How to Become A Chemist

Chemists work in basic and applied research and find new ways to apply the knowledge in improving and creating products and processes. They can also work for a chemical manufacturing plants in quality control or production departments. There are different branches of chemistry such as, organic, inorganic, analytical, physical, medicinal, materials and theoretical chemistry. You may choose to specialize in any one of them.

Should I Become a Chemist?

The following table will give you all the details regarding the profession of a chemist and will help you decide if you should become a chemist or not.

Education Required

Bachelor’s Degree

Major Requirement

Chemistry, Materials science


Not Required


Not Mandatory

Key Skills

Analytical skills, Communication skills, Interpersonal skills, Math skills, Organizational skills, Problem-solving skills, Time-management skills, Perseverance

Annual Mean Salary (2019)


Job Outlook (2018-2028)

4% (Chemists and Material Scientists)

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Outlook

Chemists are expected to witness a growth of 4% in job opportunities from 2018-2028, as per data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the coming years, these professionals will be required in medicine and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies to develop nanotechnology for medicinal usage. They will also be needed to improve the environmental safety at workplaces with the help of their knowledge in green chemistry.

Chemists are required to have analytical skills so they can carry out scientific experiments and analyze the results accurately. They need to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills so they can coordinate tasks among their team members. Since they have to use multiple formulas and equations, they are required to have a broad understanding of math. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage of a chemist was $84,150 in 2019.

Steps to Become a Chemist

Step 1: Research Education Options

The minimum education requirement to become a chemist is a Bachelor’s degree. However, those who want to pursue their career in the field of research are likely to go for Ph.D. Before you get into this field, you ought to know which educational path you want to embark on, according to your long-term career goals.

Step 2: Earn your Bachelor’s Degree

Aspiring chemists can earn their bachelor’s degree in fields like chemistry, life science, physical science or any other related discipline. Organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, math, physics, computer science and biology are some of the required courses.

Step 3: Gain Experience

Gaining practical experience is an important part of the process. It proves advantageous when these candidates are looking for jobs or applying for a graduate program.  Students can do an internship during their Bachelor’s degree or they can also choose a work-study program. This helps them develop skills for future and also gives them the opportunity to build a network in their field.

Step 4: Earn you Graduate Degree

Students who want to become researchers should get a Master’s degree or a Ph.D. Graduate programs allow students to choose an area of specialty like organic, inorganic, medicinal, analytical, etc. Students get a chance to choose a thesis or a non-thesis Master’s program. However, those who opt for a Ph. D program have to conduct a research and prepare a thesis.

Step 5: Find a Job

After receiving your degree, you may start looking for a job in basic or applied research. Even though most of your time will be spent in a laboratory, you will also have to work outdoors and at the office.

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