A quality control chemist is one specialization available for laboratory chemists. These professionals focus on testing a substance for compliance to standards and requirements. An undergraduate degree is required, and specialization programs are also available.
A QC chemist, or quality control chemist, utilizes chemistry lab skills to test and measure materials, generally in a manufacturing or pharmaceutical field. As someone whose work is generally part of a team effort, a QC chemist ensures that experiments are completed according to established Standard Operating Practices (SOP), Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) or Good Clinical Practices (GCP), as well as any applicable federal regulations or industry standards. Some QC chemists also validate instrumentation and experiments. A candidate needs to hold a chemistry bachelor's degree to become a QC chemist.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in chemistry or a related field; certificates in quality assurance available for specialization|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||3% (all chemists)|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$71,260 (all chemists)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Quality control chemists prepare and test samples from all phases of a manufacturing or other handling process, with the goal of determining if the substance meets the standards or requirements of the project. They employ a variety of methods that can vary from industry to industry but generally require basic lab-work skills and thorough understanding of chemical testing equipment and processes. They prepare documents that report the results of their lab work. They may also be responsible for minor equipment troubleshooting and repair. QC chemists have a role in preserving workplace safety and safe materials handling as appropriate, since they sometimes work with hazardous materials.
QC chemists may need to have a bachelor's degree in chemistry or a closely related field like biology or biochemistry. In earning their degrees, these students will develop the necessary laboratory skills for fulfilling the duties required of a QC chemist. In their lab courses, students learn how to safely perform analytical chemistry, biochemistry, instrumental analysis and physical chemistry work. Some colleges or universities offer a specialized curriculum track that confers a certificate from the American Chemical Society (ACS) in conjunction with the bachelor's degree that acknowledges the completion of an ACS-approved program.
Postbaccalaureate training or continuing education options include certificate programs in quality assurance and control or a similar field. Specialized topics of study related to performing QC chemistry are generally covered, such as regulatory compliance issues in the pharmaceutical industry. These programs are typically intended for students who already have a basic understanding of chemistry.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for chemists and materials scientists are projected to increase slower than average, at three percent between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). Based on reports from May of 2015, the BLS estimated that the median salary for chemists was $71,260.
QC chemists usually work for the manufacturing or pharmaceutical industries, where strict regulations cover substances and ingredients. They specialize in testing substance for adherence to industry-specific principles and requirements. QC chemists earn these laboratory skills through an undergraduate degree program as well as additional training in quality control.