25 of the Highest Paying Chemistry Jobs in 2023
The best Chemistry jobs can pay up to $175,000 per year.
You can apply knowledge of chemistry to a variety of different careers. You can work as a research chemist in a laboratory, or you could work as a product development chemist in the pharmaceutical industry. Biochemists use their knowledge in medical research or a clinical setting, while forensic chemists are involved in law enforcement and legal affairs. As a chemist, you may also advise the government on policy or work for an agency and organization to address chemical safety and toxicity. You may also use a chemistry degree to enter the field of education as a chemistry teacher.
A chemistry degree is flexible because it qualifies you to work in a variety of fields. With a degree and job experience, you can work in chemical research, studying how chemicals react in specific situations and how people can take advantage of these reactions and properties. Chemical engineering involves using chemicals to make or enhance products. Chemistry skills are also in demand in the healthcare industry and pharmaceutical research. Finally, a chemistry degree can qualify you to work in the public sector in law, forensics, chemical inspections, or regulation.
High Paying Chemistry Jobs
Salary range: $120,000-$175,000 per year
Medicinal chemists, also known as pharmaceutical chemists, seek to discover new natural elements from plants for medicinal use and create new synthetic drug compounds. They study drug reactions and develop new therapeutic agents with synthetic organic chemistry for drug formulas. Working with a team of scientists, medicinal chemists evaluate and test new pharmaceutical products before moving the drug to chemical trials. Medicinal chemists also improve and streamline current drug processes to make production more cost-effective.
Salary range: $113,000-$128,500 per year
The duties of a wet chemistry analyst involve working with chemical samples in a lab environment. Common responsibilities are to collect samples, interpret data, and document or report results. This field is known as “wet chemistry” because most research methodologies require you to work with chemical elements in liquid form (contained in beakers, for example). Qualifications include a postsecondary degree and experience.
Salary range: $82,500-$114,500 per year
A chemical process engineer’s responsibilities cover designing and developing processes for transforming raw materials into marketable products. You can hold a chemical process engineer job in an industry that processes natural gases, paper, pharmaceuticals, plastic, food, and other products. You will analyze procedures, communicate effectively with team members, apply math, science, and engineering concepts, and conduct experiments and report the results. Many types of chemical engineering careers exist in chemical production and manufacturing, mineral processing, oil exploration, sustainable engineering, and alternative energy fields. However, you can find chemical engineers with diverse duties in jobs in nearly every industry that creates a product.
Salary range: $69,000-$112,000 per year
A research chemist experiments with different chemical compounds to discover new applications for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, electronics, and products in several different industries. In your career as a research chemist, must of your work will focus on specific scientific procedures. Your job duties include examining how chemical compounds interact, applying your findings to consumer products, and experimenting with improvements and innovations to products and scientific methods. The qualifications for this job include a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and at least one year of laboratory work experience. Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills are essential.
Salary range: $59,000-$110,000 per year
A formulation chemist helps in the product testing and development of pharmaceuticals or household products, like cleaners, cosmetics, and soaps. Your duties include mixing different agents or compounds and performing tests, such as UV tests, to determine product safety and potential for use. Some formulation chemists work in other industries such as the oil and gas industry where they inspect octane levels for car fuel. You might also find work as a cosmetic chemist where you test makeup and perfumes. Others work in the food industry, testing and creating ingredients and flavor additives.
Salary range: $67,500-$106,500 per year
Chemical Engineers design and develop manufacturing processes for various chemicals. They can work in a variety of industries, including pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, food processing, environmental health, health care, and design and construction. In this job, you can expect to research new methods for manufacturing chemicals, create these processes, estimate the cost of production, and draft and implement related safety procedures to ensure the well-being of employees who will work with those chemicals.
Salary range: $73,500-$105,000 per year
A lab pack chemist is responsible for handling hazardous waste materials. In this career, your responsibilities are to oversee the transport and disposal of lab packs, which is a method of shipping for moving and handling hazardous chemicals by placing a smaller container full of hazardous materials into a larger container. Your duties as a lab pack chemist are to ensure that waste materials are professionally and safely managed and handled to ensure no environmental contamination or health hazards occur due to dangerous chemical exposure.
Salary range: $61,500-$105,000 per year
Synthetic chemists make chemicals for industrial, manufacturing, and even retail use. A synthetic chemist can work in a variety of fields, such as food science, pharmaceuticals, fuel technology, or cleaning products. As a synthetic chemist, your job duties are to test compounds, assess molecule reaction, and work on purification processes. Qualifications for this career depend on the specific industry, but you should at least have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, chemical engineering, or a closely related subject. You should also have lab experience and strong analytical problem-solving skills.
