  • Analyze generic pharmaceutical preparations utilizing HPLC and dissolution apparatus to ensure content and uniformity in accordance with FDA and USP monographs.
  • Limit experience with ICP, GC-MS and LC-MS.
Analytical Chemist Traits
Analytical skills have to do with gathering information from various sources and then interpreting the data in order to reach a logical conclusion that benefits the business.
Math skills include being able to perform basic addition and subtraction, as well as solving for the unknown and visualizing data that will be helpful in the workplace.
Organizational skills are essential to working as efficiently as possible through being able to focus on projects at hand while also keeping a clean workspace.

Analytical Chemist Overview

When it comes to understanding what an analytical chemist does, you may be wondering, "should I become an analytical chemist?" The data included in this section may help you decide. Compared to other jobs, analytical chemists have a growth rate described as "as fast as average" at 4% between the years 2018 - 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the number of analytical chemist opportunities that are predicted to open up by 2028 is 3,500.

An analytical chemist annual salary averages $59,356, which breaks down to $28.54 an hour. However, analytical chemists can earn anywhere from upwards of $45,000 to $77,000 a year. This means that the top-earning analytical chemists make $34,000 more than the lowest-earning ones.

As is the case with most jobs, it takes work to become an analytical chemist. Sometimes people change their minds about their career after working in the profession. That's why we looked into some other professions that might help you find your next opportunity. These professions include a senior scientist, postdoctoral scholar, associate scientist, and quality control associate.

Analytical Chemist Skills and Personality Traits

We calculated that 11% of Analytical Chemists are proficient in Analytical Methods, Procedures, and Hplc. They’re also known for soft skills such as Analytical skills, Math skills, and Organizational skills.

We break down the percentage of Analytical Chemists that have these skills listed on their resume here:

  • Analytical Methods, 11%

    Assisted in other tasks and laboratory work as assigned Accomplishments Developed analytical methods for all compounding products including innovative formulations.

  • Procedures, 9%

    Developed test methods, procedures and protocols for the analysis and evaluation of algal inter-cellular compounds of interest by instrumental methods.

  • Hplc, 7%

    Analyzed generic pharmaceutical preparations utilizing HPLC and dissolution apparatus to ensure content and uniformity in accordance with FDA and USP monographs.

  • Laboratory Equipment, 7%

    Maintain laboratory equipment and instrumentation in good working order, following appropriate procedures for usage, clean-up and maintenance.

  • Raw Materials, 4%

    Review laboratory notebooks and release raw materials, in-process materials and finished products upon completion of detailed and accurate review.

  • GMP, 4%

    Performed routine stability analyses for solid oral dosage formulations in a GMP environment.

"analytical methods," "procedures," and "hplc" aren't the only skills we found analytical chemists list on their resumes. In fact, there's a whole list of analytical chemist responsibilities that we found, including:

  • Analytical skills can be considered to be the most important personality trait for an analytical chemist to have. According to a analytical chemist resume, "chemists and materials scientists carry out scientific experiments and studies" analytical chemists are able to use analytical skills in the following example we gathered from a resume: "provide daily water quality compliance, monitoring and environmental health by utilizing chemistry or analytical chemical instruments. "
  • Another trait important for fulfilling analytical chemist duties is math skills. According to a analytical chemist resume, "chemists and materials scientists regularly use complex mathematical equations and formulas, and they need a broad understanding of math, including calculus, algebra, and statistics." Here's an example of how analytical chemists are able to utilize math skills: "performed quantitative and qualitative analysis of raw materials, finished pharmaceuticals and processed bulk products and provided training to new employees. "
  • Analytical chemists are also known for organizational skills, which can be critical when it comes to performing their duties. An example of why this skill is important is shown by this snippet that we found in a analytical chemist resume: "chemists and materials scientists need to document processes carefully in order to conform to regulations and industry procedures" We also found this resume example that details how this skill is put to the test: "improved sample progress visibility and tracking for creation of metrics to yield process improvements through organizational management of laboratory procedures. "
  • In order for certain analytical chemist responsibilities to be completed, the job requires the skill "problem-solving skills." According to an analytical chemist resume, "chemists and materials scientists research and develop new and improved chemical products, processes, and materials" As an example, this snippet was taken directly from a resume about how this skill applies: "perform testing of finished product and raw materials using methods such as dissolution, hplc, uv and wet chemistry. "
  • As part of the analytical chemist description, you might find that one of the skills that might be helpful to the job is "time-management skills." A analytical chemist resume included this snippet: "chemists and materials scientists usually need to meet deadlines when conducting research" This skill could be useful in this scenario: "submit completed data packets to product chemistry according to deadlines indicated in t&p; work slate. "
  • While "communication skills" is listed last on this skills list, don't underestimate its importance to analytical chemist responsibilities. The skill is described by this resume snippet, "chemists and materials scientists need to communicate clearly with team members and other scientists" Here is an example of how this skill is used, "involved in constant communication with the clients and was responsible for supervising and managing chemistry interns. "
  • See the full list of analytical chemist skills.

