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Become A Senior Chemist

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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

  • $66,000

    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 Jobs

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Senior Chemist Career Paths

Senior Chemist
Senior Scientist Project Manager Senior Project Manager
Director Of Project Management
12 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Manager Quality Manager
Director Of Quality & Engineering
14 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Supervisor Operation Supervisor Team Manager
Group Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Supervisor Maintenance Technician Senior Technologist
Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Technical Manager Consulting Engineer Product Development Engineer
Lead Product Developer
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Scientist Project Leader Operations Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Supervisor Production Supervisor Process Engineer
Process Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Scientist Project Manager Product Manager
Product Director
11 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager Quality Assurance Manager Construction Manager
Quality Control Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Group Leader Production Supervisor Quality Engineer
Quality Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Supervisor Quality Assurance Manager Regulatory Affairs Manager
Regulatory Affairs Director
12 Yearsyrs
Laboratory Manager Quality Control Manager Quality Assurance Manager
Regulatory Affairs Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Chemistry Instructor Chemistry Teacher Laboratory Analyst
Senior Laboratory Analyst
5 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Manager Research And Development Manager
Senior Manager Of Research And Development
12 Yearsyrs
Scientist Laboratory Manager Operations Manager
Senior Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Staff Scientist Assistant Professor Senior Scientist
Study Director
7 Yearsyrs
Group Leader Maintenance Technician Lead Technician
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Senior Chemist?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Chief Chemist 5.3 years
Senior Chemist 5.0 years
Staff Chemist 4.6 years
Research Chemist 3.7 years
Principal Chemist 3.5 years
Chemist 3.3 years
Analytical Chemist 3.1 years
Associate Chemist 3.0 years
Chemist Lead 3.0 years
Junior Chemist 2.0 years
Contract Chemist 1.4 years
Top Careers Before Senior Chemist
Chemist 23.2%
Scientist 4.6%
Fellow 2.4%
Internship 2.1%
Top Careers After Senior Chemist
Chemist 13.2%
Scientist 10.6%
Consultant 5.3%
Manager 3.3%

Do you work as a Senior Chemist?

Senior Chemist Demographics

Gender

Male

61.5%

Female

30.6%

Unknown

7.9%
Ethnicity

White

52.1%

Asian

21.0%

Hispanic or Latino

12.8%

Black or African American

8.8%

Unknown

5.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

38.1%

Japanese

9.5%

Chinese

8.3%

German

8.3%

French

6.0%

Mandarin

4.8%

Russian

3.6%

Hindi

2.4%

Cantonese

2.4%

Carrier

2.4%

Portuguese

2.4%

Arabic

2.4%

Swedish

1.2%

Marathi

1.2%

Gujarati

1.2%

Bulgarian

1.2%

Ukrainian

1.2%

Malay

1.2%

Armenian

1.2%

Persian

1.2%
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Senior Chemist Education

