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Become A Research And Development Chemist

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Working As A Research And Development Chemist

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

  • $80,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Research And Development 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 Research And Development 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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Research And Development Chemist Career Paths

Research And Development Chemist
Senior Chemist Senior Scientist
Research And Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Chemist Senior Scientist Research And Development Manager
Research And Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Chemist Laboratory Manager Quality Assurance Manager
Quality Systems Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Scientist Consultant Production Manager
Manufacturing Director
14 Yearsyrs
Scientist Project Manager Quality Manager
Senior Quality Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Scientist Laboratory Manager Quality Control Manager
Quality Control Director
9 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Scientist Senior Scientist Research And Development Director
Vice President Of Research And Development
13 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Manager Quality Assurance Manager Regulatory Affairs Manager
Regulatory Affairs Director
12 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Process Engineer Quality Engineer
Assistant Manager Of Quality
6 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Laboratory Manager
Laboratory Manager Of Operations
10 Yearsyrs
Research Scientist Process Engineer Research And Development Engineer
Research And Development Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Manager Quality Manager Processing Manager
Process Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Manager Quality Assurance Manager Compliance Manager
Regulatory Compliance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Product Development Engineer
Lead Product Developer
7 Yearsyrs
Consultant Senior Engineer Senior Quality Engineer
Vice-President Of Quality
15 Yearsyrs
Senior Laboratory Technician Senior Technologist Senior Engineering Technician
Engineering Laboratory Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Formulation Chemist Quality Control Chemist Senior Research Associate
Study Director
7 Yearsyrs
Formulation Chemist Quality Control Chemist Research And Development Scientist
Research And Development Project Leader
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Research And Development Chemist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Chemist 5.0 years
Staff Chemist 4.5 years
Research Chemist 3.9 years
Chemist 3.5 years
Process Chemist 3.4 years
Analytical Chemist 3.2 years
Associate Chemist 3.0 years
Production Chemist 2.9 years
Junior Chemist 2.2 years
Contract Chemist 1.4 years
Top Careers Before Research And Development Chemist
Chemist 14.0%
Internship 4.5%
Scientist 2.1%
Researcher 2.0%
Top Careers After Research And Development Chemist
Chemist 13.6%
Scientist 6.9%
Consultant 3.7%

Do you work as a Research And Development Chemist?

Research And Development Chemist Demographics

Gender

Male

55.2%

Female

31.8%

Unknown

13.0%
Ethnicity

White

53.0%

Asian

19.2%

Hispanic or Latino

12.8%

Black or African American

9.9%

Unknown

5.1%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

38.4%

French

13.1%

German

12.1%

Chinese

8.1%

Croatian

3.0%

Italian

3.0%

Portuguese

3.0%

Japanese

3.0%

Vietnamese

2.0%

Hindi

2.0%

Russian

2.0%

Hebrew

2.0%

Sami

1.0%

Romanian

1.0%

Gujarati

1.0%

Mandarin

1.0%

Korean

1.0%

Hungarian

1.0%

Occidental

1.0%

Greek

1.0%
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Research And Development Chemist Education

Schools

Fairleigh Dickinson University

7.9%

University of Cincinnati

6.7%

University of California - Irvine

5.9%

Eastern Michigan University

5.9%

Wright State University

5.9%

University of Akron

5.5%

Montclair State University

5.1%

Temple University

4.7%

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

4.7%

University of Florida

4.7%

San Jose State University

4.7%

Case Western Reserve University

4.7%

Illinois Institute of Technology

4.3%

Ohio State University

4.3%

Texas A&M University

4.3%

Northeastern University

4.3%

California State Polytechnic University - Pomona

4.0%

Wayne State University

4.0%

University of Toledo

4.0%

University of California - Los Angeles

4.0%
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Majors

Chemistry

55.0%

Biology

8.4%

Chemical Engineering

7.7%

Business

5.1%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

5.0%

Pharmacy

4.9%

Plastics Engineering

1.9%

Materials Sciences

1.7%

Management

1.4%

Environmental Science

1.1%

Food Science

1.0%

Pharmacology

0.9%

Mathematics

0.9%

Marketing

0.9%

Finance

0.8%

General Education, Specific Areas

0.7%

Computer Science

0.7%

Criminal Justice

0.7%

Nursing

0.6%

Education

0.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

46.9%

Masters

31.1%

Doctorate

12.1%

Other

6.1%

Certificate

1.6%

Associate

1.6%

Diploma

0.5%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$80,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$56,000
Min 10%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$80,000
Median 50%
$115,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Afton Chemical
Highest Paying City
Danvers, MA
Highest Paying State
Minnesota
Avg Experience Level
3.3 years
How much does a Research And Development Chemist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Research And Development Chemist in the United States is $80,923 per year or $39 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $56,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $115,000.

