There are thousands of jobs available in specialty chemicals, including jobs for entry-level and experienced professionals. So, whether you have a bachelor’s degree or a Ph.D. in chemistry or a related field, you can easily find the right job position for you. Luckily, hundreds if not thousands of companies within the US and worldwide are hiring individuals specializing in specialty chemicals.
If you’re enthusiastic about getting a job in specialty chemicals but you don’t know how to get started, here’s everything you need to know about the highest-paying specialty chemicals jobs. In this article, you will also find general information about the industries hiring professionals in specialty chemicals. To make things even easier for you, the article will discuss the education and experience requirements for a job in specialty chemicals.
What Types of Jobs Are Available in Specialty Chemicals?
There are many different types of jobs available in specialty chemicals, ranging from jobs involving basic tasks to positions full of challenges. So, whether you have just graduated with a degree in chemistry or you have years of experience in the field, you can easily find a job in specialty chemicals.
The specialty chemicals sector focuses on analyzing, testing, improving, and creating chemicals that serve a specific purpose. These include adhesives, sealants, thermoplastics, paints, coatings, industrial cleaners, agricultural chemicals, lubricants, fragrances, food additives, flavors, antibiotics, and many more.
Depending on your level of experience and job position, you will be responsible for completing a variety of tasks when working in specialty chemicals. For instance, your job might be to run basic laboratory tests or work as an associate chemist under the supervision of a lead chemist.
You can also get a job in specialty chemicals that requires the knowledge of analytical chemistry and the understanding of techniques used for qualitative and quantitative analysis.
Best-Paying Jobs in Specialty Chemicals
The chemical industry, in general, is considered one of the most versatile and job-rich sectors worldwide. Therefore, there are plenty of job positions chemists, biologists, and biochemists can choose from. And the specialty chemicals sector is no exception.
Some of the best-paying jobs in specialty chemicals include laboratory technician, academic researcher, associate chemist, lead chemist, chemical engineer, analytical chemist, organic chemist, biochemist, synthetic chemist, pharmacologist, toxicologist, research and development chemist, and quality control analyst.
Below you can find detailed information about the best specialty chemicals jobs, including the number of jobs posted during the 30-day period and the average salary in the US according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, indeed, ZipRecruiter, Payscale, and Salary.com.
Number of Jobs – 20,000+
Average Salary – $48,990 per year
Laboratory technician is an entry-level job that involves assisting scientists by running some tests and conducting experiments. Laboratory technicians can be employed in production and manufacturing as well as in research and development industries in specialty chemicals.
While lab technicians are required to conduct routine tasks, the responsibilities vary greatly based on the type of industry they work in. Typically, the duties of a lab technician include measuring, sampling, testing, recording data, and analyzing the results.
Number of Jobs – 25,500+
Average Salary – $58,963 per year
Academic researchers focus on gathering project data to analyze the results and publish the findings in peer-reviewed journals. Along with issuing research papers, writing reports, and publishing books or chapters of books, academic researchers work not only for academic institutions (university-based researchers) but also for companies.
If you are enthusiastic about conducting studies in various fields or enriching scholarly literature is something you’re passionate about, working as an academic researcher in specialty chemicals might be the right choice.
Number of Jobs – 30,000+
Average Salary – $61,544 per year
An associate chemist works in a laboratory and performs tests, analyses, and experiments under the supervision of a lead chemist. While the responsibilities of an associate chemist are pretty similar to those of a lab technician, an associate chemist is a person with a degree in chemistry. On the other hand, you can become a lab technician after being trained to perform specific lab tests.
Working as an associate chemist is pretty much essential for gaining sufficient knowledge and experience to become a lead chemist and be involved in more complex experiments and research projects.
Number of Jobs – 20,000+
Average Salary – $82,538 per year
A team of chemists usually needs a chemist who will head the group while working on a given project or task. This is exactly what a lead chemist is responsible for. Along with supervising team members, lead chemists are required to perform tests, conduct experiments, analyze the data, and craft reports of findings.
Considering the level of knowledge and experience lead chemists need to perform their duties, companies typically search for chemists with advanced degrees and years of experience in the field.
Number of Jobs – 10,000+
Average Salary – $105,550 per year
Chemical engineers apply the knowledge of chemistry, biology, mathematics, and physics to design and create production processes or improve already-existing ones. According to BLS, chemical engineers are responsible for monitoring and directing operations at industrial plants, refineries, or other locations while taking part in solving various problems on-site.
To work as a chemical engineer, you will need an educational background in chemical engineering or a related field. An understanding of chemical, biological, mathematical, and physical concepts is pretty much a must.
Number of Jobs – 11,000+
Average Salary – $59,253 per year
The primary responsibilities of analytical chemists are performing qualitative and quantitative analysis to assist scientists working on the development and production of specialty chemicals. Analytical chemists are absolutely crucial for testing samples as well as verifying that the chemicals are synthesized according to health and safety standards.
