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Become A Process Chemist

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Working As A Process Chemist

  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Processing Information
  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • $79,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Process Chemist Do

Chemists and materials scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and the ways in which the substances interact with one another. They use their knowledge to develop new and improved products and to test the quality of manufactured goods.

Duties

Chemists and materials scientists typically do the following:

  • Plan and carry out complex research projects, such as the development of new products and testing methods
  • Direct technicians and other workers in testing and analyzing components and the physical properties of materials
  • Instruct scientists and technicians on proper chemical processing and testing procedures, including ingredients, mixing times, and operating temperatures
  • Prepare solutions, compounds, and reagents used in laboratory procedures
  • Analyze substances to determine their composition and concentration of elements 
  • Conduct tests on materials and other substances to ensure that safety and quality standards are met
  • Write technical reports that detail methods and findings
  • Present research findings to scientists, engineers, and other colleagues

Some chemists and materials scientists work in basic research. Others work in applied research. In basic research, chemists investigate the properties, composition, and structure of matter. They also experiment with combinations of elements and the ways in which they interact. In applied research, chemists investigate possible new products and ways to improve existing ones. Chemistry research has led to the discovery and development of new and improved drugs, plastics, and cleaners, as well as thousands of other products.

Materials scientists study the structures and chemical properties of various materials in order to develop new products or enhance existing ones. They determine ways to strengthen or combine materials, or develop new materials, for use in a variety of products. Applications of materials science include inventing or improving ceramics, metallic alloys, and superconducting materials.

Chemists and materials scientists use computers and a wide variety of sophisticated laboratory instrumentation for modeling, simulation, and experimental analysis. For example, some chemists use three-dimensional computer modeling software to study the structure and properties of complex molecules. 

Most chemists and materials scientists work as part of a team. The number of scientific research projects that involve multiple disciplines is increasing, and it is common for chemists and materials scientists to work on teams with other scientists, such as biologists, physicists, computer specialists, and engineers. For example, in pharmaceutical research, chemists may work with biologists to develop new drugs and with engineers to design ways to mass-produce the new drugs. For more information, see the profiles on biochemists and biophysicists, microbiologists, zoologists and wildlife biologists, physicists and astronomers, computer and information technology occupations, and engineering occupations.

Chemists often specialize in a particular branch of the field. The following are examples of types of chemists:

Analytical chemists determine the structure, composition, and nature of substances by examining and identifying their various elements or compounds. They also study the relationships and interactions among the parts of compounds. Some analytical chemists specialize in developing new methods of analysis and new techniques for carrying out their work. Their research has a wide range of applications, including food safety, pharmaceuticals, and pollution control.

Inorganic chemists study the structure, properties, and reactions of molecules that do not contain carbon, such as metals. They work to understand the behavior and the characteristics of inorganic substances. Inorganic chemists figure out how these materials, such as ceramics and superconductors, can be modified, separated, or used in products.  

Medicinal chemists research and develop chemical compounds that can be used as pharmaceutical drugs. They work on teams with other scientists and engineers to create and test new drug products. They also help develop new and improved manufacturing processes to produce new drugs on a large scale effectively.

Organic chemists study the structure, properties, and reactions of molecules that contain carbon. They also design and make new organic substances that have unique properties and applications. These compounds in turn, have been used to develop many commercial products, such as pharmaceutical drugs and plastics.

Physical chemists study the fundamental characteristics of how matter behaves on a molecular and atomic level and how chemical reactions occur. On the basis of their analyses, physical chemists may develop new theories, such as how complex structures are formed. Physical chemists often work closely with materials scientists, to research and develop potential uses for new materials.

Theoretical chemists investigate theoretical methods that can predict the outcomes of chemical experiments. Theoretical chemistry encompasses a variety of specializations itself, although most specializations incorporate advanced computation and programming. Some examples of theoretical chemists are computational chemists, mathematical chemists, and chemical informaticians.

Materials scientists tend to specialize by the material they work with most often. A few examples of materials in which these scientists specialize are ceramics, glasses, metals, nanomaterials (extremely small substances), polymers, and semiconductors.

A growing numbers of chemists work in interdisciplinary fields, such as biochemistry and geochemistry. For more information, see the profiles on biochemists and biophysicists and geoscientists.

