Chemical technicians need an associate’s degree or 2 years of postsecondary training for most jobs. Most chemical technicians receive on-the-job training.
For most jobs, chemical technicians need an associate’s degree in applied science or chemical technology or 2 years of postsecondary training.
Many technical and community colleges offer programs in applied sciences or chemical technology. Students typically take classes in mathematics, physics, and biology in addition to chemistry courses. Coursework in statistics and computer science is also useful because technicians routinely do data analysis and modeling.
One of the most important aspects of any degree program is laboratory time. Laboratory coursework provides students with hands-on experience in conducting experiments and using various instruments and techniques properly. Many schools also offer internships and cooperative-education programs that help students gain employment experience while attending school. That experience can enhance students’ job prospects.
Analytical skills. Chemical technicians must be able to conduct scientific experiments with accuracy and precision.
Critical-thinking skills. Chemical technicians reach their conclusions through sound reasoning and judgment. They also must be able to evaluate the work of others.
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.
Speaking skills. Chemical technicians must explain their work to scientists and engineers and to workers who may not have a technical background.
Technical skills. 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.
Time-management skills. Chemical technicians often work on multiple tasks and projects at the same time and must be able to prioritize their assignments.
Writing skills. Chemical technicians must write reports that summarize their findings and results.
Most chemical technicians receive on-the-job training. Typically, experienced technicians teach new employees proper methods and procedures for conducting experiments and operating equipment. Length of training varies with the new employee’s level of experience and education and the industry the worker is employed in.
Technicians who have a bachelor’s degree are often able to advance to positions as chemists and chemical engineers.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition