How to Become an Industrial Chemist


Career Path Guide

Working as an industrial chemist means you will be solving problems at the forefront of research; you must have a curious an interest in applied science, optimizing chemical processes, and be able withstand failure in your work efforts.


Those who become industrial chemists are typically individuals who have a good understanding of both chemistry and chemical engineering concepts. They are also individuals who are comfortable working closely with a team of professionals from various fields, and they must be comfortable sharing their opinions and findings with those professionals.



Education You'll Need to Be an Industrial Chemist

Typically, educational prerequisites for entry-level positions in industrial chemistry, such as laboratory assistant and research assistant, include having an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in chemistry or industrial chemistry.


Having a master's or doctoral degree in chemistry or industrial chemistry is typically the educational prerequisite for becoming an industrial chemist who works in independent research, applied research, consulting, laboratory supervisory positions and lecturing positions. Having a bachelor of engineering degree with an industrial chemistry specialization may also qualify you for job in independent research or applied research positions.


General chemistry coursework that will provide you with the necessary knowledge base to become an industrial chemist may include such courses as principles of chemistry, chemical analysis, introductory physics, and organic chemistry.


To become an industrial chemist, you will need to be knowledgeable in such areas as organic and inorganic chemical processes, chemical engineering processes, environmental chemistry, industrial polymer chemistry, as well as experience in advanced laboratory work.


Please Note: Although there are not many universities that offer degree industrial chemistry degree programs, many employers seek candidates whose educational background is heavily based on field-related coursework.





What is an Industrial Chemist?

General job description


Industrial chemists assist chemical engineers in transforming small-scale chemical discoveries into mass-produced goods by analyzing compounds and substances to find their precise chemical or physical properties. Industrial chemists may also develop or improve products, formulas, analytical methods, and processes.


Depending upon their level of education and career interests, an industrial chemist may work in a variety of different possible settings, and perform a range of work functions. These functions may include conducting research, teaching, or working in a lab for a company or other organization.



What Do They Do?

General job duties of an industrial chemist


• Use quantitative and qualitative analysis to determine physical properties of a substance

• Share specialized knowledge with chemical engineers and other professionals

• Ensure that production meets deadlines and quality standards

• Prepare directions for factory personnel that outline the proper ingredients, temperatures and mixing times during all stages of the production process

• Oversee automated production processes in order to ensure the desired product yield is achieved

• Analyze samples of raw materials and finished products in order to ensure government and industry standards and regulations are met

• Record test results and provide feedback to production staff

• Work to develop new testing and production methods in order to improve efficiency and product quality

• May conduct lectures and instruct students





Typical Salary Level

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


Salary in the 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 $78,330 per year. 


Salary in Canada: According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Chemists occupational group earn a mean salary of $79,450. Meanwhile in B.C., WorkBC states that those working as Chemists earn an annual provincial median salary of $63,003. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (October 12, 2019).



Skills You'll Need

To be effective in a career as an industrial chemist, you need to posses a certain set of skills and personality characteristics, as they will allow you to perform your job with competence, as well as help you to endure the ups and downs of your career.


• Able to strictly follow protocol without cutting corners

• Must pay close attention to detail and be very accurate in work

• Knowledge in chemical engineering processes

• Basic knowledge of management and business skills are typically an asset

• Expert level knowledge in the properties and chemical structure of materials such as oil, metal and plastics, drugs, fertilizers and food

• Able to devise and control production-processing methods

• Able to ensure quality standards are upheld, and industry regulations are adhered to

• Able to use specialized laboratory equipment and computer software

• Able to work effectively with other professionals, such as chemical engineers



Who Employs Them?

Industrial chemists are hired by the research & development or production departments of organizations involved in transforming small-scale chemical discoveries into mass-produced goods. Government organizations and academic institutions may also hire industrial chemists.


Organizations that employs industrial chemists include:


• Food and beverage product manufacturing companies

• Home chemical product companies

• Petrochemical companies

• Pharmaceutical companies

• Polyurethane Companies

• Personal care product producers

• Scientific innovation oriented non-profit organizations

• Government agencies

• Colleges and universities

• Chemical engineering consulting firms



Current Industrial Chemist Job Postings

Our job board below has "Industrial Chemist" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia:




Similar Occupations

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


Chemical Analyst

Chemical Engineer


Industrial Engineer

Materials Scientist



References for this Career Guide

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an industrial chemist:


Occupations in Alberta:Chemist.” (March 5, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 12, 2019.

Explore Careers:Chemists.” (July 5, 2018). WorkBC website - Province of British Columbia . Retrieved October 12, 2019.

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Life, Physical and Social Science:Chemists and Materials Scientists.” (September 4, 2019). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 12, 2019.

Chemistry Careers: Chemistry Careers in Industry.” (n.d.). American Chemical Society website. Retrieved October 12, 2019.




The scholarships in our database that are relevant for becoming an industrial chemist are all of those that 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!



Applicable Majors for this Career

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for getting into this field:


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Industrial Chemist