Chemical Technicians

Career, Salary and Education Information

Top 3 Chemical Technician Jobs

  • Environmental Compliance Technician - H&K Group - Skippack, PA

    The EHS Technician will: • Assist in the development, collection and maintenance of safety data sheets (SDS) for all products, materials and

  • Environmental Technician - Environmental Staffing Resources - Indianapolis, IN

    Working with chemicals will require use of PPE including respirators (OSHA requires must be clean shaven). Drug free work

  • Lab Technician - NOHMs Technologies Inc. - Rochester, NY

    NOHMs Technologies Inc. in seeking an entry-level, scientific laboratory technician who

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What Chemical Technicians Do[About this section] [To Top]

Chemical technicians use laboratory instruments and techniques to help chemists and chemical engineers research, develop, produce, and test chemical products and processes.

Duties of Chemical Technicians

Chemical technicians typically do the following:

  • Monitor chemical processes and test the quality of products to make sure that they meet standards and specifications
  • Set up and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment
  • Troubleshoot production problems or malfunctioning instruments
  • Prepare chemical solutions
  • Conduct, compile, and interpret results of chemical and physical experiments, tests, and analyses for a variety of purposes, including research and development
  • Prepare technical reports, graphs, and charts, and give presentations that summarize their results

Most chemical technicians work on teams. Typically, they are led by chemists or chemical engineers who direct their work and evaluate their results. However, they may serve as mentors to chemists who are new to a lab or to a specialized area of research.

Technicians who work in laboratories may help conduct experiments that contribute to research and development. For example, some chemical technicians help chemists and other scientists develop new medicines. In this way, chemical technicians often bridge the gap in knowledge remaining when a chemist moves on to a new assignment.

Other chemical technicians work in manufacturing and assist in developing more efficient production processes.

Work Environment for Chemical Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

Chemical technicians hold about 67,300 jobs. The largest employers of chemical technicians are as follows:

Testing laboratories 19%
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 10
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing 10
Basic chemical manufacturing 8
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 5

Chemical technicians typically work in laboratories or in industrial facilities such as chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing plants.

Injuries and Illnesses for Chemical Technicians

Chemical technicians can be exposed to health or safety hazards when handling certain chemicals and plant equipment, but there is little risk if proper procedures are followed.

Chemical Technician Work Schedules

Most technicians work full time. Occasionally, they may have to work additional hours to meet project deadlines or troubleshoot problems with manufacturing processes. Some may work irregular hours to monitor laboratory experiments or plant operations.

How to Become a Chemical Technician[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Chemical Technicians near you!

Chemical technicians need an associate's degree or 2 years of postsecondary education for most jobs. Most chemical technicians also receive on-the-job training.

Education for Chemical Technicians

For most jobs, chemical technicians need an associate's degree in applied science or chemical technology or 2 years of postsecondary education.

Many technical and community colleges offer programs in applied sciences or chemical technology. Students typically take classes in math, physics, and biology, in addition to chemistry courses. Coursework in statistics and computer science is also useful because technicians routinely do data analysis and modeling.

One of the most important aspects of any degree program is laboratory time because it provides students with hands-on practice in conducting experiments and using various instruments and techniques properly. Many schools also offer internships and cooperative-education programs that help students gain employment experience while attending school.

Important Qualities for Chemical Technicians

Ability to use technology. Chemical technicians must set up, operate, troubleshoot, and repair sophisticated equipment and instruments. They also may need to adjust the equipment to ensure that experiments and processes are running properly and safely.

Analytical skills. Chemical technicians must conduct scientific experiments with accuracy and precision.

Communication skills. Chemical technicians must explain their work to scientists and engineers, and to workers who may not have a technical background. They often write reports to communicate their results.

Critical-thinking skills. Chemical technicians reach their conclusions through sound reasoning and judgment.

Interpersonal skills. Chemical technicians must work well with others as part of a team because they often work with scientists, engineers, and other technicians.

Observation skills. Chemical technicians must carefully monitor chemical experiments and processes to note any unusual or unexpected results observed during an experiment. They must keep complete records of their work, including conditions and procedures.

Time-management skills. Chemical technicians often work on multiple tasks and projects at the same time and must prioritize their assignments.

Chemical Technician Training

Most chemical technicians receive on-the-job training. Typically, experienced technicians teach new employees proper methods and procedures for conducting experiments and operating equipment. The length of training varies with the new employee's level of experience and education, and the industry the worker is employed in.

Advancement for Chemical Technicians

Technicians who have a bachelor's degree may advance to positions as chemical engineers or chemists.

Chemical Technician Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for chemical technicians is $45,840. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,730, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,930.

The median annual wages for chemical technicians in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences $53,400
Basic chemical manufacturing 52,820
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing 44,640
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 43,960
Testing laboratories 37,560

Most technicians work full time. Occasionally, they may have to work additional hours to meet project deadlines or troubleshoot problems with manufacturing processes. Some may work irregular hours to monitor laboratory experiments or plant operations.

Job Outlook for Chemical Technicians[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of chemical technicians is projected to grow 4 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations. Many chemical technicians are employed in manufacturing industries that are projected to decline.

However, chemical technicians will continue to be in demand in scientific research and development (R&D) and to monitor the quality of chemical products and processes. Greater interest in environmental issues, such as pollution control, clean energy, and sustainability, are expected to increase the demand for chemistry R&D. They will also be needed in testing laboratories to test new materials and products developed by chemists and chemical engineers.

Job Prospects for Chemical Technicians

As the instrumentation and techniques used in research, development, and production become more complex, employers will seek candidates with highly developed technical skills. Job opportunities are expected to be best for graduates of applied science technology programs who are well trained in the latest technology and sophisticated equipment used in laboratories or production facilities.

Employment projections data for Chemical Technicians, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Chemical technicians 67,300 69,900 4 2,700

*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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