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Chemist

Chemists conduct research and determine the properties, composition and principles of elements and compounds. They apply chemical principles to develop a wide range of products and processes. (For example, they may develop new fuels, catalysts, polymers, pharmaceutical products or foods, or work in the oil and gas industry or agriculture.)

  • Avg. Salary $79,450.00
  • Avg. Wage $41.06
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 2,400
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Analytical Chemist, Environmental Chemist, Organic Chemist, Physical Chemist, Physical Scientist, Polymer Chemist, Research Scientist, Biochemist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Chemists (2112) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Chemists (C012) 
  • 2011 NOC: Chemists (2112) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

N/A
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Chemist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Chemists
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to conduct research to develop new chemical formulations and processes and to devise new technical applications of industrial chemicals and compounds; and to investigate chemical aspects of the mechanisms of drug action, the diagnosis and treatment of disease, organ function and the assessment of health

OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working with instruments to analyze, synthesize, purify, modify and characterize chemical and biochemical compounds

DIRECTIVE

Interest in consulting in a particular field of technical expertise; and in developing and conducting programs of analysis to ensure quality control of raw materials, chemical intermediates and final products; may supervise other chemists and chemical technicians and technologists

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Duties and responsibilities vary a lot but, in general, chemists:

  • analyze, synthesize, purify, modify and characterize chemical compounds
  • develop and conduct quality control programs (for raw materials, chemical intermediates and final products)
  • conduct sample and data collection and analysis programs (to identify and quantify environmental pollutants)
  • conduct research (to develop new chemical formulations and processes), and devise new technical applications of industrial chemicals and compounds
  • purchase and sell chemicals
  • study chemical compounds and chemical reactions
  • research the chemical aspects of drug action, organ function, and the diagnosis and treatment of disease
  • develop novel manufacturing processes and drug delivery formats
  • write, edit and review technical material (for example, books, journal articles, reviews and reports)
  • work with chemical engineers, biologists, agronomists, geologists and others on multidisciplinary research and development projects
  • develop and introduce safety and environmental programs
  • provide technical advice for other professionals
  • supervise the work of other chemists, chemical technologists, and technicians and scientists from other professions.

Technological advances (for example, the introduction of complex computerized instruments and robots) have changed traditional chemistry. Chemists play an important role in emerging fields such as electronics, nanotechnology, climate change and environmental chemistry.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

While many chemists work regular hours in office and lab settings, non-traditional hours (outside of the 9 am to 5 pm work schedule) are becoming increasingly common. Chemists may do some work in chemical plants or outdoors. Large testing labs may include prototype chemical manufacturing facilities.

Chemists must take safety measures to avoid illness or injury when handling hazardous materials.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Chemists need to possess:

  • good communication skills (reading, writing and speaking)
  • math skills
  • computer skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • the ability to think logically and critically
  • the ability to work on their own as well as with a team (including individuals from other professions and disciplines)
  • patience, persistence and attention to detail.

They should enjoy:

  • connecting information and finding creative solutions to problems
  • working with instruments at tasks requiring precision
  • directing the work of others
  • working on their own and as a part of a team.
Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Many chemists begin their post-secondary education by taking a 4-year Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in chemistry, then go on to a master’s (M.Sc.) or doctoral (PhD) level. In general, the entrance requirement for a master’s degree program in chemistry is an acceptable average in a 4-year B.Sc. degree program in chemistry (or equivalent). A PhD often is required for research and post-secondary teaching positions, and may also be required for project coordinator or director positions.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Concordia University of Edmonton

Grande Prairie Regional College

The King's University

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

The Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) offers national accreditation for chemistry education programs. CSC accreditation ensures that a program meets national standards of education and that its graduates’ qualifications are nationally transferable. For further information about accreditation of post-secondary programs in chemistry, as well as a list of programs offered in Alberta that are nationally accredited, see the CSC website.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Chemist

Chemists conduct research, develop new or improved products and processes, and test and evaluate the composition, quality and safety of materials used by industry and the public.

Legislation

Professional Chemist is a protected title under Alberta's Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act. This means that to call yourself a Professional Chemist, you must be a registered member of the Association of the Chemical Profession of Alberta (ACPA). You do not have to be registered if you do not call yourself a Professional Chemist.

What You Need

Registration as a Professional Chemist requires one of the following: (1) an acceptable bachelor's degree in chemical sciences and at least 24 months of relevant work experience, (2) successful completion of an approved examination and at least 60 months of acceptable work experience, or (3) an equivalent combination of academic qualifications and experience. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the ACPA website or contact the ACPA.

Working in Alberta

Chemists who are registered and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered chemists in the two jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see "What if I am already certified in another province or territory?" and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated chemists, see Chemist Registration Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Contact Details

Association of the Chemical Profession of Alberta
P.O. Box 21017
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T6R 2V4
Phone number: 780-413-0004
Fax number: 780-413-0076
E-mail: acpaoffice@pchem.ca  
Website: www.pchem.ca

 

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Most chemists work in small labs and in just about every industry. They work in:

  • research, development and quality control labs
  • chemical, petrochemical and pharmaceuticals industries
  • mineral, metal, and pulp and paper industries
  • manufacturing and utilities
  • health care, education, the environment and government.

Experienced chemists may advance to senior management positions (generally requires a secondary degree), or start their own consulting and service businesses.

In Alberta, 77% of people employed as chemists work in the following industries:

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the C012: Chemists occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.1% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 21 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Chemists’ salaries can vary significantly from one industry to the next.

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $23.50 $42.62 $31.92 $32.34
Overall $26.44 $68.42 $41.06 $43.21
Top $31.25 $76.92 $47.85 $50.64

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Manufacturing

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

15%
15%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

N/A

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

8%
8%

Vacancy Rate

2%
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

American Chemical Society (ACS) website: www.acs.org

Association of the Chemical Profession of Alberta (ACPA) website: www.pchem.ca

Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) website: www.cheminst.ca

CIC Calgary Section website: www.facebook.com/CalgaryCIC

CIC Edmonton Section website: www.cicedmonton.org

International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry website: www.iupac.org

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 05, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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