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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.

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) 
  • 2016 NOC: Chemists (2112) 
  • 2021 NOC: Chemists (21101) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Chemists

2006 NOC: 2112

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Apr 06, 2022

Duties and responsibilities vary a lot. 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
  • Devise new technical applications of industrial chemicals and compounds
  • Study chemical compounds and chemical reactions
  • Research the chemical aspects of drug action, organ function, and the diagnosis and treatment of disease

Chemists also work outside of a laboratory setting. They:

  • Write, edit, and review technical material, such as books, journal articles, reviews, and reports
  • Work with chemical engineers, biologists, agrologists, geologists, and others on multidisciplinary research and development projects
  • Develop new manufacturing processes and drug delivery formats
  • Develop and introduce safety and environmental programs
  • Provide technical advice to other professionals
  • Supervise the work of other chemists, chemical technologists, chemical technicians, and scientists from other professions
  • Purchase and sell chemicals

Technological advances have changed traditional chemistry. For example, chemists now use complex computerized instruments and robots. Chemists play an important role in other fields such as:

  • Alternative energy
  • Electronics
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Hazardous material and contaminated site management
  • Nanotechnology
  • Drug and vaccine development
Working Conditions
Updated Apr 06, 2022
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Many chemists work regular hours in office and lab settings. However, non-traditional hours outside of the 9 am to 5 pm work schedule are becoming more 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.

Traits & Skills
Updated Apr 06, 2022

Chemists need:

  • Patience
  • Persistence
  • 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
  • The ability to pay attention to detail

They should enjoy:

  • Connecting information and finding creative solutions to problems
  • Working with instruments at precision tasks
  • Directing the work of others

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Chemists

2016 NOC: 2112

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 25 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 27, 2021 and Nov 28, 2022.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Personal Suitability: Accurate
Personal Suitability: Organized
Personal Suitability: Team player
Personal Suitability: Excellent written communication
Long term benefits: Group insurance benefits
Health benefits: Health care plan
Health benefits: Dental plan
Other benefits: Free parking available
Specializations in Chemistry: Synthetic
Specializations in Chemistry: Spectroscopy
Educational Requirements
Updated Apr 06, 2022
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

Many chemists begin their post-secondary education by taking a 4-year Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in chemistry. They then go on to a master’s (M.Sc.) or doctoral (PhD) degree.

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. If you wish to do research, teach at a post-secondary level, become a project coordinator, or advance to director, you may need a PhD.


To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

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 more information about accreditation of post-secondary programs in chemistry, and for a list of nationally accredited programs in Alberta, see the CSC website.

Certification Requirements
Updated Apr 06, 2022
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Chemist.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Apr 06, 2022

Chemists work in almost every industry. Most chemists work in small labs in:

  • Research, development, and quality control
  • Hospitals and universities
  • Environmental organizations
  • Water and wastewater operations
  • Food processing and agricultural companies
  • Chemical, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical companies
  • Manufacturing companies
  • Mineral, metal, and pulp and paper industries
  • Public health agencies
  • Government

Experienced chemists may advance to senior management positions. This generally requires a post-graduate degree. They can also start their own consulting and service businesses.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2112: Chemists occupational group, 79.4% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2112: Chemists occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.3% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 20 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Apr 06, 2022

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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Chemists

2016 NOC: 2112
Average Wage
$52.00
Per Hour
Average Salary
$104,560.00
Per Year
Average Hours
39
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2112 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $16.83 $55.11 $35.63 $40.87
Overall $26.44 $79.60 $52.00 $62.50
Top $38.46 $97.97 $72.97 $76.92

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Manufacturing
ALL INDUSTRIES
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
29%
29%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
N/A
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
0%
0%
Vacancy Rate
N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Apr 06, 2022

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: cicedmonton.org

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

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2022. 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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