Chemical Technician Training and Course Information
Chemical technicians perform research and/or develop products in laboratory settings. These workers require a strong education in chemical analysis, as well as in organic and inorganic chemistry. Continue reading to discover what types of courses and training are available for aspiring chemical technicians.
Certificate and associate degree programs in chemical technology are readily available at U.S. colleges and universities. In addition to traditional coursework, these programs typically include a large amount of hands-on lab work. Depending on the school and student, these programs generally take 1-2 years to complete.
List of Common Courses
The following descriptions summarize some common types of chemical technology courses.
Comprehensive Chemistry Course
Chemistry is the foundation for work as a chemical technician and may be covered in a series of classes. The periodic table introduces the subject, followed by detailed studies on the structure of atoms and the nature of chemical bonds and reactions. Learning the properties of inorganic solids, liquids and gases provides a transition into lab work, where both quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques are explored. Students experiment with acids and bases, pH, metals and aqueous solutions in order to understand equilibrium and other states of matter.
Applications in Organic Chemistry Course
Carbon-based or organic, compounds are not only part of many products such as drugs and plastics, but are the basis of living organisms. This course focuses on analyzing the structure of carbon-based molecules through lab work that employs gas chromatography, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and other techniques. Students also practice methods for synthesizing organic compounds.
Chemical Technology Training Course
Once students have gained an understanding of inorganic and organic chemistry, they can begin to apply their knowledge to learning the methods used in chemical analysis. Among these are spectroscopy, gas chromatography and electrophoresis. Students must learn to use the instruments involved, as well as practice precision measurements and data recording. Lab safety is emphasized. Ethical issues, such as disposal of chemical waste, may be discussed.
Instrument Analysis Course
Chemical technicians regularly use sophisticated, complex instruments for their analyses. In this course, learners explore different types of instruments including chromatographic, electrochemical and spectrometric. Quantitative and qualitative experimental methods are applied to demonstrate the uses of each. Learners also explore how each instrument functions, along with basic repair and troubleshooting skills.
Basic microbiology focuses on the structure and life cycle of microorganisms including genetics, reproduction and ecosystems. Students explore methods for maintaining and preserving microbial colonies, in addition to lab procedures that include sterilization, culture medium preparation and staining. Some courses provide education on microorganisms that cause human infectious diseases such as specific viruses, fungi and bacteria.
The principles of physics are used in chemical technology, and may be included within chemistry classes or taught separately. Concepts include electricity and magnetism, thermodynamics and wave theory, as well as gravitation and optics. Lab work focuses on accuracy of observation and data collection. Calculus may be a prerequisite for some physics courses.
Chemical Technician Training Programs
Certificates and associate degrees are the most common credentials needed for employment as a chemical technician; however, some employers may require a bachelor's degree. Programs for each include classroom learning in organic, analytic and general chemistry, but focus on practical application through laboratory work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it is helpful to have a background in math and science before entering a chemical technician program.
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