How to Become an Assayer


To set the course for getting into this profession, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. Does the following describe you?


Those who become assayers are typically individuals with a natural interest in geology; chemistry and they enjoy identifying minerals. Their interest in these areas must also be coupled with a related education, as well as skills and knowledge in specific areas, such as analytical instrumentation theory.


They must also be highly skilled in laboratory and quantitative analysis techniques, and be comfortable working in a laboratory environment.  


As this career can be a stressful one at times, assayers need to have patience, commitment and determination if they wish to succeed in this field. An assayer must also be able to work under pressure, and take accountability for their work; the quality of an assayer’s work can have a large impact on the financial success of their employer.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an assayer. 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 an Assayer

You'll likely need a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or geology, although requirements may vary by employer. Completing a degree program in which you can concentrate on both areas is ideal.


As assayers perform laboratory tests that help them analyze metal, ores, and other geological material, they must have a good foundation of knowledge in chemistry, as well as laboratory skills. Undergraduate degree programs in chemistry and/or geology will allow you to gain this knowledge base and skills set.


Some employers may hire assayers that have completed a vocational school or college program in assayer training. These comprehensive programs combine classroom and lab work, and are specifically designed to provide students with skills that will allow them to become competent assayers, skills such as accuracy and speed in analytical work. Coursework in these programs may cover areas such as:


• Introduction to assaying

• Fire assaying and mineral identification

• Classical wet assaying and qualitative analysis

• Selectivity and specificity of analytical procedures

• Analytical instrumentation-theory, and practical

• Sampling theory and methods

• Statistical analysis

• Reference standards

• Laboratory practicum





General Job Description

Assayers are scientific professionals who analyze various types of minerals and ores for the purpose of identifying properties of those substances, as well as their value. Some assayers focus on analyzing samples for the purpose of finding specific types of ores or metals, such as gold, silver or platinum. Some assayers also process materials and analyze base metals, non-metallic materials, concentrates, effluents and air samples.


Assayers are often hired by mining companies because of their ability to accurately assess the viability of initiating a mining operation within a given area by identifying the mineral content of samples from that area.


This allows employers to determine whether or not they should invest time and resources into that area, based on whether or not they are likely to have success mining and extracting minerals and precious metals. This helps companies keep their costs low by not investing in “blind digs”.



Typical Job Duties

• Liaise with skilled tradespeople, engineers and management

• Select, specify and perform qualitative and quantitative analysis

• Perform statistical analysis

• Prepare reports and submit to management

• Use chemical solutions under strict laboratory conditions

• Use liquid and dry processes to separate metals or other components from dross materials

• Weigh residues on scale to determine the proportion of pure gold, silver, platinum or other metals

• Use spectrographic analysis, chemical solutions and chemical laboratory equipment to conduct testing and analysis of ores and minerals

• May use various processes to refine elements that are present within a sample



Who Employs Assayers?

Assayers are often hired on a full-time or contractual basis by companies that various types of minerals and ores to be analyzed for the purpose of identifying properties of those substances, as well as their value. Assayers may also work in academia, as well as in various government departments.


Companies that hire assayers include:


• Analytical, chemical and commercial laboratories

• Oil and gas companies

• Precious metal and mineral mining companies

• Metallurgical companies

• Geochemical companies

• Companies involved in refining, reduction and research operations

• Engineering consulting firms

• Jewelry stores and distributors

• Government departments

• Colleges and universities





Working Conditions Typical to This Occupation

Work Environment: Assayers typically perform their jobs in a combination of settings, although mainly in laboratories and fieldwork. While performing fieldwork, assayers must remain standing or crouching for long periods of time. They must also carry, assemble and utilize equipment, which involves lights duty lifting and frequent movement. While working in a laboratory, assayers typically have to adhere to strict safety regulations, and use specialized equipment to conduct qualitative analysis.


Working Hours: Assayers often work regular office weekday hours, although their hours may extend into evenings and weekends on occasion to perform certain job duties, such as performing fieldwork or meeting with clients.



Skills and Traits Needed to Be Successful

To be successful in a career in this field, you need to posses a certain set of skills and personality traits. These traits and skills will not only allow you to perform your job with competence, they will also allow you to enjoy and endure the ups and downs of this career.


• An analytical mind

• Able to strictly follow safety protocols

• An aptitude for scientific inquiry

• Responsible, systematic and neat

• Skills with specialized laboratory equipment

• Excellent written and verbal communications skills

• Able to share opinions and findings with others, even when they are unfavourable

• A natural interest in the environment and geology

• Able to build and maintain good interpersonal relations



Assayer Salary Level of Assayers

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


There is no reliable salary information for Assayers specifically, although we can get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the salary level of the closely related career Chemical Technician.


Assayer Salary Canada (Alberta figures only): According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, the average earnings of Albertans in the Chemical Technologists and Technicians occupational group is $62,913 per year.


Assayer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of workers in the Chemical Technicians occupational group is $42,040 per year. 



Assayer Jobs

Our job board below has "Assayer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Demanding Elements of a Career as an Assayer

A career as an assayer can be rewarding, challenging and fulfilling, however it is not without its challenges, which typically include:


• Working activities may be routine and monotonous

• An exceptional degree of concentration and accuracy is required

• Pressure: The results of work have a large impact on the success of the employer

• Must be willing and able to keep up with advancements in the field

• May have to work overtime to complete tests, analysis and attend meetings

• Frequent travel may be required, or permanent relocation



Similar Occupations in Our Database

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


Chemical Analyst

Chemical Technician

Environmental Technician


Geoscience Technician




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of this profession:


Occupations in Alberta:Chemical Technologist.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 23, 2019.

Occupational Employment and Wages:Chemical Technicians.” (September 4, 2019. Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 23, 2019.

Media:Assayer Certification Process Map.” (n.d.). WelcomeBC website - Province of British Columbia. Retrieved October 23, 2019.

Careers:Assayer.” (n.d.). The Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science - Alternative Careers website. Retrieved October 23, 2019.




Scholarships for Becoming an Assayer

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming an assayer can be found on our Chemistry Scholarships and Geology Scholarships pages.


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!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for working in this field. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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