Chemists and materials scientists search for and use new knowledge about chemicals. Chemical research has led to the discovery and development of new and improved synthetic fibers, paints, adhesives, drugs, cosmetics, electronic components, lubricants, and thousands of other products. Chemists and materials scientists also develop processes such as improved oil refining and petrochemical processing that save energy and reduce pollution.
Hours: Chemists and materials scientists typically work regular hours. A 40-hour workweek is usual, but longer hours are not uncommon. Researchers may be required to work odd hours in laboratories or other locations, depending on the nature of their research.
Opportunities: Average job growth is expected. New chemists at all levels may experience competition for jobs, particularly in declining chemical manufacturing industries. Graduates with a master's degree or a Ph.D., will enjoy better opportunities, especially at larger pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms.
Pay: Median annual earnings of chemists in 2006 were $59,870. The middle 50 percent earned between $44,780 and $82,610. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $106,310. Median annual earnings of materials scientists in 2006 were $74,610. The middle 50 percent earned between $55,170 and $96,800. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,810, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $118,670.
A bachelor's degree in chemistry or a related discipline usually is the minimum educational requirement for entry-level chemist jobs. While some materials scientists hold a degree in materials science, degrees in chemistry, physics, or electrical engineering are also common. Most research jobs in chemistry and materials science require a master's degree or, more frequently, a Ph.D.Citation: Suggested citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition , Chemists and Materials Scientists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos049.htm (visited July 22, 2009 ).
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