As an analytical chemist, you will spend most of your time in a laboratory performing basic tests using different analytical techniques and equipment. You will then analyze the data and share the results with your colleagues.
Number of Jobs – 10,000+
Average Salary – $65,108 per year
Organic chemists focus on studying the structure, properties, and chemical reactions of organic molecules to design and create organic substances with unique chemical properties. As specialty chemicals serve a specific purpose, organic chemists are crucial for developing substances that can be used for different applications.
As an organic chemist, you will work in tandem with other scientists to develop new specialty chemicals or enhance the properties of what’s already available.
Number of Jobs – 15,000+
Average Salary – $102,270 per year
As specialty chemicals include drugs, such as antibiotics, the role of biochemists in the industry is absolutely crucial. By combining the knowledge of chemistry and biology, biochemists study the chemical processes and transformations occurring in living organisms.
As a biochemist working in specialty chemicals, your primary role will be to research and identify the potential effects of specialty chemicals, such as antibiotics and hormones, on tissues or biological processes taking place in living organisms.
Number of Jobs – 5,000+
Average Salary – $69,694 per year
Synthetic chemists are widely hired in various specialty chemicals sectors. As specialty chemicals require research, development, synthesis, and testing, synthetic chemists are essential in this field.
Working as a synthetic chemist makes you responsible for testing compounds to check the quality of substances, performing experiments to achieve the ideal composition and properties of chemicals, and working on purification processes to increase the purity of synthesized specialty chemicals.
Number of Jobs – 5,000+
Average Salary – $123,748 per year
Along with chemists and biochemists, pharmacologists are also involved in the process of designing and creating specialty chemicals, such as drugs. Pharmacologists explore how drugs interact with living organisms through in vitro and in vivo studies.
As a pharmacologist, you will be responsible for determining the effects of certain drugs on humans. Therefore, you will need adequate knowledge and sufficient experience to work in this field.
Number of Jobs – 9,000+
Average Salary – $82,534 per year
As most specialty chemicals are considered toxic substances that can hurt you, it is important to determine the potential harmful effects of chemicals before manufacturing them on a larger scale. Toxicologists are responsible for testing how safe given substances are and how they affect human health when consumed or being exposed to.
To successfully determine the harmful effects of different specialty chemicals, toxicologists should have a strong understanding of various sciences, including but not limited to chemistry, biology, and biochemistry.
Research and Development Chemist
Number of Jobs – 2,000+
Average Salary – $77,233 per year
Manufacturing high-quality specialty chemicals requires extensive research, tests, and experiments. Therefore, companies often hire research and development scientists to conduct research and develop new formulations to improve the overall quality and effectiveness of specialty chemicals.
As a research and development chemist, you will work in tandem with other scientists to design and create new specialty chemical formulations as well as enhance the properties of existing ones.
Quality Control Analyst
Number of Jobs – 1,500+
Average Salary – $61,833 per year
Ensuring that specialty chemicals are produced according to industry-specific standards, companies hire quality control chemists who are responsible for testing materials, products, and processes involved in the production of given specialty chemicals.
As a quality control analyst, your primary duty will be to develop methods for analyzing different substances and products while working on the improvement of current techniques and processes.
Which Industries Offer Specialty Chemicals Jobs?
Whether you are interested in pharmaceuticals or you are more into agricultural chemicals, there are numerous industries offering thousands of jobs in specialty chemicals. These include:
- Chemical Industries
- Education Sector
- Food and Drink
- Healthcare/Medical Industry
- Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
- Oil and Gas Industries
- Textiles and Clothing Industries
Obviously, finding a suitable job in specialty chemicals can be pretty easy as there are plenty of options to choose from.
What’s the Average Salary of Individuals Working in Specialty Chemicals?
The salary of chemists working in specialty chemicals varies based on their experience level and the industry/company they are working at. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of chemists and material scientists was $79,760/year in 2021. This is equal to approximately $38.34/hour.
What Are the Education Requirements for Specialty Chemicals Jobs?
As mentioned earlier, companies searching for chemists specializing in specialty chemicals hire both entry-level and experienced individuals. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics mentions that individuals typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a related field to get a job in specialty chemicals.
However, high-paying jobs in specialty chemicals will most likely ask for a master’s degree, Ph.D., or postdoctoral experience in the field. As specialty chemicals are usually toxic and require special handling, you may also be required to complete a training program.
Where Can You Find Jobs in Specialty Chemicals?
There are several ways you can find a job in specialty chemicals. Some of the best options include:
- Use job search engines and job boards, such as Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and ZipRecruiter;
- Be involved in professional organizations and events to find a job through networking;
- Attend job fairs to meet with company representatives searching for potential employees.
If it seems a bit challenging to find the desired job in the specialty chemicals industry through networking, keep in mind that there are numerous online resources available.