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Chemists and materials scientists need at least a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a related field. However, a master’s degree or Ph.D. is required for many research jobs.Education
A bachelor’s degree in chemistry or in a related field is needed for entry-level chemist or materials scientist jobs. Although some materials scientists hold a degree in materials science, most have a degree in chemistry, physics, or engineering. Many jobs require a master’s degree or a Ph.D. and also may require significant levels of work experience. Chemists and materials scientists with a Ph.D. and postdoctoral experience typically lead basic- or applied-research teams.
Many colleges and universities offer degree programs in chemistry that are approved by the American Chemical Society. There are few programs specifically in materials science, but the number of programs is gradually increasing. Some colleges offer materials science as a specialization within their chemistry programs, and some engineering schools offer degrees in the joint field of materials science and engineering. High school students can prepare for college coursework by taking chemistry, math, and computer science classes.
Undergraduate chemistry majors typically are required to take courses in analytical, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry. In addition to chemistry coursework, they take classes in mathematics, biological sciences, and physics. Computer science courses are essential, because chemists and materials scientists need computer skills to perform modeling and simulation tasks, manage and manipulate databases, and operate computerized laboratory equipment.
Laboratory experience, either at a college or university, or through internships, fellowships, or work–study programs in industry, is also useful.
Graduate students studying chemistry commonly specialize in a subfield, such as analytical chemistry or inorganic chemistry. For example, those interested in doing research in the pharmaceutical industry usually develop a strong background in medicinal or organic chemistry.Important Qualities
Analytical skills. Chemists and materials scientists carry out scientific experiments and studies. They must be precise and accurate in their analyses, because errors could invalidate their research.
Communication skills. Chemists and materials scientists need to communicate with team members and other scientists. They must be able to read and write technical reports and give presentations.
Critical-thinking skills. Chemists and materials scientists carefully evaluate their own work and the work of others. They must determine if results and conclusions are based on sound science.
Interpersonal skills. Chemists and materials scientists typically work on interdisciplinary research teams and need to work well with others toward a common goal. Many serve as team leaders and must be able to motivate and direct other team members.
Math skills. Chemists and materials scientists regularly use complex mathematical equations and formulas, and they need a broad understanding of mathematics, including calculus, algebra, and statistics.
Organizational skills. Chemists and materials scientists need to document processes carefully in order to conform to regulations and industry procedures. Disorganization in the workplace can lead to legal problems, damage to equipment, and chemical spills.
Perseverance. Scientific research involves substantial trial and error, and chemists and materials scientists must not become discouraged in their work.
Problem-solving skills. Chemists and materials scientists research and develop new and improved chemical products, processes, and materials. This work requires a great deal of trial and error on the part of chemists and materials scientists before a unique solution is found.
Time-management skills. Chemists and materials scientists usually need to meet deadlines when conducting research. They must be able to manage time and prioritize tasks efficiently while maintaining their quality of work.Advancement
Chemists typically receive greater responsibility and independence in their work as they gain experience. Greater responsibility also is gained through further education. Ph.D. chemists usually lead research teams and have control over the direction and content of projects, but even Ph.D. holders have room to advance as they gain experience. As chemists become more proficient in managing research projects, they may take on larger, more complicated, and more expensive projects.
Some chemists and materials scientists become natural sciences managers.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Chemist
Top Careers After Chemist
Hispanic or Latino10.3%
Black or African American1.0%
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Pennsylvania State University7.2%
University of Phoenix7.1%
North Carolina State University5.9%
University of Florida5.9%
University of Utah5.2%
Michigan State University5.1%
University of California - Irvine4.9%
Fairleigh Dickinson University4.8%
Ohio State University4.8%
Virginia Commonwealth University4.5%
University of California - Davis4.5%
University of California - San Diego4.4%
University of North Carolina at Greensboro4.2%
University of Cincinnati4.2%
University of Pittsburgh -4.2%
Texas A&M University4.1%
University of Connecticut4.1%
University of Illinois at Chicago4.1%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Chemist||Tri-Tech Laboratories, Inc.||Lynchburg, VA||Sep 09, 2015||$150,000|
|Computational Chemist||Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Inc.||NJ||Nov 15, 2016||$141,840|
|Synthetic Chemist||Singular Genomics Systems, Inc.||New York, NY||Dec 23, 2016||$117,060|
|Chemist II-Manufacturing||Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc.||Cranbury, NJ||Oct 02, 2015||$113,300|
|Synthetic Chemist||Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc.||Pleasanton, CA||Feb 02, 2016||$113,000|
|Chemist||Perrigo Pharmaceuticals Company||Allegan, MI||Jan 07, 2015||$108,500|
|Chemist||Wes Pharma Inc.||Westminster, MD||Jun 17, 2016||$106,621|
|Chemist||Amspec, LLC||Concord, CA||Sep 21, 2016||$105,000|
|Chemist||Royal Holdings, Inc.||Michigan Center, MI||May 09, 2016||$105,000|
|Chemist II||Chemtex Environmental Laboratory Inc.||Port Arthur, TX||Dec 23, 2016||$104,500|
|Chemist||Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials LLC, A Subsidiary of The Dow Chemic||Marlborough, MA||Oct 23, 2016||$101,772 -
|Pharmaceutical Chemist||Novel Laboratories, Inc.||Somerset, NJ||Sep 24, 2016||$100,589 -
|Chemist||Snapdragon Chemistry, Inc.||Somerville, MA||Jun 20, 2015||$100,000|
|Chemist||Medisca Inc.||Gainesville, FL||Sep 01, 2015||$100,000|
|Chemist, II||Appco Pharma LLC||Somerset, NJ||Dec 15, 2015||$65,582|
|Pharmaceutical Chemist||Novel Laboratories, Inc.||Somerset, NJ||Aug 31, 2015||$65,582 -
|Chemist II||Aurolife Pharma LLC||Dayton, NJ||Jun 12, 2015||$65,582|
|Chemist II||Aurolife Pharma LLC||Dayton, NJ||Dec 17, 2015||$65,582|
|Chemist||Magnifica Inc.||Cranbury, NJ||Jan 29, 2016||$65,582|
|Chemist||Affinity Research Chemicals, Inc.||Wilmington, DE||Sep 15, 2016||$65,333|
|Chemist II||Norwich Pharmaceuticals, Inc.||Norwich, NY||Sep 24, 2015||$65,179|
|Chemist||West Virginia University Research Corporation||Morgantown, WV||Jan 07, 2016||$55,296|
|Chemist II||The Sherwin-Williams Company||Cleveland, OH||Aug 30, 2016||$55,283 -
|Compounding Chemist||Foptum, LLC||Houston, TX||Jan 15, 2016||$55,180|
|Chemist||EAG, Inc.||Maryland Heights, MO||Aug 26, 2015||$55,078 -
|Chemist||Guardian Drug Company||Dayton, NJ||Aug 31, 2016||$55,000|
|Chemist||Appco Pharma LLC||Somerset, NJ||Oct 09, 2016||$55,000|
|Chemist||Expert Chemical Analysis, Inc.||San Diego, CA||Jul 01, 2015||$55,000 -
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