Gas Chromatographer: Employment & Career Info

Find out what a gas chromatographer does. Discover the education and training requirements for employment. See the job prospects for gas chromatographers and decide if this is the right job for you.

Career Defined for Gas Chromotagrapher

Gas chromatographers, also known as gas chromatograph technicians, analyze material samples by employing a process called gas chromatography, which is a specialization within chemical and materials science. They are often employed in public and private laboratories and work in fields as varied as forensics, energy, and national security. Common duties of gas chromatographers include carrying out sample analysis, documenting results, setting up, calibrating, and maintaining gas chromatograph machines, and other duties as assigned.

Education Bachelor's degree; some jobs require a more advanced degree
Required Skills Laboratory and math skills
Median Salary (2017)* $99,530 (material scientists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 7% (material scientists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required for a Career in Gas Chromatography

To become a gas chromatographer, you'll need a bachelor's degree or a more advanced degree in chemistry with real-life experience in the lab. Familiarity with scientific principles and procedures are also required for this career. Common courses in a four-year bachelor's program that will prepare you for a career in gas chromatography include general chemistry, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, quantitative analysis, mass spectrometry, and spectrochemical methods of analysis.

Required Skills

To become a gas chromatographer, you must have extensive laboratory and math skills. A thorough understanding of lab equipment and procedures is critical to a successful career in gas chromatography.

Employment and Economic Outlook

The employment outlook for chemists and materials scientists, which includes gas chromatographers, is projected to be average, at just 7%. The median annual earnings among materials scientists in May 2017 were $99,530; chemists were reported to earn a median of $74,740 in May 2017 by the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options within this field include:

Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers use their knowledge of chemistry and other natural sciences to solve production problems in manufacturing, food, energy, biotechnology, healthcare, and more. They do research in the lab and carry out tests to prove or disprove what they think will happen; they may also work on site to see and evaluate problems or solutions first-hand. Chemical engineers usually hold a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from an ABET-accredited program; some schools offer a five-year program that confers a bachelor's and a master's degree. Chemical engineers may qualify to sit for the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Professional Engineer (PE) exams to earn professional licensing. The BLS predicts that jobs for chemical engineers will increase 8% from 2016-2026. The agency also reports that chemical engineers earned median pay of $102,160 in 2017.

Food Scientist

Food scientists work to improve the ways that food is produced and processed. They may also research and develop new foods and explore foods' nutritional value. They may work in an office or lab and do fieldwork. Employers can include manufacturers and colleges or universities. Aspiring food scientists can enter the field with a bachelor's degree; professional certification is available, too. According to the BLS, agricultural and food scientist jobs are expected to grow 7% from 2016-2026, and food scientists and technologists earned a median salary of $62,910 in 2017.


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