Chemical Technician Career Description

Summary

Chemical technicians use special instruments and techniques to assist chemists and chemical engineers.

What they do

Chemical technicians use laboratory instruments and techniques to help chemists and chemical engineers research, develop, produce, and test chemical products and processes.

Chemical technicians typically do the following:

  • Monitor chemical processes and test the quality of products to make sure that they meet standards and specifications
  • Set up and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment
  • Troubleshoot production problems or malfunctioning instruments
  • Prepare chemical solutions
  • Conduct, compile, and interpret results of chemical and physical experiments, tests, and analyses for a variety of purposes, including research and development
  • Prepare technical reports, graphs, and charts, and give presentations that summarize their results

Most chemical technicians work on teams. Typically, they are led by chemists or chemical engineers who direct their work and evaluate their results. However, they may serve as mentors to chemists who are new to a lab or to a specialized area of research.

Technicians who work in laboratories may help conduct experiments that contribute to research and development. For example, some chemical technicians help chemists and other scientists develop new medicines. In this way, chemical technicians often bridge the gap in knowledge remaining when a chemist moves on to a new assignment.

Other chemical technicians work in manufacturing and assist in developing more efficient production processes.

Work Environment

Chemical technicians typically work in laboratories or in industrial facilities such as chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing plants.

How to become a Chemical Technician

Chemical technicians need an associate degree or 2 years of postsecondary education for most jobs. Most chemical technicians also receive on-the-job training.

For most jobs, chemical technicians need an associate degree in applied science or chemical technology or 2 years of postsecondary education.

Many technical and community colleges offer programs in applied sciences or chemical technology. Students typically take classes in math, physics, and biology, in addition to chemistry courses. Coursework in statistics and computer science is also useful because technicians routinely do data analysis and modeling.

One of the most important aspects of any degree program is laboratory time because it provides students with hands-on practice in conducting experiments and using various instruments and techniques properly. Many schools also offer internships and cooperative-education programs that help students gain employment experience while attending school.

Pay

The median annual wage for chemical technicians was $49,260 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,110, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,350.

Job Outlook

Employment of chemical technicians is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Many chemical technicians are employed in manufacturing industries that are projected to decline.

However, chemical technicians will continue to be in demand in testing laboratories to test new materials and products developed by chemists and chemical engineers. They will also be needed in scientific research and development (R&D) and to monitor the quality of chemical products and processes. Greater interest in environmental issues, such as pollution control, clean energy, and sustainability, is expected to increase the demand for chemistry R&D.

Similar Job Titles

Chemical Analyst, Chemical Technician, Formulation Technician, Laboratory Analyst (Lab Analyst), Laboratory Technician (Lab Tech), Laboratory Tester (Lab Tester), Organic Preparation Analyst (Organic Prep Analyst), Quality Control Technician (QC Technician), Research Technician, Water Quality Technician

Related Occupations

Manufacturing Production Technician, Chemist, Agricultural Technician, Geological Sample Test Technician, Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technician

More Information

The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field.  Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas.  As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.

  • American Academy of Forensic Sciences - The objectives of this Academy shall be to promote professionalism, integrity, and competency in the membership actions and associated activities; to promote education for and research in the forensic sciences; to encourage the study, improve the practice, elevate the standards and advance the cause of the forensic sciences; to promote interdisciplinary communications; and to plan, organize and administer meetings, reports and other projects for the stimulation and advancement of these and related purposes.
  • American Chemical Society - ACS is one of the world’s largest scientific organizations with more than 152,000 members in 130+ countries. The mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people. Student Programs and Resources may be helpful to those with an interest in the field.
  • American Society for Quality - ASQ empowers people, communities, and organizations of the world to achieve excellence through quality.
  • International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers - This organization is a diverse labor union advocating on behalf of more than 80,000 women and men in professional, technical, administrative and associated occupations in the United States and Canada. Our members are employed by federal, public and private employers.

Magazines and Publications

Video Transcript

With a combination of science interests and hands-on skills, chemical technicians improve consumer products… from baby shampoo and breakfast cereal to engine oil. They use laboratory instruments and techniques to help research, produce, and test chemical products and processes. Chemical technicians generally work on teams led by chemists or chemical engineers… who direct their work and evaluate the results. Technicians work in laboratories or industrial facilities such as chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing plants. In labs, chemical technicians help conduct experiments in research and development —for example, helping develop new medicines, or clean energy and pollution control solutions. They prepare reports and give presentations to describe results. Those who work in manufacturing… assist in developing more efficient production processes, and troubleshoot fixes for malfunctioning instruments. Most chemical technicians work full time, and may work extra hours to meet project deadlines. Some work irregular hours monitoring experiments or plant operations. Following proper procedures is essential in this field… to avoid exposure to health or safety hazards. For most jobs, chemical technicians need an associate’s degree in applied science or chemical technology, or two years of related college coursework. Lab experience at school is critical to gain hands on practice conducting experiments and using instruments properly.

Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org