Many people with a chemistry background become professors or teachers. For more information, see the profiles on high school teachers and postsecondary teachers.

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How To Become A Process Chemist

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.

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Process Chemist Career Paths

Process Chemist
Chemist Laboratory Manager Quality Assurance Manager
Quality Systems Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Chemist Supervisor Plant Manager
Manufacturing Director
14 Yearsyrs
Chemist Project Manager Quality Manager
Senior Quality Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Technician Production Supervisor Quality Manager
Corporate Quality Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Technician Scientist Senior Scientist
Research And Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Technician Production Supervisor Quality Control Manager
Quality Control Director
9 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Chemist Scientist Senior Scientist
Research And Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Chemist Quality Assurance Specialist Quality Engineer
Assistant Manager Of Quality
6 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Chemist Senior Scientist Research And Development Manager
Senior Manager Of Research And Development
12 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Quality Assurance Manager Regulatory Affairs Manager
Regulatory Affairs Director
12 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Quality Engineer Laboratory Manager
Laboratory Manager Of Operations
10 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Research And Development Engineer
Research And Development Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Chemist Quality Control Manager Processing Manager
Process Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Chemist Quality Control Manager Compliance Manager
Regulatory Compliance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Scientist Quality Assurance Specialist Senior Quality Engineer
Vice-President Of Quality
15 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Chemist Quality Assurance Manager Regulatory Affairs Manager
Regulatory Compliance Director
12 Yearsyrs
Analytical Chemist Quality Engineer Product Quality Engineer
Product Quality Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Research Chemist Postdoctoral Research Associate Research And Development Senior Engineer
Research And Development Project Leader
6 Yearsyrs
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Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Staff Chemist 4.5 years
Research Chemist 3.9 years
Chemist 3.5 years
Analytical Chemist 3.2 years
Associate Chemist 3.0 years
Process Chemist 3.0 years
Food Chemist 2.9 years
Production Chemist 2.9 years
Laboratory Chemist 2.8 years
Chemist Assistant 2.5 years
Junior Chemist 2.2 years
Contract Chemist 1.4 years
Top Careers Before Process Chemist
Chemist 15.6%
Internship 4.4%
Scientist 2.7%
Top Careers After Process Chemist
Chemist 14.4%
Scientist 6.6%
Manager 4.1%
Consultant 3.1%

Do you work as a Process Chemist?

Average Yearly Salary
$79,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$54,000
Min 10%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$79,000
Median 50%
$116,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Novartis
Highest Paying City
Nashua, NH
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
3.4 years
How much does a Process Chemist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Process Chemist in the United States is $79,260 per year or $38 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $54,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $116,000.

