Chemical technicians conduct laboratory tests and experiments to analyse solids, liquids and gases for research and development purposes. They assist chemists and chemical engineers in developing products for a variety of industries, including paint, solvents, medicines and food additives. They also help assess and improve existing manufacturing processes. Chemical technicians maintain lab equipment, prepare technical reports and present findings to their colleagues and employers.
Duties and responsibilities
- Clean, sterilise, set up and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment
- Prepare chemical solutions for product creation, manufacturing processes or experiments
- Conduct tests to assist chemists and chemical engineers analysing solids, liquids and gases
- Use chromatography, chemical separation and other techniques to conduct experiments for R&D
- Compile and interpret results of tests and experiments
- Prepare technical reports and visuals to document results and present to colleagues and employers
- Monitor product quality and lab procedures; ensure they comply with standards and safety regulations
- Develop safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly processes for production
- Provide technical assistance to chemists and chemical engineers
- Troubleshoot problems with chemical processes in manufacturing
- Train new staff on equipment and procedures
- Brief new scientists on all data and status of experiments and projects
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Chemical technicians usually work a standard 40–hour workweek. Some overtime may be necessary to meet deadlines or if an unexpected problem needs troubleshooting.
Technicians typically work in laboratories, both corporate and academic, or manufacturing plants. Exposure to contaminants as well as physical and health hazards is possible, but risks are minimal when proper safety procedures are followed. This often requires wearing protective equipment, including safety glasses, gloves and hardhats.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Associate's degree in applied science
Employers usually prefer chemical technicians who have an associate's degree in applied science or chemical technology. Two years of coursework in chemistry, biology, math, physics and laboratory experience is required, with or without a degree. Additional statistics and computer science classes can also set you ahead of other job candidates.
Look into internship and cooperative programmes with area businesses to help you gain valuable hands-on lab experience while attending school. Once employed as a chemical technician, you will receive on-the-job training from an experienced tech or scientist on lab, safety and documentation procedures.
Chemical technicians can specialise in certain industries such as food or pharmaceutical. Every job then adds relevant experience for more challenging and lucrative roles in larger companies.
Experience as a chemical technician, combined with a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject, allows you to advance to a career as a chemist or chemical engineer.