What Is an Organic Research Chemist?
Organic research chemists deal with the properties, structure and reactions of carbon-based compounds and hydrocarbons. Using their knowledge of organic chemistry, they plan and implement research pertaining to the specific discipline in which they work.
They design, synthesize and test materials as requested by their project leader, which, in many cases, leads to the development of new products. They work in teams consisting of engineers and fellow chemists, all of whom must possess excellent communications skills in order to complete tasks in a timely manner.
During projects, organic research chemists are expected to record and analyze data and prepare presentations for other departments. They must be familiar with the basic technology used in labs and be willing to quickly learn new technology as it’s introduced. Those who work for newer companies or organizations may be required to develop operating procedures for equipment.
How to Become an Organic Research Chemist
Aspiring organic research chemists typically major in chemistry, but those who major in chemical engineering also enjoy successful careers in the field. A chemistry degree consists of several courses that prove invaluable to the organic research chemist, namely organic chemistry and organic lab, the latter of which offers basic hands-on experience.
Students become familiar with organic molecules, how they’re composed, they’re functions and their interactions with inorganic compounds, and later apply their knowledge in the health and industry fields. Chemical engineering majors are required to take the same organic chemistry classes in addition to the typical chemical engineering classes.
With the help of internships and part-time jobs related to the discipline, graduates in both majors should gain technical, analytical and problem-solving skills that will enable them to deal with the wide array of challenges presented in the lab. Of course, familiarity with lab equipment and the research process is essential.
Organic Research Chemist Career Outlook & Salary
Slower-than-average job growth is expected to occur for all chemist occupations. The somewhat pessimistic outlook can be attributed to the decline of chemical manufacturing industries that increasingly utilize R&D services firms for research instead of using their own chemists.
On the plus side, demand is expected in technical, scientific and professional service firms, where the manufacturing companies’ chemist positions are transferred in most cases. Biotechnology firms in particular need well-trained chemists as they develop new solutions of illnesses and diseases. Chemists perform important work, and they see respectable salaries as a result.
The median yearly wage for chemists in 2008 was $66,230, with the highest being paid in the federal executive branch, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Entry-level workers average just fewer than $40,000 during their first year.