Analytical Chemistry

Analytical chemistry is a sub-discipline of chemistry that involves using instruments and techniques to identify the chemical components in a specimen. Read about degree programs, employment outlook and salary figures for this field.

Is Analytical Chemistry for Me?

Career Overview

Analytical chemistry is a branch of chemistry that involves determining the components and their amounts in a mixture, sample or specimen. Analytical chemistry is divided into qualitative analysis, non-measurable properties or characteristics of a sample and quantitative analysis, measurable or quantifiable data. Analytical chemists use various methods, such as chromatography, spectroscopy, electrochemistry and titrimetry, to investigate a sample.

Analytical chemists spend most of their time in a lab, performing and interpreting analysis and supervising other chemists. They start the analysis by determining how to properly sample and prepare the specimen. They then choose a method or instrument to perform the analysis. The final step is to write up a report of the results.


Analytical chemists may work for forensic or industrial labs, colleges, universities, the government, pharmaceutical firms or environmental companies. You may also work designing quality assurance procedures or inventing analysis procedures. You may find work as a research chemist, high school or community college teacher, college or university researcher or professor, government regulatory chemist or scientific writer.

Employment Information

Most analytical chemists made from $34,082-$79,842, with bonuses and profit sharing included. Salary data is from as reported in March of 2014. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all type of chemists should see employment growth of 6% during the 2012-2022 decade. Research and development firms employ the highest percentage of these professionals.

How Can I Become an Analytical Chemist?

Undergraduate Education

To become an analytical chemist, you need at least a bachelor's degree in chemistry. You take courses in physical, organic, inorganic and analytical chemistry. A program may offer concentrations in chemical physics or industrial chemistry, which have a strong analytical component.

Graduate Programs

At the graduate level, you may enroll in a master's degree in chemistry concentrating in analytical chemistry. Courses for this specialization include reaction mechanism, structural analysis, instrumental analysis and computational chemistry. If you are interested in a career in academia or industrial research, you may enroll in a Ph.D. in Chemistry with a concentration in analytical chemistry. Courses for a Ph.D. range from mass spectrometry, electrochemistry and electroanalytical chemistry to computational chemistry and statistics.

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