Chemical Technician Job Description
Chemical technicians help engineers and scientists develop, test, and research chemical processes and products.
In most cases, chemical engineers work under the supervision of a chemical engineer or chemist. They can work on many different types of projects, depending on the industry they work in. For example, some technicians work on developing efficient chemical production processes, while others help to develop new medicines.
There are two primary types of chemical technicians:
Processing technicians work in chemical manufacturing facilities, where they monitor chemical processes and make adjustments as necessary. They typically perform quality control functions, like taking samples from batches of chemicals and testing them for defects or impurities. If defects are found, they may be able to fix the problem themselves, or they may need to get the help of a chemist.
Laboratory technicians help scientists perform experiments and analyze data. They prepare solutions, setup laboratory equipment, perform basic chemical analysis, and do many other tasks that help chemists do their day to day jobs.
Work Environment and Schedule
The majority of chemical technicians work in laboratories, but many are also employed in manufacturing facilities.
Because many chemical technicians work with hazardous chemicals, they can be exposed to health risks. Taking the proper safety precautions can minimize the risks, though. On the whole, this isn’t a very dangerous occupation, as long as the work is performed safely.
Most chemical engineers work full time, but the working schedule varies depending on the type of work performed.
Laboratory technicians are often able to maintain regular working schedules. But since manufacturing facilities are open around the clock, processing technicians often have to work nights, weekends, and holidays.
How to Become a Chemical Technician
To become a chemical technician, you will need to have a minimum of an associate’s degree in chemical technology or applied science. These programs are offered by many community colleges and technical schools, and normally include courses in physics, biology, chemistry, and mathematics.
If you’re able, you should also try and take some classes in statistics and computer science. Knowing how to use statistical software can help when it comes to data modeling and statistical analysis.
Once hired, chemical technicians are provided with on the job training. During the training process, they normally work under the supervision of a more experienced technician while they learn how to conduct experiments and operate equipment.
Though an associate’s degree is all that’s required to get an entry level job in this occupation, you should strongly consider getting a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Without a bachelor’s degree, your opportunities for advancement will be severely limited.
Many technicians earn their associate’s degree first, and then work towards their bachelor’s at night while they work as a chemical technician during the day. If you plan to do this, make sure that you earn your associate’s from an accredited program. If it isn’t accredited, your credits won’t transfer to a four year university.
There are currently 61,000 chemical technicians in the United States, with 1,290 new chemical technician job openings created each year.
Chemical Technician jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Chemical Technician Salaries
Chemical Technician salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most chemical technicians make between $32,600 – $55,000 per year, or $15.66 – $26.43 per hour.