Chemists and materials scientists
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Overview
Chemists and materials scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and analyze the ways in which the substances interact with one another. They use their knowledge to develop new and improved products and to test the quality of manufactured goods.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for chemists are expected to grow by 7%, and should have about 8,600 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Chemists are less likely to be automated than 75% of other careers.
Workforce size
Chemists, with 88,300 workers, form a larger workforce than 62% of careers.
Education
About 93% of chemists and materials scientists have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by chemists and materials scientists
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
More chemists and materials scientists have bachelor's degrees than 94% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for chemists is higher than 82% of all other jobs' middle salaries. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most chemists.
This job's median $77KAll jobs' median $39K$79K$38K20142015201620172018$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 39% of chemists and materials scientists -- that's a larger percentage than 53% of other jobs.
Gender of chemists and materials scientists
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For chemists and materials scientists, the median men's salary was 17% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 28% of chemists and materials scientists are minority, and 25% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of chemists and materials scientists
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (25%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Chemists per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 66% of chemists and materials scientists, and 85% have company-sponsored health insurance (12% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for chemists and materials scientists
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 94% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of chemists who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions (83%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (77%)
  • Time Pressure (71%)
  • Consequence of Error (51%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (50%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do chemists and materials scientists earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. In particular, the ACS data is reported for the larger career group chemists and materials scientists, which combines the data for 2 careers, including chemists. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data is classified by SOC specialty, and excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for chemists, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for chemists compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for chemists (BLS Salary Data)
$77K$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$77K$0$50K$100K$150K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. Additionally, we only have ACS survey data for the larger career category and not for the specialty level. We first show the full salary distribution for all chemists and materials scientists, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for chemists and materials scientists compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for chemists and materials scientists (ACS Salary Data)
$67K$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$67K$0$50K$100K$150K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where chemists work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Chemists and materials scientists (ACS)
Private for-profit (82.3%)
Private not-for-profit (3.5%)
Local government (3.4%)
State government (3.8%)
Federal government (5.8%)
Self-employed incorporated (0.7%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.6%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of chemists and materials scientists by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses. These salaries were reported for the larger career group of chemists and materials scientists, which combines the 2 specialties for this career.
$67K$47K$68K$91K$63K$62K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of chemists by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS. Remember that the BLS salaries are for the specialty chemists, and may differ signficantly from the ACS salary estimates which combine several career specialties.
$77K$110K$70K$76K$55K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for chemists and materials scientists

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$60K$47K$86K$80K$73K$80K$85K$38K$83K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
05K10K15KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Chemists and materials scientists and gender

With 39% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 53% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
39%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Chemists and materials scientists
Men (61%)
Women (39%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is a little better for chemists and materials scientists, with the median salary for men 17% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$62K$73K$0$50K$100K$150KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Chemists and materials scientists have one of the middle percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase for the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job higher than that for 50% of other jobs.

17%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of chemists and materials scientists

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a higher percentage of minority chemists and materials scientists than for 83% of other careers. This career hires a larger percentage of foreign-born workers than most other careers.

Race/origin of chemists and materials scientists
White (71% )
Asian (18% )
Black (7% )
Multiracial (2% )
Other (2% )
American Indian (0% )
Hispanic (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
28%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
25%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for chemists and materials scientists by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$59K$66K$68K$68K$0$50K$100K$150KMultiracialBlackWhiteAsian
Distribution: Salaries for chemists and materials scientists by nativity
$67K$71K$0$50K$100K$150KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by chemists

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), chemists typically hold a bachelor's degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as chemists and materials scientists as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for chemists and materials scientists.

Education attained by chemists and materials scientists
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for chemists

A bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a related field is needed for entry-level chemist or materials scientist jobs. Research jobs require a master’s degree or a Ph.D. and also may require significant levels of work experience. Chemists and materials scientists with a Ph.D. and postdoctoral experience typically lead basic- or applied-research teams. Combined programs, which offer an accelerated bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemistry, also are available.

Many colleges and universities offer degree programs in chemistry that are approved by the American Chemical Society. Some colleges offer materials science as a specialization within their chemistry programs, and some engineering schools offer degrees in the joint field of materials science and engineering. High school students can prepare for college coursework by taking chemistry, math, and computer science classes.