Real Process Chemist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Process Chemist Applied Materials, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Aug 17, 2016 $111,750
Technology Process Chemist Ascend Performance Materials, LLC Alvin, TX Nov 20, 2015 $101,005
Technology Process Chemist Ascend Performance Materials, LLC Alvin, TX Nov 20, 2014 $98,000
Process Chemist Dow Agrosciences, LLC Indianapolis, IN May 31, 2016 $97,272 -
$145,896
Process Chemist-Biomass Conversions Renmatix, Inc. King of Prussia, PA Oct 01, 2015 $95,717
Process Chemist Sabic Innovative Plastics Us LLC NY Nov 22, 2013 $92,700
Material and Process Chemist The Boeing Company Huntsville, AL Dec 09, 2016 $92,456 -
$150,000
Process Chemist Sabic Innovative Plastics Vernon, IN Sep 05, 2011 $90,500
Process Chemist Sabic Innovative Plastics Us LLC NY Aug 18, 2014 $90,000
Process Chemist-Biomass Conversions Renmatix, Inc. King of Prussia, PA Oct 01, 2012 $90,000
Process Chemist Sabic Innovative Plastics Us LLC NY Oct 01, 2013 $90,000
Process Chemist Dow Agrosciences, LLC Indianapolis, IN Aug 20, 2015 $88,157 -
$132,235
Process Chemist Sabic Innovative Plastics Us LLC Vernon, IN Sep 14, 2010 $86,000
Process Chemist Dow Agrosciences, LLC Indianapolis, IN Feb 01, 2015 $85,764 -
$128,652
Process Chemist Reagens USA, Inc. Pasadena, TX Jan 10, 2016 $85,000
Process Chemist Sabic Innovative Plastics Washington, WV Sep 04, 2011 $84,300
Process Chemist Sabic Innovative Plastics Us LLC Vernon, IN Oct 01, 2013 $84,000
Process Chemist Sabic Innovative Plastics Vernon, IN Dec 13, 2010 $84,000
Process Chemist Sabic Innovative Plastics NY Nov 22, 2010 $84,000
Process Chemist Sabic Innovative Plastics Vernon, IN Oct 01, 2010 $84,000
Process DEV. Chemist-Amino Acids & Biochemicals Research Organics, Inc. Cleveland, OH Sep 21, 2009 $82,500
Senior Process Chemist Rhodes Technologies Coventry, RI Oct 01, 2009 $78,000
Process Chemist Behr Process Corporation Roanoke, TX Jan 11, 2016 $68,000
Process Chemist Heliae Development, LLC Gilbert, AZ Sep 01, 2014 $66,000
Process Chemist Reagens USA, Inc. Pasadena, TX Oct 01, 2013 $64,500
Process Chemist GDB International, Inc. Nashville, IL Sep 09, 2016 $64,200
Process Chemist Reagens USA Inc. Pasadena, TX Jan 20, 2011 $62,000
Process Chemist Behr Process Corporation Chicago Heights, IL Oct 01, 2012 $60,000
Process Chemist The Sherwin-Williams Company Cleveland, OH Sep 19, 2011 $58,961

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Top Skills for A Process Chemist

  1. Lab Equipment
  2. Analytical Methods
  3. Raw Materials
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Manage calibration and preventative maintenance of lab equipment.
  • Reviewed and implemented analytical methods compliant to ASTM standards.
  • Research and development of patented brazing alloys Development of quality control protocols for raw materials TQM/SOP protocol documentation
  • Performed quantitative, qualitative, and wet chemistry analysis.
  • Design and optimize synthesis and purification routes for new product development.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Process Chemists

  1. Delaware
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Maryland
  4. New Mexico
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Virginia
  7. New Jersey
  8. Minnesota
  9. District of Columbia
  10. Connecticut
  • (11 jobs)
  • (147 jobs)
  • (66 jobs)
  • (22 jobs)
  • (17 jobs)
  • (121 jobs)
  • (114 jobs)
  • (74 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (41 jobs)

Process Chemist Demographics

Gender

Male

65.2%

Female

22.3%

Unknown

12.4%
Ethnicity

White

57.2%

Asian

18.1%

Hispanic or Latino

10.9%

Black or African American

9.9%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Chinese

26.7%

Spanish

26.7%

French

13.3%

Mandarin

13.3%

Urdu

6.7%

Bengali

6.7%

Hmong

6.7%
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Process Chemist Education

Schools

Temple University

10.5%

University of Rhode Island

7.0%

Drexel University

5.8%

Marquette University

5.8%

Texas A&M University

5.8%

Eastern Michigan University

4.7%

North Carolina State University

4.7%

University of South Carolina - Columbia

4.7%

University of Wisconsin - Madison

4.7%

Virginia Commonwealth University

4.7%

University of California - San Diego

4.7%

Wayne State University

4.7%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

4.7%

Northeastern University

4.7%

Purdue University

4.7%

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

4.7%

Louisiana State University and A&M College

3.5%

University of Texas at Arlington

3.5%

University of Idaho

3.5%

Arizona State University

3.5%
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Majors

Chemistry

58.2%

Biology

8.7%

Chemical Engineering

8.4%

Business

5.5%

Pharmacy

2.4%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

2.4%

Plastics Engineering

1.7%

Environmental Science

1.2%

Materials Sciences

1.2%

Biotechnology

1.2%

Physics

1.2%

Project Management

1.2%

Marketing

1.2%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.0%

Education

1.0%

Management

0.7%

Community Organization And Advocacy

0.7%

Philosophy

0.7%

Finance

0.7%

Pharmacology

0.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

46.7%

Masters

26.8%

Doctorate

14.8%

Other

7.8%

Associate

2.7%

Certificate

1.1%
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