What Are the Education Requirements to Become a Chemist?

Chemists spend much of their time developing research plans and conducting experiments in laboratories. They may specialize in various areas, including medicinal chemistry, physical chemistry or theoretical chemistry. Continue reading to learn more about chemists, their educational requirements and the career outlook. Schools offering Science, Technology, and International Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Chemist Defined

A chemist is a scientist who uses research, experiments and analysis to improve manufactured products and create new goods. Chemistry has allowed us to create items like cosmetics and drugs. Medicine, food processing, oil refining and agriculture are just a few of the fields that require chemists.

Chemists conduct basic research to gain academic knowledge regarding properties of matter and focus on applied research to try to create a specific process or product. Chemists often specialize in a particular area. For example, you might become an organic chemist and work with carbon compounds.

Important Facts About Educational Requirements for Chemists

Online Availability Yes
Degree Fields Chemistry, chemical technology, biochemistry
Degrees Associate's; bachelor's; master's; doctorate
Concentrations Biochemistry, environmental chemistry, fermentation sciences, forensic science, geochemistry, inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, organic chemistry, pharmacology, physical chemistry


For entry-level positions as a chemist, a bachelor's degree in chemistry is usually required. In many cases, it can be beneficial to complete a program that has the approval of the American Chemical Society. Many positions require a minimum of a master's degree, and applicants who have a doctorate are often given more responsibility.

Chemistry programs usually include a lot of laboratory work, which involves working with scientific apparatuses and completing experiment assignments. Coursework you may be expected to complete includes physical chemistry, organic chemistry, computer science, physics, inorganic chemistry, analytical chemistry, mathematics and biological sciences.

If you want to get involved in a specific field, you'll want to look for specializations or minors that cover that area. For example, if you want to work in environmental studies, then you'll want to complete classes that cover soil, water and atmospheric chemistry. Other specializations include polymer chemistry, analytical chemistry and medicinal chemistry.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), chemists are expected to see an as fast-as-average job growth, with a six percent increase from 2016-2026 that would add about 5,700 new jobs. This means job prospects may be limited and keen competition might be found at all levels of employment. The majority (20%) of all chemists worked in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, followed by 15% in scientific research and development in 2018.

Also listed by the BLS, the median yearly salary of chemists was $76,890 as of May 2018. Chemists in the bottom ten percent made $43,920 or less per year, while the top ten percent earned $133,180 or more in annual income.

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