Undergraduate chemistry majors typically are required to take courses in analytical, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry. In addition, they take classes in math, biological sciences, and physics. Computer science courses are essential because chemists and materials scientists need computer skills to perform modeling and simulation tasks, manage and manipulate databases, and operate computerized laboratory equipment.

Laboratory experience through internships, fellowships, or work–study programs in industry is also useful. Some universities offer cooperative programs in which students gain work experience while pursuing a degree.

Graduate students studying chemistry commonly specialize in a subfield, such as analytical chemistry or inorganic chemistry. For example, those interested in doing research in the pharmaceutical industry usually develop a strong background in medicinal or organic chemistry.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for chemists and materials scientists? Below we see the distribution of chemists and materials scientists salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as chemists and materials scientists, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$73K$70K$73K$67K$61K$72K$94K$104K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KNone (0%)High School (1%)Some College (2%)Associate's Degree (3%)Bachelor's Degree (56%)Master's Degree (20%)Professional Deg/Doct (2%)Doctorate (15%)
Bachelor's degree pathways
College majors held by chemists and materials scientists

This table shows the college majors held by people working as chemists and materials scientists. Select any degree to see detailed information. We are able to connect careers to degrees using the American Community Survey (ACS), and their degrees are defined a little differently from our programs, which are based on standard CIP classifications. Therefore, selecting some degrees will lead to a selection of CIP-level programs from which to choose.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Degree
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Percentage of Chemists and materials scientists with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
48.2%
$0$200K$73K
11.3%
$0$200K$63K
4.5%
$0$200K$65K
3.3%
$0$200K$92K
1.3%
$0$200K$86K
1.3%
$0$200K$67K
1.2%
$0$200K$63K
1.1%
$0$200K$73K
0.8%
$0$200K$56K
0.8%
$0$200K$80K
0.7%
$0$200K$53K
0.6%
$0$200K$61K
0.6%
$0$200K$67K
0.6%
$0$200K$73K
The link between degrees and careers
The link between degrees and careers

With the following "sankey" diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as chemists and materials scientists, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. This visualization links fields of studies and careers, suggesting both similar careers and options for degrees. The full list of bachelor's degrees held by chemists and materials scientists given in the previous section reminds us that there are many paths to these careers beyond what we can summarize here.

This job
Top 10 majors
Each major's top ten jobs
Physicians and surgeonsChemists and materials scientistsPostsecondary teachersManagers (specialized areas)Physical scientists (specialized areas)Epidemiologists and Medical/Life ScientistsElementary and middle school teachersPharmacistsDentistsChief executives and legislatorsRegistered nursesClinical laboratory technologists and techniciansScience techniciansChemical engineersEngineers (specialized areas)Industrial engineersApplications and systems software developersCivil engineersFirst-line supervisors of retail sales workersMedical and health services managersHealth Practitioner Support Technologists and TechniciansAccountants and auditorsWholesale and manufacturing sales representativesSecondary school teachersFinancial managersSecretaries and administrative assistantsHuman resources workersFirst-line supervisors of non-retail sales workersMarketing and sales managersComputer programmersBiological scientistsRetail salespersonsChemistryBiologyBiochemical SciencesChemical EngineeringPharmacy, PharmaceuticalSciences, andAdministrationMultidisciplinary or GeneralScienceBusiness Management andAdministrationPhysicsMicrobiologyGeneral BusinessAll other degrees
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for chemists and materials scientists

What jobs will most chemists and materials scientists hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of chemists and materials scientists reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Chemists and materials scientistsPhysical scientists (specialized areas)Chemical techniciansPostsecondary teachersBiological scientistsChemical engineersManagers (specialized areas)Epidemiologists and Medical/Life ScientistsManagement analystsInspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighersFirst-line supervisors of production and operating workersHand laborers and freight, stock, and material moversMarket research analysts and marketing specialists
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for chemists and materials scientists

