Chemical Technology

Chemical technicians assist in the research of chemical products and reactions in the environment. Read on to see the wide variety of job opportunities in this field as well as education requirements, career outlook and salary prospects.

Is Chemical Technology for Me?

Career Overview

Chemical technicians are specially trained professionals who assist chemists, engineers and scientists at labs and industrial sites. Chemical technicians operate sophisticated equipment and perform experiments. Your job duties might include doing scientific research, developing commercial products or monitoring pollution in the environment. You could perform lab procedures and present your results and analyses in reports.

Job Options

Chemical technicians typically specialize as lab technicians or process control technicians. As a lab technician, you might assist with experiments or study pollutants by testing water and air samples. As a processing technician, you might test products for quality or examine production procedures and machinery for efficiency at chemical production plants and other industrial facilities.

Many chemical technicians work in chemical and drug production or at research labs. Oil companies, government agencies, paint manufacturers and medical facilities also hire chemical technicians. You might find employment in industries that involve biotechnology, food and cosmetics.

Salary and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most chemical technicians earned between $26,220 and $70,710 as of 2012 (www.bls.gov). The BLS said there were approximately 61,000 chemical technicians working in the United States as of 2012.

The BLS anticipated that job opportunities for chemical technicians will rise by 9% between 2012 and 2022. Despite this projected growth for the entire profession, the BLS predicted that drug and chemical makers might actually hire fewer chemical technicians due to outsourcing some tasks to specialized companies, as well as shifting more manufacturing to foreign nations. You'll boost your chances of getting hired as a chemical technician if you have a degree, strong technical expertise and familiarity with lab and manufacturing instruments.

How Can I Work in Chemical Technology?

Education and Training Requirements

You can choose between two common paths to qualify for the majority of chemical technician jobs. You may earn an associate's degree in chemical technology or applied science. Your other option is getting two years of special post-secondary training. You'll typically get some on-the job training when you're first hired.

Associate Degrees

Degree programs in chemical technology may include classroom studies coupled with laboratory experience. Your coursework might include lab safety practices, instrumental techniques, chemistry topics and quantitative analysis, as well as algebra, physics and computer science.

Some associate's degree programs in chemical technology offer a forensic lab technician concentration. This concentration may qualify you to work in chemical analysis at law enforcement labs and morgues.

Additional Undergraduate Programs

You could use your associate's degree in chemical technology to lay the groundwork toward a bachelor's degree in chemistry. You might get promoted to chemist or chemical engineer if you earn a bachelor's degree.

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