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Working As A Senior Chemist

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

  • $82,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Senior 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 Senior 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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Senior Chemist Career Paths

Senior Chemist
Senior Scientist
Research And Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Research And Development Manager
Research And Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Group Leader Production Supervisor Quality Control Manager
Quality Control Director
9 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager Quality Assurance Manager Regulatory Affairs Manager
Regulatory Affairs Director
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Research And Development Manager Research And Development Director
Vice President Of Research And Development
13 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager
Laboratory Manager Of Operations
10 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager Quality Control Manager Research And Development Manager
Senior Manager Of Research And Development
12 Yearsyrs
Group Leader Store Manager Food Service Director
Food Safety Director
8 Yearsyrs
Group Leader Production Manager Processing Manager
Process Development Director
11 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Supervisor Quality Assurance Manager Compliance Manager
Regulatory Compliance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Supervisor Quality Assurance Manager Regulatory Affairs Manager
Regulatory Compliance Director
12 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Supervisor Quality Supervisor
Assistant Manager Of Quality
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Development Engineer Senior Product Development Engineer
Lead Product Developer
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Mechanical Engineer Research And Development Senior Engineer
Research And Development Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Development Engineer Research And Development Senior Engineer
Research And Development Project Leader
6 Yearsyrs
Project Leader Senior Java Developer Senior Software Engineer Lead
Technology Development Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Chief Chemist 5.3 years
Senior Chemist 5.0 years
Staff Chemist 4.5 years
Principal Chemist 4.3 years
Research Chemist 3.9 years
Chemist 3.5 years
Analytical Chemist 3.2 years
Chemist Lead 3.0 years
Associate Chemist 3.0 years
Laboratory Chemist 2.8 years
Junior Chemist 2.2 years
Contract Chemist 1.4 years
Top Careers Before Senior Chemist
Chemist 24.1%
Scientist 4.8%
Internship 2.3%
Top Careers After Senior Chemist
Chemist 14.4%
Scientist 9.7%
Consultant 5.5%
Manager 2.8%

Do you work as a Senior Chemist?

Average Yearly Salary
$82,000
Show Salaries
$64,000
Min 10%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$106,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
AT&T
Highest Paying City
Wilmington, DE
Highest Paying State
Rhode Island
Avg Experience Level
5.0 years
How much does a Senior Chemist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Senior Chemist in the United States is $82,996 per year or $40 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $64,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $106,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Real Senior Chemist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Chemist QA Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc. Jun 23, 2015 $120,000
Senior Chemist SDC Technologies, Inc. Jun 30, 2016 $117,000
SR. Chemist American Antibiotics, Inc. Apr 18, 2016 $110,000
Senior Analytical Chemist Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. Jan 14, 2016 $109,777
Senior Chemist W. R. Meadows, Inc. Jul 18, 2016 $107,723
Senior Chemist Eastman Chemical Company Jun 06, 2016 $107,505
Senior Chemist 3M Company May 08, 2016 $107,303
Senior Chemist-Polystyrene Plant Support Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Inc. Aug 12, 2015 $106,920
Senior Pharmaceutical Chemist S&B Pharma, Inc. D/B/A Alkem Laboratories Nov 10, 2016 $105,000
Senior Scientist-Analytical Chemist Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. Jul 12, 2015 $105,000
Senior Chemist Eastman Chemical Company Jul 18, 2016 $102,505 -
$112,505
Senior Chemist Eastman Chemical Company Sep 19, 2015 $102,505 -
$112,505
SR. Chemist Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. Aug 30, 2016 $101,005
Senior Chemist BASF Corporation Aug 25, 2016 $100,450
SR. Chemist The Dow Chemical Company Aug 24, 2016 $90,624 -
$135,936
SR. Chemist The Dow Chemical Company Dec 08, 2016 $90,624 -
$135,936
Senior Chemist W. R. Meadows, Inc. Jul 18, 2016 $90,000
Senior Chemist The Valspar Corporation Feb 09, 2016 $89,828
Senior Chemist Moroccanoil Inc. Jan 11, 2016 $89,000
Senior Development Chemist Henkel Electronics Materials LLC Oct 01, 2015 $88,400 -
$100,846
Senior Chemist Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials LLC, A Subsidiary of The Dow Chemic Sep 02, 2015 $88,152 -
$132,240
Senior Chemist The Dow Chemical Company Sep 02, 2015 $88,152 -
$132,228
Senior Chemist Actagro, LLC Sep 24, 2015 $80,000
Senior Chemist Helen, Inc. Sep 23, 2015 $80,000
Senior Chemist Oxygen Development Oct 27, 2016 $80,000
Senior Chemist Micro Quality Labs, Inc. Sep 02, 2015 $79,306
Senior Chemist Plastic Innovations, Inc. Feb 12, 2016 $79,206
Senior Electrochemist Silatronix, Inc. Jul 09, 2016 $79,000 -
$119,000
Senior Chemist Svtronics, Inc. Jan 09, 2015 $77,875
Senior Analytical Chemist MacDermid Incorporated Jun 07, 2016 $77,700 -
$94,087

