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Chemists research the properties, composition and principles of elements and compounds, and apply chemical principles to developing 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.

  • Avg. Salary $76,355.00
  • Avg. Wage $39.01
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 2,400
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Chemist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
NOC code: 2112

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


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


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

Updated Dec 19, 2016

Duties and responsibilities vary considerably from one position to another 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
  • research the synthesis and properties of chemical compounds and the mechanisms of chemical reactions
  • investigate the chemical aspects of drug action, organ function, and the diagnosis and treatment of disease
  • 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 implement 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 have changed traditional chemistry through the introduction of complex computerized instruments and robots. Chemists also play an important role in emerging fields such as electronics, nanotechnology, climate change and environmental chemisty.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Chemists usually work regular hours in office and laboratory environments, although they may do some work in chemical plants or outdoors. Large testing laboratories may incorporate prototype chemical manufacturing facilities.

Chemists must observe safety precautions to avoid injury when handling hazardous substances.

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

Chemists need the following characteristics:

  • good speaking, reading and writing skills
  • mathematical ability
  • problem solving skills
  • the ability to think logically and analytically
  • the ability to work independently as well as with a team that includes individuals from other professions and disciplines
  • patience, persistence and the ability to pay close attention to detail.

They should enjoy synthesizing information and finding innovative solutions to problems, working with instruments at tasks requiring precision, and directing the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Many chemists begin their post-secondary education by taking a four 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 four 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


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.


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 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


Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Chemists work in virtually every industry sector. They are employed in:

  • research, development and quality control laboratories
  • chemical, petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries
  • mineral, metal, and pulp and paper industries
  • manufacturing and utility companies 
  • health, educational, environmental and government establishments.

Experienced chemists may advance to senior management positions or start their own consulting and service businesses.

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

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

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 1,900 Albertans are employed in the Chemists occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.1% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 21 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

NOC code: 2112

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $16.83 $49.10 $30.90 $30.06
Overall $22.60 $55.53 $39.01 $38.46
Top $26.44 $65.06 $45.80 $42.50

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
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


2015 Vacancy Rate

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

Association of the Chemical Profession of Alberta (ACPA) website:

Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) website:

CIC Calgary Section website:

CIC Edmonton Section website:

International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Jan 04, 2013. 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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