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Chemical Technicians

Chemical technicians often use laboratory equipment, such as microscopes, to do their work.

Chemical technicians often use laboratory equipment, such as microscopes, to do their work.

All new chemical products must be created, tested, refined, and tested again until they are ready to be released. This field includes industrial chemicals, household solutions, and pharmaceuticals. Laboratories are usually dedicated to one industry. Pharmaceutical laboratories will be discussed in this section. If you’ve enjoyed working with laboratory equipment in the past, or if the idea of carefully mixing chemicals all day piques your interest, read on.

 

Fast Facts

Minimum Education Required: Associate’s Degree

Top 3 Skills: Patience, Organization, Precision

Average Starting Salary: $27,000/year

 

Job Description

Technicians work under the supervision of chemists or other scientists running the laboratory. They follow detailed instructions to perform necessary, though often tedious, tasks and record their results. Tasks may include:

Mixing solutions

Cleaning and maintaining equipment

Conducting experiments and analyzing data

Graphing, charting, and reporting on results

Most technicians work during the usual 40-hour work week, though certain experiments may require round-the-clock monitoring.

Education

An associate’s degree in applied science or chemical technology will prepare students for working full time in a busy laboratory. Students will take courses in chemistry, biochemistry, physics, statistics, computer science, and science ethics.

Interested high school students should take advantage of available science courses, focusing on chemistry.

Licensing/Certification

Job-specific information is taught by fellow employees. There is no formal certification process for chemical technicians.

Job Outlook: Good

Employment is only predicted to grow by 7% in this field, which is well below the national average. However, the median annual salary is $42,040 (as of 2010), with the top 10% of workers earning over $67,000 annually (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

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