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THE JOB CHEMISTS study the composition, structure, and properties of substances and the interactions between them. They search for new information about materials and look for ways to put this knowledge to practical use. They apply scientific principles and techniques using specialized instruments to measure, identify, and evaluate changes in matter. Chemists are grouped into four main specialties: Organic Chemists work with carbon and its compounds, most of which are substances originally derived from animals and plants. These Chemists are responsible for developing many commercial products, including drugs, plastics, and fertilizers. Inorganic Chemists work with compounds of non-carbon structure, including most of the metals and minerals. In the electronics industry, they work on ways to build solid state electronic components. Physical Chemists concentrate on the study of quantitative relationships between the chemical and physical properties of substances. These Chemists are helping to develop new energy sources. Analytical Chemists examine the content of substances (qualitative analysis) and measure the amount of each component present (quantitative analysis). Analytical Chemists also identify the presence of chemical pollutants in air, water, and soil. Most Chemists are involved in either Research and development (R&D) or production. In basic Research, Chemists seek new scientific knowledge of chemical properties or theories. Chemists working in applied Research use their knowledge to improve and create new products. In production, Chemists prepare compounds in the form and amount required for commercial use. More than 60 percent of Chemists work for manufacturers. The majority of these work in chemical manufacturing. Chemists also work in industries such as plastics, biotechnology, food, electronics, pharmaceuticals, paints, detergents, and cosmetics. Academic institutions are the second largest employer of Chemists. Teaching is the most important function, but in most four year colleges, Research is also a high priority. Career opportunities are also found in federal, State and local government. Positions include forensic Chemists who work for law enforcement agencies analyzing blood, saliva, fabric, soil, and other substances; water quality Chemists who analyze treated and untreated domestic water supplies; and agricultural Chemists who study the chemical interaction of soils, fertilizers, insects, and animals. Still other Chemists work outside the chemical industry in positions such as sales, patent law, computer programming, investment banking, writing, purchasing, and technical library work. WORKING CONDITIONS Most Chemists work regular hours in well-equipped, well-lit laboratories, offices, or classrooms but may do some of their Research in a chemical plant or outdoors. Chemists handle potentially explosive or highly caustic chemicals, although risks are minimal when proper safety procedures are followed. EMPLOYMENT OUTLOOK The following information is from the California Projections of Employment published by the Labor Market Information Division and includes Chemists and post-secondary chemistry teachers. Estimated number of workers in 1993 12,770 Estimated number of workers in 2005 17,870 Projected Growth 1993-2005 40 % Estimated openings due to separations by 2005 5,230 (These figures do not include self-employment or openings due to turnover.) The number of Chemists will grow at an above-average rate through 2005. The job market has improved somewhat in the past few years. Growth will be in Research firms, especially in pharmaceutical and biotechnology. Chemists with specialties in materials science, analytical chemistry, and food chemistry should have good opportunities. WAGES, HOURS, AND FRINGE BENEFITS Chemists' salaries vary considerably, depending upon individual experience, educational levels, nature of responsibilities, chemical specialty, and the industry and size of firm in which they are employed. According to a survey by the American Chemical Society (ACS), the annual starting salary in 1996 for entry-level positions averaged $25,000 for college graduates with a B.S. in Chemistry; $36,000 for M.S. Chemists; and $45,000 for Chemists with a Ph.D. Entry-level Chemists beginning in Federal service begin at approximately $23,000 a year. Wages tend to be higher in private industry, lower in government, and lower still in high school, colleges and universities. Chemists with a doctorate joining the California State University system can expect to start at around $30,000 and ultimately earn about $63,000 per year. The University of California system beginning salary for assistant professor is $39,600 annually. A full professor can earn over $100,000 per year. Chemists working in private industry, education, and government enjoy outstanding benefits including paid vacations, life insurance, health insurance plans, and retirement programs. Chemists in private industry may also receive bonuses. ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING The ACS Committee on Professional Training evaluates undergraduate chemistry programs and publishes a list of schools that meet their guidelines. High school students who want to major in chemistry should take related science classes and four years of mathematics, including trigonometry. Computer experience would also be an asset. A bachelor's degree with a major in chemistry is normally the minimum requirement for starting a career as a Chemist. A master's degree is usually required for jobs in applied Research and in two-year colleges. However, because of increasing competition for teaching positions in two year colleges, the number of instructors with doctorates is growing. Doctorates are required for many Chemists in administrative, managerial and basic Research positions in industry. Chemistry teachers and professors at four-year colleges and universities must have doctorates. Much of their work week is devoted to doing Research. Ten to fifteen hours per week is spent on teaching duties. ADVANCEMENT In private industry, Chemists with a bachelor degree have the opportunity, with experience and additional training, to advance to a more responsible position. The best opportunity for advancement, though, is through advanced degrees. Chemists with a master's degree usually qualify for applied Research positions and teaching positions in two year colleges. A doctorate offers the best opportunities for higher levels of Research and four-year college teaching positions. FINDING THE JOB Graduates, who attend colleges with cooperative education programs that allow a student to study for a degree in chemistry and work at the same time, often begin their career working with the same company. Others join firms that they worked for during summer internships. Graduates also find job leads through college placement offices and on-campus recruitment. Other sources for job leads come from professional directories and journals, classified ads, and personal networking. The ACS offers a wide range of career services to its members and student affiliates, including a professional data bank, employment clearing house, and career placement registry. ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION American Chemical Society, Career Services 1155 16th Street NW Washington, DC 20036 (202) 872-4600 http://www.acs.org RELATED OCCUPATIONAL GUIDES Chemical Engineers No. 8 Medical & Clinical Laboratory Technologists No. 17 Pharmacists No. 159 Microbiologists No. 168 Laboratory Assistants/Laboratory Techs. No. 201 OCCUPATIONAL CODE REFERENCES DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 4th Ed., 1991) Chemist 022.061-010 Chemical Laboratory Tech. 022.261-010 Chemist Water Purification 022.281-014 OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) System Chemists (except Bio-Chemists) 241050 Chemistry Teachers-Postsecondary 312040 Source: State of California, Employment Development Department, Labor Market Information Division, Information Services Group, (916) 262-2162Note: This is NOT a job opening. The purpose of This California Occupational Guide is to provide you with useful information to help you make career decisions. If you are searching for a job, go to:
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