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 9 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as chemists and materials scientists as well as 1% of respondents after working as chemists and materials scientists. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for chemists and materials scientists
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Postsecondary teachers
172,500
$0$200K$62K
Management analysts
87,200
$0$200K$76K
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
First-line supervisors of production and operating workers
59,500
$0$200K$53K
Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers
52,700
$0$200K$39K
Epidemiologists and Medical/Life Scientists
13,700
$0$200K$67K
Chemical technicians
6,600
$0$200K$51K
Chemical engineers
2,400
$0$200K$96K
Physical scientists (specialized areas)
2,000
$0$200K$69K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for chemists and materials scientists: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as chemists and materials scientists? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of chemists and materials scientists surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for chemists and materials scientists
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Postsecondary teachers
172,500
$0$200K$62K
2.3%
Management analysts
87,200
$0$200K$76K
1.3%
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
1.8%
First-line supervisors of production and operating workers
59,500
$0$200K$53K
1.2%
Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers
52,700
$0$200K$39K
1.8%
Compliance officers
26,000
$0$200K$65K
1.0%
Science technicians
24,800
$0$200K$41K
1.9%
Chief executives and legislators
24,000
$0$200K$96K
1.4%
Epidemiologists and Medical/Life Scientists
13,700
$0$200K$67K
2.5%
Chemical processing machine setters and operators
12,300
$0$200K$51K
1.7%
Chemists and materials scientists
9,400
$0$200K$67K
49.6%
Chemical technicians
6,600
$0$200K$51K
3.0%
Chemical engineers
2,400
$0$200K$96K
1.9%
Physical scientists (specialized areas)
2,000
$0$200K$69K
7.9%
No occupation
5.5%
Read about chemists
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Chemists and materials scientists typically do the following:

  • Plan and carry out complex research projects, such as the development of new products and testing methods
  • Instruct scientists and technicians on proper chemical processing and testing procedures, including ingredients, mixing times, and operating temperatures
  • Prepare solutions, compounds, and reagents used in laboratory procedures
  • Analyze substances to determine their composition and concentration of elements
  • Conduct tests on materials and other substances to ensure that safety and quality standards are met
  • Write technical reports that detail methods and findings
  • Present research findings to scientists, engineers, and other colleagues

Some chemists and materials scientists work in basic research. Others work in applied research. In basic research, chemists investigate the properties, composition, and structure of matter. They also experiment with combinations of elements and the ways in which they interact. In applied research, chemists investigate possible new products and ways to improve existing ones. Chemistry research has led to the discovery and development of new and improved drugs, plastics, fertilizers, flavors, batteries, and cleaners, as well as thousands of other products.

Materials scientists study the structures and chemical properties of various materials to develop new products or enhance existing ones. They determine ways to strengthen or combine existing materials, or develop new materials for use in a variety of products. Applications of materials science include inventing or improving ceramics, plastics/polymers, metallic alloys, and superconducting materials.

Chemists and materials scientists use computers and a wide variety of sophisticated laboratory instrumentation for modeling, simulation, and experimental analysis. For example, some chemists use three-dimensional computer modeling software to study the structure and properties of complex molecules.

If a chemist specializes in green chemistry, he or she will design chemical processes and products that are environmentally sustainable. Green chemistry processes minimize the creation of toxins and waste.

Most chemists and materials scientists work as part of a team. The number of scientific research projects that involve multiple disciplines is increasing, and it is common for chemists and materials scientists to work on teams with other scientists, such as biologists, physicists, computer specialists, and engineers. For example, in pharmaceutical research, chemists may work with biologists to develop new drugs and with engineers to design ways to mass-produce the new drugs. For more information, see the profiles on biochemists and biophysicists, microbiologists, zoologists and wildlife biologists, physicists and astronomers, computer and information technology occupations, and engineering occupations.

Because chemists and materials scientists typically work on research teams, they need to be able to work well with others toward a common goal. Many serve in a leadership capacity and need to be able to motivate and direct other team members.

Chemists often specialize in a particular branch of the field. The following are examples of types of chemists:

Analytical chemists determine the structure, composition, and nature of substances by examining and identifying their various elements or compounds. They also study the relationships and interactions among the parts of compounds. Some analytical chemists specialize in developing new methods of analysis and new techniques for carrying out their work. Their research has a wide range of applications, including food safety, pharmaceuticals, and pollution control.

