A chemical technician has three areas of responsibility: processing chemicals, completing orders and writing reports. This position can be found in a wide range of industries, from pharmaceuticals to manufacturing. Typically, a chemical technician uses specialized equipment and has experience processing chemicals. Most chemical technicians specialize in a specific industry or type of technology, both to provide a higher level of quality service and to focus their career on a specific area.
Regardless of the industry, the chemical technician is responsible for following all safety and testing protocols. Most companies hire dedicated chemical technicians to fill these positions on their staffs. The vast majority of chemical technicians are responsible for processing chemicals. This can include combining different chemicals together or separating them through a variety of methods.
The primary role of the chemical technician is to complete chemical orders. The level of work can vary significantly, ranging from a complex processing request to a simple distillation job requiring several hours of work. The orders are received, prioritized and then processed.
Chemical technicians are required to write reports as part of their work. They don't normally conduct chemical analysis, but they will need to document the process used, the values recorded at different stages and any issues with the batch. This information is very valuable and is reviewed to maintain quality control.
Career advancement opportunities for a chemical technician typically come with a combination of additional education and experience. In a laboratory, the supervisor or managerial positions are usually held by processing chemists or chemical engineers. With a great deal of experience, however, candidates who have completed courses in management or advanced processing techniques can move into senior technician or technical adviser positions.
People who enjoy working with details, are good problem solvers and possess excellent research skills report the greatest satisfaction as chemical technicians. Chemical technicians typically work in laboratories and do not have much involvement with clients. Their primary focus is to complete the request received and ensure proper procedure is followed.
To become a chemical technician, a person typically must complete a post-secondary education. Most technicians have completed two- or three-year programs from community colleges or career colleges. The primary focus of these programs is on actual laboratory processes and methodologies. In the last year of these programs, students can specialize in specific areas or industries.