Careers in analytical chemistry span a vast spectrum, from private employment in the pharmaceutical industry, to work for government agencies that supervise environmental quality. Analytical chemist jobs involve testing materials to determine their chemical composition in a controlled environment to generate repeatable and verifiable results. To do this work, it is usually necessary to have a bachelor's degree in analytical chemistry at a minimum, and many people have higher degrees to qualify them for specialized work.
In the public sector, analytical chemist jobs can include work for environmental agencies as well as health and safety agencies. Chemists test samples of air, soil, water, and other materials for signs of contamination and can make policy recommendations to help agencies protect environment health. They may also test foods, medications, and other products for signs of contamination. The analytical chemist may recommend a recall or change in product formulation to address safety concerns.
Analytical chemists can also perform forensic evaluation for government agencies. Law enforcement agencies have analytical chemist jobs available to test materials found at crime scenes. The chemist can determine their chemical composition and origins. This information may be helpful in the identification of a suspect or the development of a case to bring someone to justice.
Private sector employment is also an option. Many companies need chemists in their research and development departments. Analytical chemist jobs can include the development of new chemical compounds, testing compounds to learn more about them, and the improvement of existing products. Some chemists focus on creating new equipment for use in analytical chemistry while others have an interest in working on tasks like pharmaceutical product control or the development of better stabilizers for foods.
Other analytical chemist jobs can be found at educational institutions, which need chemists to provide education and training to their students. Chemists can work for colleges and universities, where they may also conduct research. They can also work at trade and technical schools to prepare technicians for work in laboratory settings. Nonprofit organizations also have analytical chemist jobs available; environmental groups, for example, may maintain labs to perform independent testing.
Students with an interest in a career in analytical chemistry may want to think about a specific area of focus. This can help them decide where to go to school. It may also determine how much education is necessary for the work. A chemist working in a government laboratory may need a master's degree, for instance, while a pharmaceutical researcher may have a PhD and postdoctoral work on her resume.