Forensic chemists analyze evidence for clues to help solve crimes. These chemists aid in criminal investigations by testing evidence, such as DNA, and interpreting their findings. Not only is human DNA evidence tested; DNA evidence can be used to exonerate animals suspected of having killed people or other animals. These chemists work primarily in laboratories, though they sometimes testify in court.

Inorganic chemists study the structure, properties, and reactions of molecules that do not contain carbon, such as metals. They work to understand the behavior and the characteristics of inorganic substances. Inorganic chemists figure out how these materials, such as ceramics and superconductors, can be modified, separated, or used in products.

Medicinal chemists research and develop chemical compounds that can be used as pharmaceutical drugs. They work on teams with other scientists and engineers to create and test new drug products. They also help develop new and improved manufacturing processes to effectively produce new drugs on a large scale.

Organic chemists study the structure, properties, and reactions of molecules that contain carbon. They also design and make new organic substances that have unique properties and applications. These compounds, in turn, have been used to develop many commercial products, such as pharmaceutical drugs and plastics.

Physical chemists study the fundamental characteristics of how matter behaves on a molecular and atomic level and how chemical reactions occur. From their analyses, physical chemists may develop new theories, such as how complex structures are formed. Physical chemists often work closely with materials scientists, to research and develop potential uses for new materials.

Theoretical chemists investigate theoretical methods that can predict the outcomes of chemical experiments. Theoretical chemistry encompasses a variety of specializations, although most specializations incorporate advanced computation and programming. Some examples of theoretical chemists are computational chemists, mathematical chemists, and chemical informaticians.

Materials scientists tend to specialize by the material they work with most often. A few examples of materials in which these scientists specialize are ceramics, glasses, metals, nanomaterials (extremely small substances), polymers, and semiconductors.

A growing number of chemists work in interdisciplinary fields, such as biochemistry and geochemistry. For more information, see the profiles on biochemists and biophysicists and geoscientists.

Many people with a chemistry background become postsecondary teachers or high school teachers.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of chemists? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Analytical skills
Chemists and materials scientists carry out scientific experiments and studies. They must be precise and accurate in their analyses because errors could invalidate their research.
Communication skills
Chemists and materials scientists need to communicate clearly with team members and other scientists. They must read and write technical reports and give presentations.
Interpersonal skills
Chemists and materials scientists typically work on interdisciplinary research teams and need to work well with others toward a common goal. Many serve as team leaders and must motivate and direct other team members.
Math skills
Chemists and materials scientists regularly use complex mathematical equations and formulas, and they need a broad understanding of math, including calculus, algebra, and statistics.
Organizational skills
Chemists and materials scientists need to document processes carefully in order to conform to regulations and industry procedures. Disorganization in the workplace can lead to legal problems, damage to equipment, and chemical spills.
Perseverance
Scientific research involves substantial trial and error, and chemists and materials scientists must not become discouraged in their work.
Problem-solving skills
Chemists and materials scientists research and develop new and improved chemical products, processes, and materials. This work requires a great deal of trial and error on the part of chemists and materials scientists before a unique solution is found.
Time-management skills
Chemists and materials scientists usually need to meet deadlines when conducting research. They must be able to manage time and prioritize tasks efficiently while maintaining their quality of work.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for chemists
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) salary for chemists was higher than 82% of all other jobs' middle salaries. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $77KAll jobs' median $39K$74K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$50K$100K$150K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for chemists are anticipated to grow by 7% over the next decade; 51% of jobs are projected to grow more.

The projected employment for chemists is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

2000201020202030020,00040,00060,00080,000100,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most chemists? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as chemists. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

One important factor in the differences between ACS and BLS data is that the ACS numbers are for all chemists and materials scientists, comprised of all specialities listed in the menu bar, and you can choose to view the BLS at the specialty or full career level.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Number of Chemists per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.01.02.03.04.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where chemists earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for chemists and materials scientists compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for chemists and materials scientists.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information. The ACS salaries are for all chemists and materials scientists, which combines the specialities from which you can choose at the top of the page.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS for this specialty
Median salary ratio: Chemists to all workers (BLS for this specialty)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which chemists earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.01.02.03.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Chemists and materials scientists (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
Choose the similarity measure to compare careers
Interests
Environment
Knowledge
Physical Abilities
Jobs that are similar by Interests and Salary (All education levels)
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