Chemical Technician Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become a chemical technician. Learn about education requirements, job duties, salary and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Science, Technology, and International Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Chemical Technician?

A chemical technician serves as an assistant in a chemistry or chemical engineering research lab. They perform routine laboratory work, like maintaining equipment, preparing chemical solutions and troubleshooting problems with scientific equipment. They also run chemical experiments, monitor their progress, and organize and interpret results. The specific goals of the research they help with depends on the nature of the lab; for instance, they might work for chemists who specialize in organic, physical or medicinal chemistry.

The following chart gives an overview of what you need to know to enter this field.

Degree/Experience Required Associate's degree
Education Field of Study Applied science, chemical technology
Training Required Laboratory internship, co-op education &/or on-the-job training
Key Skills Maintenance & care of instruments; analysis/synthesis of samples; quality control
Job Growth (2014-2024 ) 2%*
Average Salary (2015) $48,730*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Chemical Technician?

Most employers require chemical technicians to have an associate degree or relevant work experience. An associate degree in chemical technology program provides specific training in the field. You can expect to complete courses in general chemistry, organic chemistry and math. You'll also take laboratory courses in addition to completing coursework on scientific instrumentation and chemical measurement. Some programs also require you to take courses in biology, physics and analytical chemistry.

What Types of Positions Could I Apply For?

Two kinds of chemical technician positions are usually available. You may want to apply for a job as a chemical research technician or process control technician. Chemical companies provide many jobs in the industry, but pharmaceutical, biotech device and consumer product industries hire chemical technicians as well. As a research technician, you could also work in academic or government labs. Process control technicians usually work in industrial plants.

What Job Duties Will I Have?

As a chemical research technician, you'll likely perform a number of routine laboratory functions such as setting up and cleaning scientific instruments, preparing and analyzing samples, as well as cleaning glassware. You might also be responsible for conducting more complex tasks, such as synthesizing and purifying compounds.

As a process control technician, you'll likely focus on quality assurance. You might be responsible for ensuring that the manufacturing process is operating optimally and testing products for safety.

What Will My Salary Be?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), chemical technicians earned an average annual salary of $48,730, as of May 2015 ( During the same month, chemical technicians working for the federal government had the highest salaries, at an average of $73,360. Those working in the electric power industry earned about $70,270, while those in oil and gas extraction earned $63,760 on average.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you would rather work in a lab that focuses on human health, you could consider becoming a medical laboratory technician. In this job, you would work under the supervision of a medical laboratory technologist to run experiments on biological specimens for diagnostic or research purposes. For this job, you would need to get an associate's degree. If you are particularly interested in radiation chemistry, you could think about becoming a nuclear medicine technologist. These professionals prepare radioactive drugs, administer them to patients and create images that can be used for disease diagnosis, based on the location of the radioactive materials in the body. The minimum educational requirement is an associate's degree.

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