Standard Occupational Classification #19-2031 Chemist
SOC definition Chemist #19-2031 - Conduct qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses or chemical experiments in laboratories for quality or process control or to develop new products or knowledge. Chemists are also known as inorganic chemists or chemical analyst. A Chemist is a separate occupation from other occupations that use chemistry skills such as Chemical engineer, #17-2041 and biochemists, #19-1021.
Chemists are classified as physical science occupations with the largest share working in the manufacturing industry. Almost all manufacturing firms hire a few chemists and 37.9 percent of those employed as chemists work in manufacturing. The Chemical manufacturing industry employs the highest share of chemists, at 31.7 percent, leaving only 6.2 percent of chemists working in other manufacturing industries. Over half of chemists working in chemical manufacturing work for pharmaceutical firms or firms manufacturing medicine, 18.1 percent actually.
Just over 12.6 percent of chemists work for engineering firms, mostly in testing labs and another 18.9 percent are employed in scientific research and development. About 5 percent teach, mostly at colleges and universities. The federal, state, and local government employs 13.4 percent. The remainder are quite scattered with nearly one percent working in waste management and remediation.
National employment as chemists was 85,970 in 2014. Jobs are up since 2000 when 82,320 worked as chemists. The annual average job increase equals 231 per year since 2000 at a growth rate of .31 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting job growth for chemists at 560 per year through 2022 at a growth rate of .55 percent a year.
Job openings make a better measure of new hiring than job growth. Job openings are job growth and the number of net replacements. Net replacements are people who permanently leave an occupation for another occupation or retirement and must be replaced before there can be job growth. Job openings for chemists are forecast to be 2,780 a year through 2022.
The recently updated Bureau of Labor Statistics Education and Training Classification assignments lists BA degree skills as necessary for entry into jobs as Chemists. However, percentages from survey data are published for chemists showing an educational distribution where 52.5 percent have a BA degree, 40 percent have advanced degrees, 4.2 percent some college, but no degree. Almost 3 percent have an associate’s degree. High school skills were sufficient for .1 percent that work here and .1 percent have less than a high school degree. Previous experience and on-the-job training are considered unnecessary for entry.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports degree data for America’s colleges and universities that can be compared with job growth and openings. There were 13,416 BA degrees granted in 7 programs in June 2012, the last year of complete degree data. There were also 2,434 MA degrees granted in 7 programs in chemistry and 2,532 Ph.D. degrees granted in Chemistry. BA degrees are up by 790 from the previous year. The ratio of relevant BA degrees to openings equals 4.82, or 13,416/2,780, assuring plenty of qualified candidates to fill job openings.
The basic wage data from the BLS occupational employment survey includes a wage distribution. Averages are not used much in wage data. A few high wages pull up the average and make it unrepresentative. Instead a distribution range of wages is published with the 10th, 25th, median, 75th, and 90th percentiles of wages. A 10th percentile wage means 10 percent working in this occupation have wages equal to or less than the 10th percentile wage and so on. Annual wages are converted to hourly wages by dividing annual wages by 2080
The entry wage for the national market in the 10th percentile for chemists is reported as $41,560 in 2014. The 25th percentile wage equals $53,420. The median wage is $73,480, the 75th percentile wage equals $99,360 and the 90th percentile wage is $126,220.
The wages of chemists have kept up with inflation for the last decade. For example, to have the buying power of the 2006 median wage of $59,870 in 2014, the chemist wage would need to be $70,304.49. In stead it was $73,480, a 4.52 percent increase in the real wage for those eight years.