What Are the Duties of Analytical Chemists?


Analytical chemists use a wide range of scientific methods to explore the chemical nature of substances. They aim to identify and comprehend the nature of matter and how it reacts under various conditions. Analytical chemists conduct a range of chemical research activities for industry, academic research purposes and government. They perform laboratory research, design lab instruments, develop procedures and fulfill teaching roles. The average salary of an analytical chemist as of July 2010 was $55,000, according to the Indeed job and salary information website.

Pharmaceutical Research

  • Analytical chemists are employed by the pharmaceutical industry to develop and test new drugs. They use a range of laboratory equipment to examine the chemical consistency of a range of substances, performing lab tests and data analysis to assess the quality of safety of their chemical makeup. Analytical chemists in these roles also work in research positions where they initiate and develop new techniques for testing chemical substances.

Environmental Research

  • Government agencies employ analytical chemists to assess the quality and safety of a town or city’s water supply. Analytical chemists also investigate the presence of chemical pollution in the air and soil of an area.

Food Industry

  • An analytical chemist can also be hired by the food industry. In this role, he works closely with food scientists to assess the quality of core ingredients and the level of harmful chemicals present in finished food products.

Technical Duties

  • An analytical chemist uses a range of scientific techniques and instrumentation in her daily tasks. These include complex computer software, high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and spectroscopy (covering the infrared and ultraviolet field). An analytical chemist is expected to undertake continuing education during employment to keep aware of any new lab or instrumentation techniques for testing and analysis.

Reporting Duties

  • Analytical chemists require excellent communication skills, as they are expected to compile written reports offering interpretation of the results of testing and data analysis. An analytical chemist may also be required to make oral presentations to senior researchers to justify his interpretation of findings.


  • Analytical chemists traditionally use robots and instrumentation to prepare and test samples. According to the American Chemical Society, these processes are increasingly becoming automated, meaning analytical chemists are less in demand for specimen preparation and analysis.

    However, the shift in working practice has led to an increase in demand for quality assurance specialists who can oversee lab activities to ensure they fall within approved procedures. New instrumentation and data management systems have also created positions for analytical chemists with mechanical and computing skills.

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