What Is the Salary of an Entry-Level Field Chemist?

Explore the career requirements for entry-level field chemists. Get the facts about salary, job duties, education requirements and the career outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Science, Technology, and International Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Field Chemist?

Field chemists may sample, test and package hazardous materials. They work with businesses, factories and other buyers of these materials to ensure proper handling of these items and prevent any dangerous interactions. They also enforce any regulatory standards concerning these materials. Should an incident occur, such as a spill, field chemists will assist in the cleanup process. Field chemists must be prepared to work in a variety of environments, including outdoors, and also be prepared to handle chemicals that could cause burns or other health issues. This chart summarizes entry-level requirements, job duties, salary statistics and the job outlook.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree, or associate's degree with experience
Education Field of Study Chemistry, Engineering
Key Responsibilities Hazardous waste removal; ensuring compliance with environmental regulations
Licensure CDL with Hazmat endorsement may be required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3% (all chemists)*
Median Salary (2016) $53,846**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale

What Could I Earn?

According to 2016 data from PayScale, field chemists earned a median salary of $53,846. However, salaries may vary depending upon location, industry and education; additional years of experience can raise your earning potential. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the middle 80% of chemists of all levels combined earned $41,110 to $125,450 (www.bls.gov) in 2015.

What Are My Job Duties?

Most field chemists work for environmental or hazardous waste management companies to facilitate the removal, assessment, packing and transport of hazardous and non-hazardous materials from project sites. Such materials must be packed according to Department of Transportation and other government regulations, and the appropriate paperwork must be completed. In addition to packing chemicals in their appropriate containers it is also necessary to follow the established procedures to prepare and load them for safe transport. According to job ads on Monster.com in April 2011, many positions include significant physical work, on-call periods and overnight travel.

How Do I Prepare?

A bachelor's degree in chemistry or engineering is a good fit for this career; chemistry is generally preferred by employers, according to the Monster.com job postings. Sometimes, a lesser degree may be sufficient if you have professional experience. Knowledge in packing chemical materials and the ability to obtain a CDL license with a Hazardous Waste Endorsement within six months of hire is generally required. It is also important that you are fully aware of environmental service government regulations at the local, state and federal levels. Applicants must demonstrate good physical condition and pass a background check.

What Would the Outlook Be for This Career?

Chemists overall were expected to experience slow growth during the 2014-2024 decade. According to the BLS, the number of positions was expected to increase only three percent, which is considerably slower than the average growth for all professions combined. However, environmental research may offer opportunities, and field chemists will be needed to monitor compliance with government regulations related to the environment and pollution.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

For those interested in alternative careers, you may want to consider becoming chemical engineers, geoscientists or natural sciences managers. All of these positions require a bachelor's degree. Chemical engineers solve issues involving the production of things like chemicals or food. They use science and math skills to design and test new processes. Geoscientists study Earth to learn about its origin. They look at physical characteristics and try to piece together its past, present and future. Natural sciences managers oversee various scientists to ensure research projects stay on track and coordinate the different activities involved.

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