Chemical technicians use laboratory instruments and techniques to help scientists analyze the properties of materials.


Chemical technicians typically do the following:

  • Monitor chemical processes and test product quality to make sure that they meet standards and specifications
  • Set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment
  • Maintain production equipment and troubleshoot problems
  • Prepare chemical solutions
  • Conduct, compile, and interpret results of chemical and physical experiments, tests, and analyses for a variety of purposes, including research and development
  • Prepare and present reports, graphs, and charts that summarize their results

Technicians who work in laboratories may help conduct experiments that contribute to research and development. For example, some chemical technicians help chemists and other scientists develop new medicines.

Other chemical technicians work in manufacturing, where they may assist in monitoring quality, maintaining equipment, and improving production processes.

Typically, chemists or chemical engineers direct chemical technicians’ work and evaluate their results. Most technicians work on teams, but they also may be required to work independently on projects. Experienced technicians may serve as mentors to technicians who are new to a lab or to a specific area of research.

Work Environment

Chemical technicians held about 60,400 jobs in 2021. The largest employers of chemical technicians were as follows:

Testing laboratories 16%
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing 10
Wholesale trade 4
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private      3

Chemical technicians often work in laboratories or in manufacturing facilities. Chemical manufacturing plants make a variety of products, such as fertilizers, medicines, and soaps.

Injuries and Illnesses

Chemical technicians may be exposed to health or safety hazards when handling certain chemicals and manufacturing equipment, but there is little risk if proper procedures are followed.

Work Schedules

Most technicians work full time. Occasionally, they may have to work additional hours to meet project deadlines or troubleshoot problems with manufacturing processes. Some work irregular schedules to monitor laboratory experiments or manufacturing operations.

Education and Training

To enter the occupation, chemical technicians typically need an associate’s degree or 2 years of postsecondary education. Some positions require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree; others require a high school diploma. Most chemical technicians receive on-the-job training.


Chemical technicians typically need an associate's degree or 2 years of postsecondary education in applied science or chemical technology. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor's degree in those or related fields, such as biology or physical science. Other employers may consider candidates who have a high school diploma.

Technical and community college programs in applied sciences or chemical technology typically include courses in math, physics, and biology in addition to chemistry. Coursework in statistics and computer science is also useful for learning data analysis and modeling.

Courses that include a laboratory component provide students with hands-on practice in conducting experiments and proper use of instruments and techniques. Participating in internships and cooperative-education programs while attending school helps students gain experience.


Chemical technicians typically receive on-the-job training from experienced technicians, who explain proper methods and procedures for conducting experiments and operating equipment. The length of training varies with the new employee’s level of experience and education and by industry.


Technicians who have a bachelor’s degree may advance to become chemical engineers or chemists.

Personality and Interests

Chemical technicians typically have an interest in the Building, Thinking and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Thinking interest area indicates a focus on researching, investigating, and increasing the understanding of natural laws. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Thinking or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a chemical technician, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Chemical technicians should also possess the following specific qualities:

Ability to use technology. Chemical technicians must be able to set up and operate sophisticated equipment and instruments. They also may need to adjust the equipment to ensure that experiments and processes are running properly and safely.

Analytical skills. Chemical technicians must be able to conduct scientific experiments with accuracy and precision.

Communication skills. Chemical technicians must explain their work to scientists, engineers, and to workers who may not have a technical background. They often write reports to communicate their results.

Critical-thinking skills. Chemical technicians reach their conclusions through sound reasoning and judgment.

Interpersonal skills. Chemical technicians must be able to work well with others as part of a team, because they often work with scientists, engineers, and other technicians.

Observation skills. Chemical technicians must carefully monitor chemical experiments and processes. They must keep complete records of their work, including conditions, procedures, and results.

Time-management skills. Chemical technicians often work on multiple tasks and projects at the same time and must be able to prioritize their assignments.


The median annual wage for chemical technicians was $48,990 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,980, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,570.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for chemical technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private      $49,050
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing 48,670
Wholesale trade 47,860
Testing laboratories 39,410

Most technicians work full time. Occasionally, they may have to work additional hours to meet project deadlines or troubleshoot problems with manufacturing processes. Some work irregular schedules to monitor laboratory experiments or manufacturing operations.

Job Outlook

Employment of chemical technicians is projected to grow 4 percent from 2021 to 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 7,800 openings for chemical technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. 


Chemical technicians will continue to be in demand to test new materials and products developed by chemists and chemical engineers. They also will be needed to monitor the quality of chemical products and processes. In addition, increased demand for these technicians is expected due to greater interest in environmental issues such as pollution control, clean energy, and sustainability.

For More Information

For more information about chemical technicians, visit

American Chemical Society

American Chemistry Council




Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. On this site, you can take the Career Personality Profiler assessment, the Holland Code assessment, or the Photo Career Quiz.

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