    After discovering the most helpful skills, we moved onto what kind of education might be helpful in becoming an analytical chemist. We found that 56.4% of analytical chemists have graduated with a bachelor's degree and 29.4% of people in this position have earned their master's degrees. While most analytical chemists have a college degree, you may find it's also true that generally it's impossible to be successful in this career with only a high school degree. In fact, our research shows that one out of every nine analytical chemists were not college graduates.

    Those analytical chemists who do attend college, typically earn either a chemistry degree or a biology degree. Less commonly earned degrees for analytical chemists include a biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology degree or a pharmacy degree.

    When you're ready to become an analytical chemist, you might wonder which companies hire analytical chemists. According to our research through analytical chemist resumes, analytical chemists are mostly hired by Kelly Services, Eurofins Scientific, and Aerotek. Now is a good time to apply as Kelly Services has 24 analytical chemists job openings, and there are 16 at Eurofins Scientific and 13 at Aerotek.

    Since salary is important to some analytical chemists, it's good to note that they are figured to earn the highest salaries at Flint Hills Resources LP, Monsanto, and Battelle. If you were to take a closer look at Flint Hills Resources LP, you'd find that the average analytical chemist salary is $102,197. Then at Monsanto, analytical chemists receive an average salary of $87,777, while the salary at Battelle is $87,332.

    View more details on analytical chemist salaries across the United States.

    We also looked into companies who hire analytical chemists from the top 100 educational institutions in the U.S. The top three companies that hire the most from these institutions include PPG Industries, Eli Lilly and Company, and The Dow Chemical Company.

    The three companies that hire the most prestigious analytical chemists are:

      What Senior Scientists Do

      A senior scientist is usually in charge of overseeing experiments and evaluating junior scientists' performance, especially in laboratory settings. Moreover, it is also their responsibility to assess every progress report to ensure it's accuracy and validity. As a senior scientist in the field, it is essential to lead and encourage fellow scientists in their joint pursuit for scientific innovations, all while adhering to the laboratory's standards and policies.

      In this section, we compare the average analytical chemist annual salary with that of a senior scientist. Typically, senior scientists earn a $38,368 higher salary than analytical chemists earn annually.

      While their salaries may differ, one common ground between analytical chemists and senior scientists are a few of the skills required in each craft. In both careers, employees bring forth skills like analytical methods, procedures, and hplc.

      There are some key differences in responsibilities as well. For example, an analytical chemist responsibilities require skills like "laboratory equipment," "sample preparation," "uv/vis," and "analytical techniques." Meanwhile a typical senior scientist has skills in areas such as "phd," "protein," "drug discovery," and "molecular biology." This difference in skills reveals how truly different these two careers really are.

      Senior scientists receive the highest salaries in the telecommunication industry coming in with an average yearly salary of $122,641. But analytical chemists are paid more in the manufacturing industry with an average salary of $79,584.

      Senior scientists tend to reach lower levels of education than analytical chemists. In fact, senior scientists are 7.3% less likely to graduate with a Master's Degree and 53.0% more likely to have a Doctoral Degree.

      What Are The Duties Of a Postdoctoral Scholar?

      A Postdoctoral Scholar is responsible for supporting an educational research group to conduct studies and gather relevant data to support study claims and scientific evidence. They review initial findings, perform field investigations, and interview the target respondents for data and statistical analysis. They also coordinate with the whole team for efficient research methods, ensuring adherence to budget limitations and required timetables. A Postdoctoral Scholar must have excellent communication skills, both oral and written, to document reports and discuss results with the research team.

      The next role we're going to look at is the postdoctoral scholar profession. Typically, this position earns a lower pay. In fact, they earn a $8,596 lower salary than analytical chemists per year.

      Not everything about these jobs is different. Take their skills, for example. Analytical chemists and postdoctoral scholars both include similar skills like "hplc," "r," and "data analysis" on their resumes.

