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Chemistry Lab Technician: Job Description, Duties and Salary

A chemistry lab technician requires little formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Chemistry lab technicians are responsible for a wide variety of tasks as they help chemists in the lab. You'll need an associate's degree in a relevant field and will receive further training once you obtain a job. Read on for information on job growth prospects, average pay and job duties.

Essential Information

Chemistry lab technicians generally work in laboratory settings or production facilities, although they may leave these settings to take samples as required. Working in a lab environment, they may be consistently in contact with various chemicals. They usually work 40-hour weeks, though they may be required to work overtime during specific phases of experiments. To get started in this career, an associate's degree is typically required.

Required Education Associate's degree in applied science or chemical technology
Additional Requirements On-the-job training is usually required
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 2%*
Mean Annual Wage (2015) $48,730*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

Chemistry lab technicians assist chemists in their lab work. As time progresses, lab technicians are completing a greater number of tasks that previously would have been performed by highly trained chemists. Technicians are responsible for monitoring chemical processes and testing products as part of quality assurance. Under the supervision of chemists and other team members, they perform repetitive lab activities, such as setting up lab equipment and preparing chemical solutions. They also conduct tests, interpret and analyze data, compile results, prepare reports, and present their conclusions.

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Salary Information and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), chemical technicians earned a mean annual wage of $48,730 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). Most technicians are paid on an hourly basis, and their mean hourly wage was $23.43 in 2015. Growth in the job field was expected to increase by 2% from 2014-2024, which is slower than average. The reduction in pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing and the overseas outsourcing of production were expected to work against U.S. growth in this field.

Education Requirements

Becoming a chemistry lab technician usually requires an associate's degree in chemical technology or applied science. In an associate's degree program, students study chemistry, physics, mathematics, and other natural sciences. They may also benefit from education in computer science and statistics because these subjects use modeling and data analysis. In preparation for this career, students also work in lab settings to develop the necessary skills for handling equipment and instrumentation. Chemistry lab technicians who continue on to earn a bachelor's degree could become chemists or chemical engineers.

Most of the work of a chemistry lab technician is performed in the lab, though obtaining samples may require fieldwork. Parts of the job can be repetitive, involving a lot of equipment setup and preparation. An associate's degree, well-developed technical skills and hands-on experience in a lab are essential when seeking a job in this competitive field.

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