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What Chemical Technicians Do About this section

Chemical technicians
Chemical technicians monitor and adjust processing equipment at manufacturing facilities.

Chemical technicians use laboratory instruments and techniques to help scientists analyze the properties of materials.

Duties

Chemical technicians typically do the following:

  • Monitor chemical processes and test product quality to make sure that they meet standards and specifications
  • Set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment
  • Maintain production equipment and troubleshoot problems
  • 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 and present reports, graphs, and charts that summarize their results

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.

Other chemical technicians work in manufacturing, where they may assist in monitoring quality, maintaining equipment, and improving production processes.

Typically, chemists or chemical engineers direct chemical technicians’ work and evaluate their results. Most technicians work on teams, but they also may be required to work independently on projects. Experienced technicians may serve as mentors to technicians who are new to a lab or to a specific area of research.

Work Environment About this section

Chemical technicians
Chemical technicians typically work in laboratories or in industrial facilities.

Chemical technicians held about 65,100 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of chemical technicians were as follows:

Testing laboratories 17%
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing 9
Wholesale trade 4
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 3

Chemical technicians often work in laboratories or in manufacturing facilities. Chemical manufacturing plants make a variety of products, such as fertilizers, medicines, and soaps.

Injuries and Illnesses

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

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 work irregular schedules to monitor laboratory experiments or manufacturing operations.

How to Become a Chemical Technician About this section

Chemical technicians
Laboratory experience provides students with hands-on experience in using various instruments and techniques properly.

To enter the occupation, chemical technicians typically need an associate’s degree or 2 years of postsecondary education. Some positions require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree; others require a high school diploma. Most chemical technicians receive on-the-job training.

Education

Chemical technicians typically need an associate's degree or 2 years of postsecondary education in applied science or chemical technology. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor's degree in those or related fields, such as biology or physical science. Other employers may consider candidates who have a high school diploma.

Technical and community college programs in applied sciences or chemical technology typically include courses in math, physics, and biology in addition to chemistry. Coursework in statistics and computer science is also useful for learning data analysis and modeling.

Courses that include a laboratory component provide students with hands-on practice in conducting experiments and proper use of instruments and techniques. Participating in internships and cooperative-education programs while attending school helps students gain experience.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Chemical technicians must be methodical in conducting scientific experiments and interpreting data.

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

Detail oriented. Chemical technicians need to set up, operate, and maintain precision laboratory equipment and instruments. They also must keep meticulous records of their experiments, observations, and results.

Interpersonal skills. Chemical technicians must work well as part of a team that often includes scientists, engineers, and other technicians.

Training

Chemical technicians typically receive on-the-job training from experienced technicians, who explain 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 by industry.

Advancement

Technicians who have a bachelor’s degree may advance to become chemical engineers or chemists.

Pay About this section

Chemical Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2021

Chemical technicians

$48,990

Life, physical, and social science technicians

$48,370

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for chemical technicians was $48,990 in May 2021. 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 $31,980, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,570.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for chemical technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private $49,050
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing 48,670
Wholesale trade 47,860
Testing laboratories 39,410

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

Job Outlook About this section

Chemical Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Total, all occupations

8%

Life, physical, and social science technicians

7%

Chemical technicians

5%

 

Employment of chemical technicians is projected to grow 5 percent from 2020 to 2030, slower than the average for all occupations.

Despite limited employment growth, about 7,500 openings for chemical technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Chemical technicians will continue to be in demand in testing laboratories to test new materials and products developed by chemists and chemical engineers. They will also be needed 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, is expected to increase the demand for chemistry R&D.

Employment projections data for chemical technicians, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Chemical technicians

19-4031 65,100 68,400 5 3,300 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about chemical technicians, visit

American Chemical Society

American Chemistry Council

O*NET

Chemical Technicians

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