Salary range: $37,000-$104,500 per year
A chemical operations specialist deals with dangerous and potentially toxic chemical materials. A chemical operations specialist may work for the National Guard or other military services. Their responsibilities are to decontaminate an area and test liquid, gaseous, or solid materials for chemical toxicity and other potential hazards. They also work on scooping or dumping materials to remove them. As a civilian, a chemical operations worker often fills or empties containers with chemicals and transports them between locations.
Salary range: $69,000-$99,000 per year
A physical chemist studies how matter works on a molecular level and how a chemical reaction occurs. As a physical chemist, your responsibilities vary based on the industry in which you choose to work, but you often work closely with materials scientists in a laboratory, conducting research and developing uses for new materials. You can take on a career as an analytical chemist where you use various methods such as diffraction, infrared, and microscopy to assemble molecules, see how they grow, and determine how they add different properties to products. Your primary duties in this position include analyzing materials and developing ways to test and characterize their properties. Equipment you use includes analytical instruments such as mass spectrometers, electron microscopes, and lasers.
Salary range: $67,000-$98,500 per year
Senior chemists do much of the same work as other chemists in a lab, but they have several years of research experience and often hold graduate degrees. As a senior chemist, you conduct experiments and analyze testing of elements and compounds for a company or organization. Specific job duties vary, depending on the organization and industry. For example, you may work on product development for a makeup company, test medicinal compounds for a pharmaceutical lab, or examine the safety of natural resources for a government agency. You may also supervise other lab chemists and lab assistants and troubleshoot issues with the research project or equipment. To become a senior chemist, you need a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biochemistry, or a related field, though many employers prefer candidates with graduate degrees. You also need several years of lab experience to work your way up to a senior chemist position.
Salary range: $83,500-$92,500 per year
As an organic chemist, you can do a variety of science-based jobs depending on your desired specialization, but most positions involve analyzing carbon-based materials, from their molecular structure to chemical properties. You can do analysis on living organisms, new pharmaceuticals, and more. You may work on creating new molecules based on one found in nature and conduct research to learn the processes that work most effectively. Responsibilities include using advanced technology like nuclear magnetic resonance to study magnetic fields around atomic nuclei and chromatography tools for separating substances into their individual compounds. You spend much of your time writing reports and documenting your findings.
Salary range: $58,000-$87,500 per year
A polymer chemist works with molecular or atomic materials to study the way these molecules form and bond. Polymers, or long strings of molecules, can be manipulated by scientists to be used in products such as nylon clothing, pharmaceuticals, plastics, paints, and Teflon-coated pans. In this career, your job duties include both creating new materials and conducting research to make existing materials and products better. You conduct various tests in a lab using different methods to find solutions. You can find work in a pharmaceutical company, chemical manufacturer, or in the energy industry. The qualifications needed for a career as a polymer chemist include a Ph.D. in chemistry and significant on-the-job training.
Salary range: $39,000-$81,000 per year
A textile chemist applies technical knowledge of chemistry to the production and manufacture of textiles, such as clothes and furniture. In this role, your job duties may focus on a specific part of the process, such as dyeing, quality assurance, or research and development of new techniques or fibers. Qualifications for a career as a textile chemist include a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and experience with textile materials. In some positions, an advanced degree is necessary. An eye for detail and analytical problem-solving skills are crucial.
Salary range: $38,000-$78,500 per year
Industrial chemists work with chemical engineers to turn breakthroughs in chemical science into mass-produced goods. Your duties include improving existing chemical production technology, methods, materials, and processes. This career requires a number of qualifications such as education, job training, and specialized skills. You should have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a closely related field, and experience working in a lab setting. Important qualities for the job include analytical problem-solving and the ability to collaborate with others.
Salary range: $59,000-$78,500 per year
A forensic chemist usually assists medical examiners with post-mortem toxicology and evidence, but forensic roles can extend beyond investigations into causes of death. Responsibilities include processing information and chemicals, analyzing toxicology reports, performing chemical tests on specimens, and working with a team of experts to draw conclusions based on the data. Duties can also consist of managing computer programs and processes, working with chemicals and lab tools, following laboratory safety regulations, and applying forensic science to solve mysteries. Forensic science uses science, chemistry, and minute details to draw conclusions and decipher clues.
Salary range: $53,500-$76,000 per year
A quality control chemist (QC chemist) is a specific type of laboratory chemist, whose primary duties are to measure and test lab materials and products according to industry-specific standard procedures. Jobs are typically in the pharmaceutical or manufacturing fields. As a QC chemist, you assure adherence to all federal regulations and safety procedures. In addition to performing rigorous quality assurance of samples, some QC chemists are responsible for calibrating and performing maintenance on lab equipment. Relevant qualifications for this career include a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, experience in a chemistry lab setting, and skills like attention to detail and the ability to multitask.
