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What Are Some High-Paying Career Options in the Field of Chemistry?

Learn about career options in chemistry with good salary potential. Get profiles of several industries with high-paying chemistry jobs, and read about the duties and responsibilities of professionals in these fields.

Field Overview

The high-paying research jobs in chemistry typically require a master's or Ph.D. degree, as does advancement in this field. Continue reading for more information about industries with high-paying chemistry jobs.

Important Facts about This Occupational Field

Mean Salary (2020) $86,410 (for all types of chemists)
Required Education Bachelor's degree at minimum; graduate education needed for many jobs
Job Outlook (2019-2029) 5% (for all types of chemists)
Key Skills Organizational, communication, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Food Manufacturing Industry

Chemical science has been used to develop ways to preserve, process and improve food so it can be safer and more flavorful. As a food scientist, you work to develop new products with an eye on cost reduction and devising new flavor profiles. The BLS reports that as of May 2020, the median salary for food scientists and technologists was $73,450 per year.

Pharmaceutical Industry

Drug companies all over the world are constantly trying to find new medications that offer patients better results with fewer side effects. Top jobs in medical research and development require you to take the lead of a team of professionals in order to create strategies and use analytical methods for clinical development of products. The BLS reported in May 2020 that the annual mean salary for chemists in the pharmaceutical industry was $81,250.

Chemical Manufacturing Industry

Large chemical companies develop and manufacture solvents, paints and other chemically mixed products. Depending on your job title, you could be responsible for a number of research and development projects. The higher paying career paths are as team leaders or analytical chemists, but you can only become eligible to apply for those jobs after years of experience and advanced degree studies. Those who worked in chemical manufacturing earned a mean salary of about $91,480 per year, according to the BLS in 2020.

Government Employment

As a chemist at the federal level, you could work for a lab conducting product experiments. Opportunities include researching energy applications or developing new materials such as polymers. The BLS estimates that the mean salary in this field was $120,510 in 2020.

Oil, and Gas Extraction Industries

Oil and gas extraction sites need chemists for a number of processes. You could work as an on-site chemist, conducting demulsifier trials, sampling crude oil or refining gas. There are also job opportunities in research and development. As an R&D chemist, you would be responsible for product testing, working with experimental techniques and developing new product blends. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean wage for chemists in these industries was $100,920 in 2020.