Real Research And Development Chemist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior R&D Chemist Interfashion Cosmetics Corp. Teterboro, NJ Jan 14, 2015 $116,200
Process Development Manager, Senior R&D Chemist CVC Specialty Chemicals, Inc. Maple Shade, NJ Sep 07, 2013 $116,050
Analytical Research and Development Chemist Perrigo Pharmaceuticals Company Allegan, MI Aug 18, 2015 $111,755
R&D Chemist Celanese Corporation Florence, KY Sep 20, 2013 $105,000 -
$115,000
R&D Chemist Celanese Corporation Irving, TX Jan 28, 2014 $105,000
Senior R&D Chemist Belzona Global, LLC Miami Lakes, FL Jul 02, 2014 $102,000
Senior R&D Chemist/Manager Belzona Global, LLC Miami Lakes, FL Jul 02, 2014 $102,000
R&D Staff Separations Chemist Ut-Battelle, LLC (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) Oak Ridge, TN Apr 01, 2016 $100,200
R&D Staff Separations Chemist Ut-Battelle, LLC (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) Oak Ridge, TN Jan 04, 2016 $100,200
Senior Research & Development (R&D) Chemist SNF Holding Company Riceboro, GA Aug 30, 2016 $100,000 -
$120,000
R&D Chemist W.R. Grace & Co. Columbia, MD Dec 09, 2016 $96,000
SR. Analytical Research & Development Chemist West-Ward Pharmaceutical Corporation Eatontown, NJ Aug 03, 2015 $95,000
Research and Development Chemist Actega Kelstar, Inc. Cinnaminson, NJ Dec 15, 2015 $76,840
Analytical R&D Chemist Ascent Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Central Islip, NY Jun 11, 2016 $75,000
R & D Chemist-Aerospace Hentzen Coatings, Inc. Milwaukee, WI Sep 06, 2014 $75,000
Senior R&D Chemist The Sherwin-Williams Company Columbus, OH Aug 08, 2016 $75,000 -
$85,000
Senior R&D Chemist The Sherwin-Williams Company Chicago, IL Sep 15, 2016 $75,000 -
$85,000
Senior R&D Chemist-Analytical Services Lehigh Valley Technologies Inc. Allentown, PA Nov 25, 2014 $74,000 -
$80,000
Senior R&D Chemist-Analytical Services Lehigh Valley Technologies Inc. Allentown, PA Nov 14, 2014 $74,000 -
$80,000
R & D Chemist Pharmaceutics International, Incorporated Huntingtown, MD Jun 17, 2016 $73,133
Senior R&D Chemist Belzona Global, LLC Miami Lakes, FL Aug 16, 2014 $61,800
Research and Development Chemist Cardolite Corporation Monmouth Junction, NJ Sep 04, 2014 $61,500 -
$65,500
Research & Development Chemist Carolina Liquid Chemistries Corp. Brea, CA Dec 11, 2014 $61,000
R&D Chemist NEOS Therapeutics, LP Grand Prairie, TX Jan 09, 2016 $61,000
Research & Development Chemist Carolina Liquid Chemistries Corporation Brea, CA Jun 13, 2014 $61,000
Research and Development Chemist CVC Specialty Chemicals, Inc. Moorestown, NJ Sep 01, 2015 $60,000 -
$80,000
R&D Chemist Allure Labs, Inc. Hayward, CA Aug 28, 2013 $60,000

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Top Skills for A Research And Development Chemist

  1. Analytical Methods
  2. New Product Development
  3. Laboratory Equipment
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed analytical methods for production plant QA/QC laboratories and trained lab personnel at production plants to perform analyses.
  • Performed functions of technical director after his resignation, coordinating new product development, manufacturing, and quality assurance.
  • Maintain and calibrate laboratory equipment/instrumentation.
  • Investigated effects of newer raw materials in existing product formulations to improve performance of products.
  • Coordinated and managed several investigative testing special projects.

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Top 10 Best States for Research And Development Chemists

  1. Maryland
  2. District of Columbia
  3. New Mexico
  4. Massachusetts
  5. Delaware
  6. Virginia
  7. Texas
  8. North Dakota
  9. Connecticut
  10. Minnesota
  • (248 jobs)
  • (65 jobs)
  • (122 jobs)
  • (560 jobs)
  • (22 jobs)
  • (309 jobs)
  • (404 jobs)
  • (20 jobs)
  • (109 jobs)
  • (151 jobs)

Top Research And Development Chemist Employers

Jobs From Top Research And Development Chemist Employers

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