What Is A Chemical Technician?
A Chemical Technician is a professional who assists chemists and chemical engineers with research, development, and production of various chemical processes and products. They are responsible for conducting experiments, analyzing results, and maintaining laboratory equipment to ensure accurate results and compliance with safety protocols. Chemical Technicians often work in various industries, such as pharmaceuticals, energy, environmental, and materials manufacturing.
Chemical Technician Duties
The primary duties of a Chemical Technician include:
- Preparing chemical solutions, reagents, and samples for testing and analysis
- Conducting laboratory experiments and tests following established procedures and protocols
- Using specialized equipment, such as spectrophotometers, chromatographs, and microscopes, to analyze samples
- Recording and analyzing data, often using computer software, to report results
- Maintaining laboratory equipment and ensuring that it is in proper working order
- Adhering to safety regulations and best practices to ensure a safe and efficient working environment
- Collaborating with chemists and chemical engineers to develop and implement new processes or products
Day In The Life of a Chemical Technician
A typical day for a Chemical Technician begins with preparing the necessary equipment and materials for the day’s experiments. This may involve setting up and calibrating equipment, mixing solutions, or collecting samples. Once everything is in place, the technician conducts the experiments following established procedures, taking care to accurately record observations and data.
Throughout the day, the Chemical Technician may need to analyze samples using various techniques, such as chromatography or spectroscopy. They will then use computer software to process the data and report their findings to the supervising chemist or chemical engineer.
At the end of the day, the Chemical Technician is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the laboratory and equipment, ensuring that everything is in proper working order for the next day’s experiments.
Chemical Technician Work Schedule
Chemical Technicians typically work full-time, with a standard 40-hour work week. However, they may occasionally need to work evenings or weekends to complete projects or meet deadlines. The work can be physically demanding, as they may need to stand for long periods or lift heavy equipment. Additionally, Chemical Technicians must be vigilant about safety, as they often work with hazardous materials and chemicals.
Growth of the Chemical Technician Career
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for Chemical Technicians is projected to grow 3% from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As industries continue to focus on research and development, there will likely be more demand for Chemical Technicians to assist with experiments and product development.
Typical Chemical Technician Employers
Chemical Technicians are employed by a variety of organizations, including:
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Research and development institutions
- Chemical and materials manufacturing companies
- Government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Colleges and universities
- Independent laboratories
Some Chemical Technicians may also work as freelancers or consultants, providing their services on a contract basis.
How To Become A Chemical Technician
To pursue a career as a Chemical Technician, individuals typically need an associate degree in applied science or a related field. Some positions may require a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a related discipline. It is essential to have a strong background in chemistry, mathematics, and computer science, as these skills are critical for performing the tasks required in this profession.
In addition to formal education, hands-on training and experience in a laboratory setting are valuable for aspiring Chemical Technicians. Internships, cooperative education programs, or part-time employment in a laboratory can provide this practical experience.
Certifications, such as the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Chemical Technician certification, can also enhance job prospects and demonstrate competence in the field.
Chemical Technician Salary Data
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for Chemical Technicians was $49,260 in May 2020. The lowest 10% earned less than $31,450, and the highest 10% earned more than $81,420. Hourly wages for Chemical Technicians ranged from $15.12 to $39.14, with a median hourly wage of $23.68.
Popular Colleges for Chemical Technician
Many community colleges, technical schools, and universities offer programs in applied science or chemistry that can prepare students for a career as a Chemical Technician. Some popular institutions include:
- Houston Community College
- Sinclair Community College
- San Jacinto College
- Community College of Philadelphia
- Los Angeles Valley College
Job Growth Projections and Forecast for Chemical Technicians
As of 2019, there were approximately 70,300 Chemical Technicians employed in the United States. The BLS projects a 3% growth rate in employment from 2019 to 2029, resulting in an estimated 2,100 new jobs in the field. This growth is driven primarily by the continued need for research and development in various industries, as well as advancements in technology and materials science.