Chemists: Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

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Job description

Chemists conduct qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses or experiments in laboratories for quality or process control or to develop new products or knowledge.

  • Analyze organic or inorganic compounds to determine chemical or physical properties, composition, structure, relationships, or reactions, using chromatography, spectroscopy, or spectrophotometry techniques.
  • Conduct quality control tests.
  • Maintain laboratory instruments to ensure proper working order and troubleshoot malfunctions when needed.
  • Prepare test solutions, compounds, or reagents for laboratory personnel to conduct tests.
Read more about what does a Chemist really do at work and what is it like being and working as one.

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Average salary
$83850 per year

Average hourly wage
$40 per hour

Chemists with little to no experience tend to make between $43920 and $56290 while the more experienced ones can earn over $103820 per year.

Top 5 paying states Hourly Annual
DC $58 $120,980
MD $56 $116,060
DE $51 $105,570
VA $47 $98,670
NJ $46 $96,100

One of the easiest ways to increase your salary as a Chemist is to move to a higher paying state like DC. Right now, the highest paying states for Chemists are DC, MD, DE, VA and NJ.

However, a higher pay at DC doesn’t guarantee that you will make more because the living expenses at DC might be twice as high than where you are currently at now.

Three other factors that can increase your salary as a Chemist is the degree you hold, the industry you work in, and lastly the company you work for.


Recommended degree level
Bachelor’s Degree

We asked other Chemists what degree they had when they got the job and most of them said they had a Bachelor’s Degree followed by a Master’s Degree.

Other than that, we also asked them what did they major in and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Chemistry, General
Analytical Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
Physical Chemistry
Read more about how to become a Chemist and the degree, training and education you need.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of being a Chemist.

Suitable for people who likes to solve problems mentally
Suitable for people who values achievements and are results-oriented
This career is perfect for people who love to work indoors.
Very high salary (top 25% highest paid careers)
Not suitable for people who likes to help and teach others
It is hard to get into this career. A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.

What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Is this job meaningful

58% of Chemists said they were satisfied with their job and 50% said they feel like their job is making other people’s lives better.

Is this right for me

Best personality for this career
The Thinkers and The Builders

You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tends to like working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally..

They also like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery.

Learn more about Chemists

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