How to Become a Pulp and Paper Chemist


How to Become a Pulp and Paper Chemist: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a pulp and paper chemist, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. Does the following description sound like you? If yes, then you’re probably well suited for a career in pulp and paper chemistry:


Those who become pulp and paper chemists tend to have a natural aptitude in engineering, as well as physical and process chemistry.


In order to become a pulp and paper chemist, you need to have the ability to work within stringent environmental regulations; a task that can be made easier if you have a natural interest in protecting the environment.


If you want to become a pulp and paper chemist, you must be comfortable working in a laboratory setting, and you should be comfortable working with professionals from other disciplines, and sharing your opinions and findings with them.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a pulp and paper chemist. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Pulp and Paper Chemist

As paper-making is a complex process, knowledge in areas such as chemistry, chemical engineering, materials engineering, and microbiology is important for becoming a pulp and paper chemist, as is being able to think about these areas in an integrated manner.


An undergraduate degree in chemistry or chemical engineering can offer a solid foundation for becoming a pulp and paper chemist. An undergraduate degree in one of these areas is also typically the minimum requirement to get an entry-level job in pulp and paper chemistry, such as Research Assistant or Lab Technician.


If you want to become a pulp and paper chemist that completes your own research projects, directs others in applied research, you will likely need a master’s degree in chemistry or a closely related field such as biochemistry or chemical engineering.


Some employers may require you to have a Ph.D. in an area related to pulp and paper chemistry in order to be hired as a pulp and paper chemist.


As pulp and paper chemists can also work outside of a laboratory, pursuing education in other areas in compliment to your chemistry education can also prove valuable if you want to become a pulp and paper chemist.


For example, having an educational background in marketing can be of great use if you wish to work in technical sales or marketing for a paper chemical producer. 




Pulp and Paper Chemist Job Description

Pulp and paper chemists are responsible for improving the efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of the industrial paper making process. They are also concerned with improving the quality of the paper products produced by manufacturers. Pulp and paper chemists may also work outside of the laboratory; they may be involved in technical sales and marketing, teaching, management and industry regulation. 



Pulp and Paper Chemist Job Duties

Pulp and paper chemist careers can vary greatly; some pulp and paper chemists may be involved only in research; others may work in a manufacturing facility for a private company, while others may instruct classes in a university setting. The range of pulp and chemist careers may involve duties such as:


• Coordinate the processes used by the various paper mills of a manufacturer in order to ensure product homogeneity

• Ensure that paper is produced in the same colour, regardless of variance in lighting exposure during the manufacturing process

• Conduct reactions and polymerize resins, such as maleic-modified rosin esters

• Develop resins for a particular application or industry by

• Test resin products at different temperatures to determine their viscosity

• Submit environmental reports to regulators 

• May study methods for de-inking paper in the recycling process

• Research applications of biotechnology or enzymatic processes for bleaching pulp and decolorizing bleach plant effluent

• Prepare research proposals

• Evaluate the work of junior-level researchers and graduate students

• Use chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide to chemically remove lignin from wood



Who Hires Pulp and Paper Chemists?

Pulp and paper chemists are hired by a variety of organizations, including those involved in paper production operations, sales, consulting, teaching and regulation.


Organizations that hire Pulp and Paper Chemists include:


• Environmental management firms, that consult on the environmental aspects of paper making

• Manufacturers of specialty products derived from resin chemicals

• Companies who supply materials, equipment, specialty chemicals, or services to the pulp and paper industry

• Technical marketing departments of for paper chemical producers

• Research and development departments for paper producers

• Industry regulation organizations

• Federal government departments




Skills Needed to Become a Pulp and Paper Chemist

In order to become effective in a career as a pulp and paper chemist you need to posses a certain set of skills and personality traits. These traits and skills will allow you to perform your various duties with competence, as well as help you endure the stress associated with this career.


• Must be able to effectively deal with stress and other people under stress

• Must be able to strictly follow safety protocols

• Interpersonal skills an important asset; pulp and paper chemists must work cooperatively with professionals from other departments, such as marketing

• An understanding of basic statistical concepts, and ability to apply them to work activities

• Manual dexterity and ability to use specialized laboratory equipment

• An educational foundation in many different disciplines: chemistry, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and microbiology

• An interest in seeing projects through, from conception stage to market stage

• An interest in working closely with professionals with different professional specialties

• Able to share opinions and effectively communicate findings to others



Pulp and Paper Chemist Salary

The salary level of pulp and paper chemists can vary depending on factors such as their level of education, their level of experience, where they work, the specific responsibilities of their job, and many others.


Pulp and Paper Chemist Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Chemists occupational group earn a mean wage of $35.36 per hour.


Pulp and Paper Chemist Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, workers in the Chemists occupational group earn an average salary of $63,190 per year.


Pulp and Paper Chemist Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of workers in the Chemists and Materials Scientists occupational group is $69,790 per year. 



Career Advancement for Pulp and Paper Chemists

Pulp and paper chemists with enough experience or specialized education (such as an education in business) can often move in to roles involving more responsibility, or roles in different areas of pulp and paper chemistry. These roles may include:


• Technical sales and marketing

• Supervisory roles in research and applied research

• Executive management and administration

• Environmental consulting

• Project management 



Careers Similar to Pulp and Paper Chemist

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Pulp and Paper Chemist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Environmental Chemist

Industrial Chemist

Materials Scientist

Methods Development Chemist

Petroleum Chemist



References: How to Become a Pulp and Paper Chemist

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a Pulp and Paper Chemist.



Occupations in Alberta:Chemist.” (March 5, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 11, 2020.

Life, Physical, and Social Science:Chemists and Materials Scientists.” (September 4, 2019). Bureau of Labor Statistics - United States Government website. Retrieved January 11, 2020.

College to Career:Organic Chemistry.” (n.d.). American Chemical Society website. Retrieved January 11, 2020.

Science News:Chemist's Discovery Opened Way To Pulp And Paper Industry In Southern U.S..” Ian Linton (August 18, 2019) Science Daily website. Retrieved January 11, 2020.



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Scholarships for Becoming a Pulp and Paper Chemist

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Pulp and Paper Chemist can be found on our Chemistry Scholarships page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Pulp and Paper Chemist: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a Pulp and Paper Chemist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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