Salary range: $51,500-$75,000 per year
An analytical chemist is a scientist who works in a laboratory conducting analytical chemistry experiments for a variety of purposes. As an analytical chemist, your responsibilities and duties include overseeing experiments to analyze how chemical compounds interact. You may work under the supervision of a senior research chemist in an entry-level position, calibrating instrumentation and collecting data. You must record data accurately so that the results are as sound as possible. This kind of research is widely used in the pharmaceutical, food, petroleum, and environmental science industries, and others.
Salary range: $65,000-$75,000 per year
A cosmetic chemist researches or develops cosmetics, including skincare, toothpaste, dyes, soaps, and makeup products. Their responsibilities may include researching materials, developing and testing new compounds, and writing technical reports. Their goal is to understand and improve the chemical makeup of products.
Salary range: $50,000-$74,000 per year
Chemists work with matter to uncover elements of complex substances and to create completely new chemical compounds. They seek to understand all aspects of the individual chemicals. Most Chemists specialize in a sub-discipline of chemistry, such as neurochemistry, biochemistry, theoretical chemistry, or nuclear chemistry. Chemistry has a number of specialty areas. Forensic chemists work with law enforcement to aid in criminal investigations. Biochemists focus on chemical reactions within living organisms, delving into cellular-level examination to produce everything from DNA therapies to pharmaceutical drugs. Neurochemists specialize in the study of molecules, neurochemicals, and other aspects of the biological nervous system. Nuclear Chemists concentrate on nuclear matter and radioactivity. In order to create treatments to prevent or reverse the adverse effects of radiation on the cellular level, they analyze how radiation affects living things. Theoretical Chemists explore more nebulous or lesser known chemical processes and reactions. This sub-discipline deals with topics like molecular dynamics, quantum chemistry, quantum mechanics, and statistical thermodynamics.
Salary range: $49,500-$67,500 per year
A biochemist plans and conducts projects in applied and basic biochemical research, prepares technical reports, recommendations, and papers, and presents findings to colleagues, engineers, and other scientists surrounding the detection of illnesses, diseases, and genetic disorders. Their findings help improve medical treatments and processes. They also manage lab teams, research the effects of substances on organisms, and isolate, analyze, and synthesize DNA, proteins, and enzymes.
Salary range: $57,000-$65,500 per year
Combining both engineering skills and a scientific background, a biochemical engineer studies the nature of chemical functions and uses research to develop or improve products. As a biochemical engineer, your job duties involve consulting with scientists to evaluate technology and products, using studies to recommend changes to processes or operations, and leading experiments to improve production while minimizing waste. You also design experimental activities within laboratories to ensure compliance with biohazard regulations and maintain databases of experiment-related information. The materials you work with may be organic or lab-made depending on your field of expertise.
Salary range: $48,500-$64,000 per year
An associate chemist works in a chemistry lab and performs material analysis, chemical tests, and other research experiments under the supervision of a lead chemist or more senior researcher. Your duties and responsibilities differ based on where you work. Associate chemists work in numerous industries, including pharmacies, pharmaceutical manufacturing, medical research and development, industrial production, and oil and gas exploration and refining. Depending on the field, you may have specific duties related to a specialization, such as forensic chemistry or inorganic chemistry.
Salary range: $37,500-$61,000 per year
Inorganic chemists work in the science field to study the properties of inorganic chemical compounds, such as metals and minerals. Your duties include taking samples; using specialized equipment to research and investigate molecules, substances, and mixtures; and developing highly complex analyses of your findings. You typically work in a lab, running experiments to determine the safety and use of compounds or materials. Qualifications for a career as an inorganic chemist include higher education, job training, experience, and skills. You must have a bachelor’s or master’s in chemistry, and be excellent at analytical problem-solving, paying close attention to detail, and understanding both organic and inorganic chemistry.
Salary range: $44,000-$59,000 per year
An entry-level chemist has many responsibilities including helping project managers with analyzing data, writing reports, and setting up, calibrating, operating, and maintaining lab equipment. In this job, you also handle paperwork, ensuring it is complete and accurate. You should use this time to develop analytical skills, gain experience with laboratory experiment procedures, and learn any necessary protocols. Qualifications include a bachelor’s or master’s degree in chemistry and 2-5 years of relevant experience within the industry or an academic setting. Communication and research are crucial in this career, as one of your main duties is to ensure your procedural and analytic techniques are up to date.
70+ Chemistry Jobs in the Ashburn, VA area
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