Analytical Chemists apply chemical science to industrial processes. Research work ranges from bulk and fine chemicals to pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry.
Analytical Chemists work in a variety of roles including production and quality control. In many cases, they also work closely with chemical and control engineers.
Also known as
- Chemist, Industrial
Video: - Jennifer: Industrial Chemist
As an Analytical Chemist, you will be an expert in the properties and chemical structure of different materials. You might work in research and development or possibly production. Your role will be to create new materials, devise and control production processing methods, and ensure that the quality of products is maintained.
The chemical industry makes a huge amount of products. Most of the things that we use on a daily basis have some sort of chemical in them. For example, chemicals are used to manufacture cleaning products, food packaging, dyes and pesticides.
As an Analytical Chemist specialising in research and development work, you will do most of your work in the laboratory. You'll perform experiments to produce new materials that have particular properties. Then, the materials are made on a larger scale to see whether this can be done at a reasonable cost.
If you choose to become a Production Analytical Chemist, you will make sure that production processes run efficiently. For example, you might be involved in working out how to produce large amounts of material as cheaply as possible. You will also be responsible for safety, quality control and staff training. Analytical Chemists can also be employed in marketing and other management functions of industry.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become an Analytical Chemist, you should:
- have an interest in science, especially chemistry
- enjoy solving problems
- be a responsible person as you may have to make decisions that affect other people
- have good people skills and the ability to work well in a team
- be an accurate worker
- have good planning skills to cope with the varied and sometimes heavy workloads
The job might not be suitable for people who have skin conditions, such as eczema, or breathing complaints, such as asthma.
Pay and Opportunities
The pay rates given below are approximate. NHS employees are paid on a rising scale from the Agenda for Change.
- Starting: Band 6 pay of £28,050 - £36,644
- With experience: Band 7 pay of £33,222 - £43,041
- Senior Analytical Chemists earn Band 9 pay of £84,507 - £102,506
Hours of work
Analytical Chemists usually work around 35-39 hours, Monday to Friday.
Where could I work?
Employers include firms in the food and drink, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, research consultancies, government departments, educational establishments and the NHS.
Opportunities for Analytical Chemists occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).
Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.
Take a look at our General Information Article
Vacancies are also advertised in science magazines such as Chemistry World.
Entry Routes and Training
Most new entrants are graduates. The most common way to become an Analytical Chemist is by studying for a degree in a subject related to chemistry or applied chemistry.
There are a number of relevant HNCs, HNDs and foundation degrees available throughout the UK.
People with foundation degrees, HNCs or HNDs are usually employed in a supporting role and may have to take further qualifications before moving into management positions.
A Higher Level Apprenticeship is also a great place to start. Take a look at our information article
Many people going into this career have already had relevant work experience, summer placements or sandwich years as part of their degree courses. This type of experience is highly valued by employers.
A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article
Your training will be on-the-job.
Many Analytical Chemists also have postgraduate qualifications.
Progression is often into supervisory or managerial positions.
Chemistry is a large area so opportunities for progression are generally good.
Previous experience working as a Laboratory Technician in research and development would be really useful for this career.
For entry to a degree course in a relevant subject, the usual requirement is:
- 3 A levels, two of which should be in science subjects. One of the science passes should usually be in chemistry.
- GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in your A level subjects
- a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths
Other qualifications are often acceptable as alternatives to A levels, for example:
- BTEC level 3 qualification
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
There is quite a lot of variation across the UK regarding courses related to chemistry so it's important to check college/university websites carefully for the latest details. The above minimum requirements are to give a rough guide.
To get onto a Higher Level Apprenticeship, you will need at least two A Levels, or an Advanced Level Apprenticeship.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
Applicants need to have up-to-date scientific knowledge of research methods and technological developments.
Relevant skills gained in industrial work are valued by employers.
Working as a laboratory technician in research and development work, with part-time study, can lead to entry into scientific officer grades in certain circumstances.
If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course could be the way in. No formal qualifications are usually required, but you should check individual course details.
The Open University offers degrees relevant for those wishing to work in chemistry.
Financial support for postgraduate courses is available, through universities, from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Universities may be able to offer limited support for Masters courses, but most students are self-funded.
Publisher: Reed Business Information Ltd
Open University (OU)
Tel: 0845 3006090
Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)
Address: 7th floor, Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QT
Tel: 0870 8904333
Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) Scotland
Address: Crichton House, 4 Crichton's Close, Edinburgh EH8 8DT
Tel: 0131 5230493
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Address: Polaris House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1ET
Tel: 01793 444000
Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
Address: Thomas Graham House, Science Park, Milton Road, Cambridge CB4 0WF
Tel: 01223 420066