Research chemists

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Research chemists work in a range of industries on products including cosmetics, electronics and pharmaceuticals.

Research chemists study chemical compounds and use this research to create and improve processes and products, from new drugs and medical treatments to manufactured goods such as cosmetics, electrical goods and food and drink. Research chemists will mainly be laboratory-based. Possible research themes include: chemical biology, computational chemistry, green chemistry, materials chemistry, medicinal chemistry and synthesis.

  • working as part of a team in a research laboratory

  • setting up laboratory equipment and conducting tests and experiments

  • recording and analysing data

  • presenting results to senior research staff

  • researching and writing papers, reports and reviews

  • preparing funding applications

  • supervising junior staff, including laboratory technicians

  • keeping up to date with relevant scientific and technical developments

If you’re a research chemist in an academic setting, you can also expect to get involved in the teaching side, giving lectures to chemistry students at your university.


Qualifications and training required


You can only become a research chemist if you have a good degree (a 2.1 or above) in a relevant science subject such as chemistry or biochemistry.

A relevant postgraduate qualification such as a research-based masters or a PhD is also normally required, particularly for permanent positions or senior research positions.


Key skills for research chemists


  • Patience and determination

  • Flexibility

  • Scientific and numerical skills

  • A logical and independent mind

  • Excellent analytical skills

  • Meticulous attention to detail and accuracy

  • Teamwork and interpersonal skills

  • Written and oral communication skills

  • Excellent IT skills


Typical employers of research chemists


  • Chemical companies

  • Government and private laboratories

  • Environmental agencies

  • Public funded research councils

  • Universities

  • Food and drink manufacturers

  • Materials companies

  • Consumer goods manufacturers

  • Pharmaceutical companies


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Who is a Research chemists?

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