Quick Facts: Chemists and Materials Scientists
2012 Median Pay $73,060 per year
$35.13 per hour
Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 96,200
Job Outlook, 2012-22 6% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 5,400

What Chemists and Materials Scientists Do

Chemists and materials scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and the ways in which substances react with each other. They use their knowledge to develop new and improved products and to test the quality of manufactured goods.

Work Environment

Chemists and materials scientists work in laboratories and offices. They typically work full time and keep regular hours.

How to Become a Chemist or Materials Scientist

Chemists and materials scientists need at least a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a related field. However, a master’s degree or Ph.D. is needed for many research jobs.


In May 2012, the median annual wage for chemists was $71,770. The median annual wage of materials scientists was $88,990 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of chemists and materials scientists is projected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Chemists and materials scientists with an advanced degree, particularly those with a Ph.D., are expected to experience better opportunities.


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