Analytical Chemists

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Analytical chemists assess the chemical structure and nature of substances. Their skills are needed for a variety of purposes including drug development, forensic analysis and toxicology.

Analytical chemists analyse samples using a range of techniques such as electro-chromatography, high performance liquid chromatography and spectroscopy. They are employed by a variety of public and private sector organisations, and can specialise in areas such as toxicology, pharmaceuticals, quality control or forensics. Typical responsibilities include:

  • using a range of software, techniques and equipment to carry out research and analysis

  • analysing and interpreting data

  • making sure that data is accurately recorded in accordance with guidelines

  • reporting and presenting results

  • writing research papers, reports, reviews and summaries

  • keeping up to date with scientific and technical developments

  • ensuring that health and safety standards are adhered to

  • preparing product licence documentation

  • liaising with customers, suppliers and research/scientific staff

  • developing new analytical methods


Qualifications and training required


You can only become an analytical chemist if you have a good honours degree in a relevant subject such as chemistry, applied/analytical chemistry or biochemistry. There are also opportunities for geochemists, materials scientists, mathematicians and environmental scientists within the field of analytical chemistry. Practical research/laboratory work experience is helpful, although full training on the job is often available.

A postgraduate qualification in analytical chemistry may be beneficial for careers in research or for career advancement in the long term and may allow entry to the profession at a more senior level.


Key skills for analytical chemists


Analytical work demands patience, determination, creativity, flexibility and decisiveness. Employers increasingly look for both research and transferable skills including:

  • a logical and independent mind

  • the motivation and ability to solve complex problems

  • a systematic approach to tasks

  • theoretical knowledge of analytical techniques

  • the ability to develop and validate new methods

  • excellent IT skills

  • numerical and analytical ability

  • teamworking

  • responsibility

  • communication and presentation skills


Typical employers of analytical chemists


  • Government agencies

  • Publicly funded research councils

  • Hospitals

  • Universities

  • Public health laboratories

  • Environmental agencies

  • Specialist research organisations

  • Consultancies

  • Testing companies

  • Private food, materials, polymers, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and chemical companies


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How to become an Analytical Chemists?

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