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What Does an Industrial Chemist Do?

By M. Kayo
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Through quantitative and qualitative analysis, an industrial chemist studies physical and chemical properties to determine the composition of various organic and inorganic substances. This information is then used to create new substances and products for all types of industry. Depending upon their level of education, this chemist may conduct research, teach, or work in a lab for a company or other organization. One of the responsibilities of an industrial chemist may include experimentation to identify the composition of various types of chemicals and chemical compounds. Sharing specialized knowledge, new product development and market research may also be a part of the industrial chemist's duties.

Some industrial chemists have a doctoral degree in chemistry and may be sought out by colleges and universities to serve as professors and conduct laboratory research. Analyzing compounds and substances to find their precise chemical or physical properties is one of the fundamental responsibilities of the chemist. To conduct these highly technical tests and produce an accurate chemical analysis, this type of chemist uses equipment such as a chromatograph, spectroscope, and spectrophotometer. Industrial chemists with a bachelor's or master's degree are typically hired as research assistants or lab technicians. Those chemists with a master's degree may teach at the high school level or work in a technical library.

The chemist may also develop or improve products, formulas, analytical methods, and processes. Some industrial chemists work to improve product efficiency or to create better building materials, plastics, textiles, or petroleum products. They may help to set new industry standards, improve production techniques, and increase the effectiveness of various chemical processes.

Some chemists work as customer relations specialists and may work in sales and marketing departments of large companies or organizations. Some of these chemists may also work in technical support positions using their technical knowledge of chemical processes to assist clients and to explain any possible reactions or behaviors of a particular product. An industrial chemist may also be responsible for providing product quality control testing in various manufacturing processes. Educational requirements for these positions often require a master's in business administration or previous business experience in addition to any other academic degrees in chemistry.

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Discussion Comments

By Melonlity — On Mar 10, 2014

An industrial chemist can make a ton of cash, provided that the company he or she works for lets him share in the revenue from new products. There are times when an industrial chemist will come up with something completely new and valuable, but that work belongs to the company. The company gets the patent and the revenue, the chemist gets a pat on the back and the opportunity to keep his job. Wow.

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