Schools

Pennsylvania State University

7.8%

University of Florida

7.3%

Ohio State University

6.8%

Purdue University

6.8%

Fairleigh Dickinson University

5.8%

University of California - Davis

5.8%

University of Washington

4.9%

Texas A&M University

4.9%

Case Western Reserve University

4.4%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

4.4%

State University of New York Buffalo

4.4%

West Virginia University

4.4%

University of Colorado at Boulder

4.4%

Johns Hopkins University

4.4%

Northeastern University

4.4%

University of California - Berkeley

3.9%

University of Akron

3.9%

Rochester Institute of Technology

3.9%

Louisiana State University and A&M College

3.9%

University of Connecticut

3.9%
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Majors

Chemistry

62.2%

Biology

8.4%

Pharmacy

4.9%

Business

4.2%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

3.9%

Chemical Engineering

3.2%

Plastics Engineering

2.0%

Environmental Science

1.3%

Management

1.2%

Food Science

1.1%

Materials Sciences

1.1%

Biotechnology

1.0%

Project Management

0.9%

Materials Science And Engineering

0.8%

Microbiology

0.7%

Computer Science

0.7%

Zoology

0.7%

Finance

0.7%

Public Health

0.6%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

0.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

36.4%

Masters

30.8%

Doctorate

21.8%

Other

7.8%

Certificate

1.8%

Associate

0.7%

Diploma

0.4%

License

0.2%
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Temporary

Real Senior Chemist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Chemist QA Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc. Cranbury, NJ Jun 23, 2015 $120,000
Senior Chemist SDC Technologies, Inc. Irvine, CA Jun 30, 2016 $117,000
SR. Chemist American Antibiotics, Inc. Brooklyn Park, MD Apr 18, 2016 $110,000
Senior Analytical Chemist Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. Washington, DC Jan 14, 2016 $109,777
Senior Chemist W. R. Meadows, Inc. Fort Worth, TX Jul 18, 2016 $107,723
Senior Chemist Eastman Chemical Company Kingsport, TN Jun 06, 2016 $107,505
Senior Chemist 3M Company Saint Paul, MN May 08, 2016 $107,303
Senior Chemist-Polystyrene Plant Support Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Inc. La Porte, TX Aug 12, 2015 $106,920
Senior Pharmaceutical Chemist S&B Pharma, Inc. D/B/A Alkem Laboratories Fenton, MO Nov 10, 2016 $105,000
Senior Scientist-Analytical Chemist Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. Pleasanton, CA Jul 12, 2015 $105,000
Senior Chemist Eastman Chemical Company Kingsport, TN Jul 18, 2016 $102,505 -
$112,505
Senior Chemist Eastman Chemical Company Kingsport, TN Sep 19, 2015 $102,505 -
$112,505
SR. Chemist Halliburton Energy Services, Inc. Houston, TX Aug 30, 2016 $101,005
Senior Chemist BASF Corporation Union, NJ Aug 25, 2016 $100,450
SR. Chemist The Dow Chemical Company Midland, MI Aug 24, 2016 $90,624 -
$135,936
SR. Chemist The Dow Chemical Company Midland, MI Dec 08, 2016 $90,624 -
$135,936
Senior Chemist W. R. Meadows, Inc. Fort Worth, TX Jul 18, 2016 $90,000
Senior Chemist The Valspar Corporation Minneapolis, MN Feb 09, 2016 $89,828
Senior Chemist Moroccanoil Inc. Teterboro, NJ Jan 11, 2016 $89,000
Senior Development Chemist Henkel Electronics Materials LLC Chanhassen, MN Oct 01, 2015 $88,400 -
$100,846
Senior Chemist Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials LLC, A Subsidiary of The Dow Chemic Marlborough, MA Sep 02, 2015 $88,152 -
$132,240
Senior Chemist The Dow Chemical Company Midland, MI Sep 02, 2015 $88,152 -
$132,228
Senior Chemist Actagro, LLC Biola, CA Sep 24, 2015 $80,000
Senior Chemist Helen, Inc. Caledonia, MI Sep 23, 2015 $80,000
Senior Chemist Oxygen Development Palm Springs, FL Oct 27, 2016 $80,000
Senior Chemist Micro Quality Labs, Inc. Burbank, CA Sep 02, 2015 $79,306
Senior Chemist Plastic Innovations, Inc. CA Feb 12, 2016 $79,206
Senior Electrochemist Silatronix, Inc. Madison, WI Jul 09, 2016 $79,000 -
$119,000
Senior Chemist Svtronics, Inc. Plano, TX Jan 09, 2015 $77,875
Senior Analytical Chemist MacDermid Incorporated Waterbury, CT Jun 07, 2016 $77,700 -
$94,087

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AVERAGE SALARY FOR A Senior Chemist

Average Yearly Salary
$66,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$44,000
Min 10%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$66,000
Median 50%
$98,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Clayton Homes
Highest Paying City
Lake Jackson, TX
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.8 years
How much does a Senior Chemist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Senior Chemist in the United States is $66,311 per year or $32 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $44,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $98,000.

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Top Skills for A Senior Chemist

  1. Analytical Methods
  2. Laboratory Equipment
  3. Business Development
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Function: Develop and validate analytical methods for semiconductor wet cleans formulations and related raw materials.
  • Performed routine and non-routine maintenance on laboratory equipment and software, including problem identification and resolution.
  • Formed and directed reference standard group and coordinated with quality control and business development to support the manufacturing of commercial products.
  • Perform wet chemistry sample analysis and sample extractions including microwave digestion.
  • Lead team of six HPLC Chemists testing raw material, in-process, finished dosage, and stability products.

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Top 10 Best States for Senior Chemists

  1. North Dakota
  2. Delaware
  3. Connecticut
  4. District of Columbia
  5. Minnesota
  6. Michigan
  7. Massachusetts
  8. New Mexico
  9. Texas
  10. Indiana
  • (4 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (26 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (27 jobs)
  • (44 jobs)
  • (53 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (59 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)

Top Senior Chemist Employers

Jobs From Top Senior Chemist Employers

Senior Chemist Videos

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

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