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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 Research Chemist
Top Careers After Research Chemist
Hispanic or Latino7.8%
Black or African American0.9%
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Pennsylvania State University6.8%
University of Florida6.8%
University of Houston6.3%
University of Illinois University Administration5.9%
University of Cincinnati5.4%
Ohio State University5.4%
Wayne State University4.9%
Michigan State University4.9%
University of Utah4.9%
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee4.9%
Georgia Institute of Technology -4.9%
Wright State University4.4%
Illinois Institute of Technology3.9%
Eastern Michigan University3.9%
Cleveland State University3.9%
University of Illinois at Chicago3.9%
Iowa State University3.9%
University of California - Irvine3.4%
Unfortunately we don’t have enough data for this section.
|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Research Chemist||Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP||Bartlesville, OK||Sep 04, 2015||$114,500 -
|Research Chemist||Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP||Bartlesville, OK||Sep 03, 2015||$114,500 -
|Research Chemist||SES Group & Associates, LLC||McLean, VA||Sep 14, 2016||$112,528|
|Research Chemist||Stepan Company||Houston, TX||Jul 19, 2016||$110,000|
|Research Chemist||Scientific Design Company, Inc.||Little Ferry, NJ||Aug 10, 2015||$109,000|
|Research Chemist||Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, L.P.||Bartlesville, OK||Aug 25, 2016||$105,100 -
|Research Chemist||BASF Corporation||Wyandotte, MI||May 17, 2016||$102,294 -
|Research Chemist||Ultivue Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Sep 01, 2015||$100,000|
|Research Chemist||Halocarbon Products Corporation||North Augusta, SC||Sep 24, 2015||$100,000|
|Research Chemist||Cytec Industries Inc.||Stamford, CT||Aug 26, 2016||$99,227|
|Advanced Research Chemist||Eastman Chemical Company||Kingsport, TN||Jul 08, 2016||$93,700 -
|Research Chemist I||The Broad Institute Inc.||Cambridge, MA||Apr 05, 2016||$93,150|
|Advanced Research Chemist||Eastman Chemical Company||Kingsport, TN||Aug 29, 2015||$89,200 -
|Head Research Chemist||PTP Group Americas, Inc.||CA||Mar 18, 2016||$89,170|
|Research Chemist||PPG Industries, Inc.||Monroeville, PA||Sep 15, 2016||$77,000 -
|Research Chemist||PPG Industries, Inc.||Monroeville, PA||Sep 25, 2016||$77,000 -
|Research Chemist||Microchem Corporation||Westborough, MA||Jan 25, 2015||$76,960|
|Research Chemist||Energy Power Systems LLC||Pontiac, MI||May 09, 2016||$75,000|
|Research Chemist||ICL-Ip America, Inc.||Ardsley, NY||Jul 09, 2016||$74,756|
|Research Chemist||Johns Manville||Littleton, CO||Sep 13, 2015||$73,000 -
|Research Chemist||Sabic Innovative Plastics Us LLC||Vernon, IN||Aug 14, 2016||$72,100|
|Research Chemist||The Lubrizol Corporation||Cleveland, OH||Dec 01, 2015||$71,718|
|Research Chemist||Natural Systems Utilities LLC||Hillsborough, NJ||Sep 17, 2015||$62,000|
|Research Chemist||USDA, Agricultural Research Service||Hilo, HI||Jun 01, 2015||$61,760|
|Research Chemist 1||Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International||Parkton, NC||Jul 15, 2016||$61,500 -
|Research Chemists||Anichem, Inc.||North Brunswick, NJ||May 14, 2015||$61,402|
|Research Chemist||Athenex, Inc.||Buffalo, NY||Sep 19, 2016||$60,528|
|Research Chemist, Dry Polymer||Chemeor, Inc.||Covina, CA||Aug 25, 2016||$60,000|
|Research Chemist||Liquid Ion Solutions LLC||Pittsburgh, PA||Jun 08, 2016||$60,000|
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