Job type


£18k - £40k

Typical salary

39 – 41

Hours per week

Chemists study chemicals and materials and how they behave under different conditions.

More info

  • Requires scientific, numerical and technical skills, and a logical approach to solving problems
  • Option to move into careers like teaching and the media
  • Your job may involve some travelling, for fieldwork or going to meetings and conferences


  • Invent and develop new medicines and products
  • Investigate environmental issues
  • Diagnose and treat illness and disease
  • Analyse forensic evidence
  • Teach, lecture, and carry out academic research.
  • Design and conduct laboratory experiments
  • Make observations and note results
  • Write reports and present your findings
  • Supervise the work of support staff such as laboratory technicians
  • Carry out other administrative work


Much of your work will take place in a laboratory. 

Some travelling may be involved, for fieldwork or going to meetings and conferences.

You'll need

Chemists require skills such as scientific, numerical and technical skills, excellent problem solving skills and must be thorough and pay attention to detail.

You'll usually need a degree in chemistry, applied or analytical chemistry, biochemistry, or a related scientific subject.

Many employers will also want you to have a relevant postgraduate qualification. Some universities offer an extended degree which leads directly to a postgraduate qualification like an MChem or MSci. These courses have more independent research and can lead directly into professional practice or further postgraduate study. You'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including maths and a science, at least 2 or 3 A levels, including chemistry and a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study.

You could start your career as a laboratory technician and train as a chemist while working by doing a relevant qualification.

You may also be able to get into this career through a laboratory scientist higher apprenticeship.

Laboratory experience would be useful for this career.

You'll usually be able to find work with a wide range of employers including the NHS, public health laboratories, research institutes and government agencies.


As a chemist working in industry, you could be involved in research and development, patent work, health and safety or forensic science.

You could also move into teaching or a career in the media.

As an experienced chemist you could work towards chartered status like Chartered Chemist (CChem) and Chartered Scientist (CSci).