Chemical Technologist

Also Known As
Chemical Laboratory Technicians Chemical Laboratory Technologist
Chemical Research Tech Chemical Tech
Physical Sciences Techs

The following other titles reflect the various areas in which chemical technologists and technicians can specialize:

What are the roles of Chemical Technologists professionals in Canada?

Chemical techs provide technical support to teams of chemists, chemical engineers, and related professionals. Chemical techs generally specialize in an area such as analytical chemistry, production of industrial chemicals, materials science, food technology, mineral processing, pulp and paper technology, recycling technology, industrial chemistry, or environmental monitoring and protection.

What are the main duties of Chemical Technologists in Canada?

Chemical technologists perform some or all of the following duties:

  • set up and conduct chemical experiments, tests, and analyses using techniques such as chromatography, spectroscopy, physical and chemical separation techniques, and microscopy
  • use and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment
  • prepare solutions of gas or liquid, reagents, and sample formulations
  • collect records and interpret results of experiments or analyses
  • develop and conduct programs of sampling and analysis to maintain quality standards of raw materials, chemical intermediates and products
  • help in the development of chemical engineering processes, studies of chemical engineering construction, inspection and maintenance, plus the development of standards, procedures and health and safety measures
  • operate experimental chemical or petrochemical pilot plants
  • conduct or assist in air and water quality testing and assessments, environmental monitoring and protection activities, and development of and compliance with standards
  • help in synthesis of small molecules for the purpose of creating drug candidates
  • help design and make experimental instruments and equipment

Chemical technicians perform some or all of the following duties:

  • help to set up and conduct chemical experiments, tests, and analyses
  • use and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment
  • prepare solutions of gas and liquid, reagents, and sample formulations
  • collect records for analytical studies
  • help to develop and run programs of sampling and analysis to maintain quality standards
  • perform a limited range of other technical functions in support of chemical research, tests, and analyses, and environmental air and water quality monitoring and protection
  • help design and make experimental instruments and equipment

What are the desired traits of Chemical Technologists in Canada?

Chemical techs require strong analytical skills, as well as strong skills in science and mathematics. They should be good with their hands and be able to pay close attention to details. They should also enjoy using instruments and equipment, and it is very important that they have strong communication skills, both oral and written.

Where do Chemical Technologists work?

  • federal and provincial government departments and facilities, for example, utilities, health, universities
  • medical and research laboratories
  • quality control laboratories
  • chemical products manufacturers
  • industrial chemicals manufacturers
  • engineering companies
  • environmental consulting companies
  • food product companies
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • petrochemical companies
  • water and wastewater treatment plants

What might the typical work conditions be?

Most work is performed indoors in labs or processing plants, but outdoor work may be necessary to take environmental samples or conduct site inspections. Chemical techs are often required to stand for extended periods of time. They may also be exposed to odours, toxic fumes, and other hazardous substances, so they must follow safety procedures to limit risks.

Chemical techs generally work 35 to 40 hours per week, but some jobs may require evening and weekend shifts to meet deadlines.

What qualifications are Canadian employers looking for?

Employers hire chemical technicians who have completed a one- or two-year college program in chemical, biochemical, or chemical engineering technology. Employers hire chemical technologists who have completed a two- or three-year college program in chemical, biochemical, chemical engineering technology, or a closely related subject such as environmental technology. Some research jobs may be given to individuals with university degrees.

Some employers require certification. For example, most provincial governments across Canada require certification for workers in municipal water treatment, water distribution, wastewater collection, and wastewater treatment facilities. Information about certification is available through the provincial government, usually the environment or health department, or a professional society.

Some employers will give preference to individuals who are certified. Certification as a chemical technologist is available through the Canadian Society for Chemical Technology. Broader certification is also available for technicians or technologists working in applied science-technology fields such as bio-medical engineering, environmental, information, and mechanical disciplines, and other areas related to the built and natural environment. There are associations responsible for certifying and registering technology professionals within each Canadian province. For a listing of these associations, go to Technology Registrations Canada.

ECO Canada also offers certifications for a range of occupations in the chemical technology area that employers in the environmental field may prefer or require.

What communication skills do employers expect?

Employers may test language ability because it is important for workers to understand instructions and share information to complete tasks properly and work safely.

Chemical techs use communication skills on the job in many ways:

  • They read comments and instructions in work orders and work request forms. For example, chemical process quality control technicians may read comments in work orders to determine the reasons for analytical tests and brief instructions for conducting assays.
  • They write activity summaries, literature reviews, and reports. For example, research technologists may summarize reviews of literature and make recommendations for new equipment and software purchases. Water quality technicians write non-conformance reports when test and analysis results do not meet specifications and standards. They describe the non-conformance encountered and outline corrective actions. They may give reasons for the acceptance of test results and explain the reasons for variations. Environmental laboratory technicians write validation reports to describe deviations from protocol methods, changes to procedures, and details of problems encountered during the analysis of samples.
  • They discuss technical and scientific matters with co-workers, colleagues, and clients. For example, technologists discuss procedures for calibrating flow meters with technicians to make sure that analysis and validation procedures were followed and that analyses were conducted according to standard operating procedures. They discuss methods and protocols for new analysis procedures, anomalies, and next steps with their supervisors. They may discuss possible reasons for nonconforming laboratory results with colleagues. They may review analysis results and validation procedures with clients and explain deficiencies and the solutions required to address them.

To review examples of how other Essential Skills are used by chemical techs in the workplace, go to Explore Careers by Essential Skills on the Working in Canada website.

The ability to speak and write in multiple languages can be an advantage in Canada’s multicultural environment.

What is the wage for this occupation?

Factors affecting wages include workers’ level of education, work experience, and job responsibilities, plus the job location, work conditions, and whether the workforce is unionized or not. The numbers below reflect a national average for low, median (mid-point), and high wages (before taxes).

Low Median High
$15 per hour $24 per hour $39 per hour
$31,200 per year $49,920 per year $81,120 per year

For wage information in specific regions or cities in Canada, see Working in Canada’s Explore Careers by Wages.

What opportunities for advancement are available to Chemical Technologists?

Transferring skills and moving to different jobs within this occupational group is very possible.

Chances to advance vary depending on the size and nature of the organization and the individual’s qualifications. Experienced chemical technologists might move into management positions or sales, or they might own and operate their own laboratories.

Chemical techs can also advance in their careers by pursuing additional education and other career development opportunities, such as participating on special work projects and industry committees. For information about education programs, go to the list of Canadian universities and colleges offering programs in chemical sciences and engineering at the website of the Chemical Institute of Canada.

Where can I find out more about Chemical Technologists in Canada?

Links to general career information and job posting resources are provided on the Introductory Page.