A chemical technician helps scientists and engineers conduct laboratory tests on new products, procedures, standards and materials. With an associate's degree, a chemical technician may be assigned to project tasks, including data collection, quality control, field sampling, equipment operation, equipment installation and chemical preparation. Bachelor's degree programs are also available, in which students will have the opportunity to pursue advanced study in the field of chemical technology or chemistry.
Associate Degree in Chemical Technology
The Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) is the most common degree held by chemical technicians working in the field. Many community colleges offer an A.A.S. in chemical technology, which can be completed in two years of full-time study. Chemical technicians with an associate's degree are usually responsible for process control in industrial or manufacturing plants. The course load for a chemical technician career is heavy in math and the sciences, with classes that typically include the following:
- General and organic chemistry
- Calculus, trigonometry and algebra
- Chemical analysis
- Modern instrumentation
Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Technology
The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Chemistry or Chemical Technology can be considered a highly developed degree for chemical technicians working in the field. Students who pursue the 4-year B.S. degree may eventually focus on a concentration in the field of chemical technology. Students applying to a four-year program in chemistry or chemical technology are required to have experience in the field or a solid education in disciplines including calculus, chemistry and trigonometry. Applicants may also be required to take a placement exam. There are high-level science and related courses that are part of the third and fourth year studies leading to a bachelor's degree, such as:
- Biochemistry and forensic chemistry
- Chemical engineering
- Patents and ethics
- Pharmacology and toxicology
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' report in 2015, the mean annual wage for chemical technicians was $48,730 (http://www.bls.gov). Depending on the state in which the chemical technician works, the wages may be higher or lower; the highest-paying states in 2015 included North Dakota and New Jersey.
Chemical technicians wanting to advance from process control to laboratory research may pursue a bachelor's degree in chemistry or chemical technology. The bachelor's degree may open doors for advanced projects and higher pay.
Chemical technicians who pursue a master's or doctoral level degree are likely planning to transition from technician to engineer, scientist or administrator. Advanced degrees in chemical technology are uncommon.
An associate's degree in chemical technology will prepare students to perform various laboratory works, such as testing new products, data collection, quality control, etc. A bachelor's degree in chemical technology or chemistry will provide further study in the field.