Chemical Technician: Employment Info & Requirements

Explore the job responsibilities of a chemical technician. Learn about educational prerequisites, needed skills, job outlook and salary data to make the right career decision.

Career Definition for a Chemical Technician

A chemical technician might work with agricultural products, pharmaceuticals or industrial chemicals to develop new products or to research methods that make working with and disposing of chemicals safer for everyone. Chemical technicians work in a variety of environments and are employed by public and private industries, local, state and federal governments, colleges and universities. Whether they are working in biotechnology or developing new consumer products, chemical technicians are problem solvers with the ability to consider many solutions to the same dilemma.

Education Associate's degree in applied science or chemical technology
Job Skills Self-directed and good team member, able to use scientific methods and explain procedures, listen to ideas of others, have good writing and verbal communication skills
Median Salary (2015)* $44,660 (for chemical technicians)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% (for chemical technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

While it was once common for those beginning a career in chemical technology to be hired with only a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training, a 2-year degree in applied science or chemical technology is becoming the standard requirement for many employers. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that of those holding a degree, those who are well trained in the use of laboratory equipment will have the best job opportunities. With or without a degree, strong math, science and laboratory skills will be necessary for a successful career in chemical technology.

Skills Required

Chemical technicians need to be both self-directed and good team members. They should enjoy applying scientific methods to solve problems and be open to listening to the ideas of others. Also, a chemical technician must be clear in both written and verbal communication and be capable of explaining procedures to those who lack a scientific background.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth of 2% for chemical technicians from 2014-2024. This is largely due to company downsizing and the outsourcing of contracts. In May 2015, the BLS reported that the median salary for a chemical technician was $44,660.

Alternative Careers

Careers that are similar to a chemical technician include:

Biological Technician

For individuals more interested in biological research and experiments than chemistry, becoming a biological technician should be considered. A biological technician sets up experiments that may involve bacteria, food, blood, and water samples. He or she also writes detailed reports of observations and results, maintains equipment, assists scientists and collects samples.

Earning a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field is required, and coursework should include laboratory experience. The BLS predicts that employment in this profession will grow by 5% between 2014 and 2024, and it estimated the median yearly salary of biological technicians was $41,650 in 2015.

Chemical Engineer

If developing new methods and processes for evaluating chemicals sounds interesting, a career in chemical engineering could be a good fit. Chemical engineers evaluate current equipment, procedures and manufacturing techniques to identify areas of improvement. They put together safety practices, locate manufacturing problems, run tests and conduct other research in the production of food, drugs and chemical products.

To work in the field, a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering is a must, and licensing may be beneficial for career advancement. Slower than average employment growth of 2% is projected by the BLS during the 2014-2024 decade because of decreased manufacturing activities. Based on BLS figures from May of 2015, chemical engineers received a median salary of $97,360.

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