Analytical Chemist

Determine the chemical components of substances.
picture of Analytical Chemist

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$39,000 – $116,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Analytical Chemists do?

Before children will eat a casserole, they often want to know what exactly that casserole is made of. Does it have yummy cheese? Does it have icky spinach? How do cheese and spinach work together?

Pharmaceutical companies, environmental groups, and manufacturing firms are a lot like children. They hire Analytical Chemists to determine what a substance is made of and how those elements might work with one another.

If you’re an Analytical Chemist, your home is the laboratory, and you have countertops cluttered with specialized equipment like spectrometers and chromatographs. When a sample comes to you for analysis, you grind up a part of that sample and perform tests to determine what elements it contains. This testing may take up most of your day, and you keep a detailed record of every element you find. Sometimes, you may find impurities or compounds that simply shouldn’t be there, and you make sure to record those findings in big, bold letters.

When you’ve figured out what elements make up the sample, you do several tests to determine how those elements work together. In some tests, you combine only two of the elements and record the results. In others, you replace one element with another, just to see what happens.

For an Analytical Chemist, curiosity is a big asset. Things you were punished for as a child may actually earn you a raise!


Should I be an Analytical Chemist?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.

  • Also known as: Chemical Analyst, Chemist, Analytical, Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Analyst, GC-MS Analyst, Metals Analyst See More

    How to become an Analytical Chemist

    Most Analytical Chemists have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aea9cl&chl=|certificate+%286%25%29||bachelor%27s+%2877%25%29|master%27s+%283%25%29|doctorate+%2814%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,77
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