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Medical

Chemist

Chemists look at the chemical make up of substances and investigate how they behave under different conditions.

Annual Salary

£15,609 to £40,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; occasionally

3.4%
Future employment

There will be 3.4% more Chemist jobs in 2026.

Day to day tasks

Your tasks will depend on the sector you work in.

You could:

  • 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
  • write reports and present your findings
  • supervise the work of other team members, such as laboratory technicians

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work at a research facility or in a laboratory.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
University

You'll usually need a degree qualification to become a chemist.

Subjects you could take include:

  • chemistry
  • applied or analytical chemistry
  • biochemistry

As well as a degree, 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 a job or further postgraduate study.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including chemistry
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information
Apprenticeship

The following apprenticeships may be relevant to this role:

  • Level 5 Technician Scientist
  • Level 6 Laboratory Scientist
  • Level 7 Research Scientist

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
For more information
Work

You could start your career as a laboratory technician. You can train as a chemist by doing a relevant qualification while you work.

More information

Career tips

Laboratory experience would be useful for this career.

Professional and industry bodies

Some degrees and apprenticeships may make you eligible to apply for registered Scientist or Chartered Chemist status.

You can find out more from:your university or training provider; the Science Council; the Royal Society of Chemistry

Further information

You can get more advice about becoming a chemist from:The Royal Society of Chemistry's careers site A Future in Chemistry; the Science Council

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You'll find opportunities with a wide range of employers including:the NHS; public health laboratories; research institutes; government agencies; private industry

You could be involved in research and development, patent work, health and safety or forensic science. You could also move into teaching or science communication.

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

A Future in Chemistry has information about careers in chemistry.

Future Morph has information on careers in science.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • maths knowledge
  • science skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • complex problem-solving skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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