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Top Skills for A Senior Chemist

  1. Analytical Methods
  2. Lab Equipment
  3. New Product Development
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Reduced laboratory's yearly operating cost by 10% through competitive pricing of consumables and utilizing cost effective analytical methods.
  • Operated lab equipment while exhibiting safety skills.
  • Authored an improved stage/gate system for new product development.
  • Performed and supervised wet chemistry analysis and organized a quality assurance/control program.
  • Continue performing cleaning validation/verification for manufacturing equipment using Waters HPLC.

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Top 10 Best States for Senior Chemists

  1. Rhode Island
  2. Delaware
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Maryland
  5. Washington
  6. Minnesota
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Arkansas
  9. Connecticut
  10. Maine
  • (3 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)
  • (38 jobs)
  • (24 jobs)
  • (27 jobs)
  • (53 jobs)
  • (10 jobs)
  • (26 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)

Senior Chemist Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 2,984 Senior Chemist resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Senior Chemist Resume

View Resume Examples

Senior Chemist Demographics

Gender

Male

61.7%

Female

29.8%

Unknown

8.5%
Ethnicity

White

52.9%

Asian

19.9%

Hispanic or Latino

12.3%

Black or African American

9.5%

Unknown

5.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

37.2%

German

8.5%

Japanese

8.5%

Chinese

7.4%

French

5.3%

Russian

5.3%

Hindi

4.3%

Mandarin

4.3%

Portuguese

3.2%

Cantonese

2.1%

Carrier

2.1%

Polish

2.1%

Arabic

2.1%

Swedish

1.1%

Marathi

1.1%

Gujarati

1.1%

Bulgarian

1.1%

Ukrainian

1.1%

Malay

1.1%

Bengali

1.1%
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Senior Chemist Education

Schools

Fairleigh Dickinson University

7.2%

Pennsylvania State University

7.2%

Purdue University

7.2%

Texas A&M University

6.0%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

5.4%

Temple University

5.4%

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

5.4%

University of Houston

5.4%

Michigan State University

4.8%

University of California - Davis

4.8%

University of Pittsburgh -

4.8%

Villanova University

4.2%

Wayne State University

4.2%

University of California - Berkeley

4.2%

Ohio State University

4.2%

University of Washington

4.2%

University of Missouri - Columbia

4.2%

Seton Hall University

4.2%

University of the Sciences

3.6%

Kansas State University

3.6%
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Majors

Chemistry

62.0%

Pharmacy

6.3%

Biology

6.2%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

5.1%

Chemical Engineering

3.7%

Business

3.4%

Environmental Science

1.9%

Plastics Engineering

1.9%

Project Management

1.2%

Management

1.2%

Biotechnology

1.0%

Computer Science

0.9%

Food Science

0.9%

Mathematics

0.8%

Nursing

0.7%

Materials Science And Engineering

0.7%

Engineering

0.7%

Microbiology

0.6%

Marketing

0.6%

Education

0.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

42.1%

Masters

30.0%

Doctorate

22.3%

Certificate

3.3%

Associate

1.1%

Diploma

0.7%

License

0.3%

High School Diploma

0.3%
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Senior Chemist Videos

Career Advice on becoming a Laboratory Technician by Katherine G (Full Version)

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Updated May 18, 2020