      In addition to the difference in salary, there are some other key differences that are worth noting. For example, analytical chemist responsibilities are more likely to require skills like "analytical methods," "procedures," "laboratory equipment," and "raw materials." Meanwhile, a postdoctoral scholar might be skilled in areas such as "phd," "communication," "python," and "doctoral." These differences highlight just how different the day-to-day in each role looks.

      It's been discovered that postdoctoral scholars earn lower salaries compared to analytical chemists, but we wanted to find out where postdoctoral scholars earned the most pay. The answer? The education industry. The average salary in the industry is $51,327. Additionally, analytical chemists earn the highest paychecks in the manufacturing with an average salary of $79,584.

      In general, postdoctoral scholars study at lower levels of education than analytical chemists. They're 10.3% less likely to obtain a Master's Degree while being 53.0% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      What technology do you think will become more important and prevalent in the field in the next 3-5 years?

      Peter Rosado

      Associate Professor of Chemistry, Georgia College and State University

      Right now, with COVID-19, I feel that the field of medicinal chemistry/biotechnology is going to see a boom. Materials science is also on the rise with alternative energies and new restorative therapies. The area of chemistry is not a more extended purist and more integrated/interdisciplinary. No longer can you call yourself an "inorganic chemist" or an "analytical chemist"? Graduates should be aware that flexibility and eagerness to learn new things is critical here. These are the skills obtained from a college degree, which is not the only subject matter. But the ability to think through and solve problems, be flexible, adaptable, etc.Show more

      What technology do you think will become more important and prevalent in the field in the next 3-5 years?

      Dr. Betsy Smith

      Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Elmira College

      Honestly, I think anytime a scientist tries to predict what will be "big" in a few years, they're likely to fail. That said, I think there's a growing interest among consumers for more "green" products, so research into those areas will likely grow. For instance, we might see attempts to develop new plastics that are safer for the environment and humans, perhaps biodegradable. Organic chemistry traditionally uses harsh solvents and chemicals that are difficult to dispose of safely, so there is an effort to find alternatives to these. Analytical chemistry techniques for separating and identifying compounds, like GC-MS (gas chromatography-mass spectrometry), will likely continue to be necessary. CRISPR, the relatively new gene-editing technology, is likely to become even more widely used on the biochemistry side of things.Show more

      How an Associate Scientist Compares

      An Associate Scientist assists in various experiments and research, working under the direction of a lead scientist. Their specialties may include biological life sciences, geo-science, atmospheric physics, and computing.

      The associate scientist profession generally makes a higher amount of money when compared to the average salary of analytical chemists. The difference in salaries is associate scientists making $8,702 higher than analytical chemists.

      Using analytical chemists and associate scientists resumes, we found that both professions have similar skills such as "analytical methods," "procedures," and "hplc," but the other skills required are very different.

      As mentioned, these two careers differ between other skills that are required for performing the work exceedingly well. For example, gathering from analytical chemists resumes, they are more likely to have skills like "analytical techniques," "lc/ms," "analytical data," and "icp-ms." But a associate scientist might have skills like "cell culture," "protein," "elisa," and "flow cytometry."

      Additionally, associate scientists earn a higher salary in the health care industry compared to other industries. In this industry, they receive an average salary of $75,561. Additionally, analytical chemists earn an average salary of $79,584 in the manufacturing industry.

      Associate scientists typically study at higher levels compared with analytical chemists. For example, they're 7.9% more likely to graduate with a Master's Degree, and 4.6% more likely to earn a Doctoral Degree.

      Description Of a Quality Control Associate

      In a manufacturing setting, a quality control associate is in charge of conducting various tests to ensure that the products meet the company's standard criteria. Their responsibilities revolve around inspecting the workforce and workload involved in the production process, identifying errors or inconsistencies, recommending solutions and alterations, and maintaining records and documentation. Furthermore, as a quality control associate, it is essential to coordinate with department staff and produce progress reports, all while adhering to the company's policies and regulations.

      Quality control associates tend to earn a lower pay than analytical chemists by about $10,647 per year.

      While both analytical chemists and quality control associates complete day-to-day tasks using similar skills like analytical methods, procedures, and hplc, the two careers also vary in other skills.

      Even though a few skill sets overlap, there are some differences that are important to note. For one, an analytical chemist might have more use for skills like "ms," "sample preparation," "analytical techniques," and "lc/ms." Meanwhile, some quality control associates might include skills like "qc," "product quality," "data entry," and "ensure compliance" on their resume.

      In general, quality control associates reach lower levels of education when compared to analytical chemists resumes. Quality control associates are 10.1% less likely to earn their Master's Degree and 6.0% less likely to graduate with a Doctoral Degree.