Chemical technicians play a vital role in a variety of industries by working with chemists and chemical engineers to develop, test, and manufacture chemical products. These technicians are highly skilled scientific professionals who are critical members of scientific teams
that conduct much of the hands-on work that is required.
Some technicians assist senior researchers in the laboratory, but many work independently to collect valuable information for review. Chemical technicians work in laboratories, making sure that processes are carried out safely, cost-effectively, and according to the highest professional standards.
Chemical technicians work in every aspect of the chemical process industry—from basic research to hazardous waste management. For some people, accepting a chemical technician position is a great way to test the waters before deciding whether to join the industrial chemistry workforce on a permanent basis, while others may want to dive right in and enjoy a variable and rewarding lifetime career.
Types of Chemical Technicians
- Laboratory technician —operates standard laboratory equipment and conducts laboratory procedures ranging from routine process control to complex research projects.
- Process technician— performs chemical tests and experiments for quality, performance, or composition.
Typical Work Duties
- Set up apparatus for chemical reactions.
- Help devise and troubleshoot syntheses and analytical procedures.
- Manage databases.
- Ensure that packaging of hazardous materials complies with regulations.
- Work in pilot plants, assisting engineers with running experiments in a miniature version of a manufacturing process.
- Interest in scientific and technical areas.
- Familiarity with common laboratory equipment, instrumentation, and analytical techniques.
- Observational and record keeping skills to track conditions, procedures, deviations, and results of experiments.
- Analytical and critical thinking skills to evaluate not only the results of experiments but also the procedures used to obtain them.
The education of a chemical technician does not stop when entering the chemical industry. Continuing one’s professional development is important because of the additional responsibilities technicians have today. As a result of the hands-on knowledge they have accumulated, many technicians decide to continue their formal education to obtain higher degrees and do so with support from their employers.
Some companies have well-defined career ladders for technicians, but, dedication and hard work are generally the main criteria for advancement. Other abilities such as adaptability, organizational skills, personal motivation, customer focus, and teamwork are also considered when looking at advancement potential. Skills are often transferable, and technicians today are more able to move between companies than they have been in the past.
Original content at acs.org