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TechWORKS! Career Information Profiles

CHEMICAL TECHNOLOGY

Have you ever seen a pulp mill, with its giant stacks billowing white clouds into the atmosphere? Those clouds are mostly harmless steam, because emissions are filtered and cleaned before being released. Somewhere, behind the scenes, is a chemical technologist or technician who has designed, tested or installed that environmental equipment.

Chemical technologists and technicians help design, install and test or maintain process equipment or computer control instrumentation, monitor quality control in processing plants and make needed adjustments.

As a chemical technologist you might be employed in an industry that produces pharmaceuticals, chemicals, pulp and paper, or petroleum products. In fact, wherever an industry uses chemicals, there are opportunities for technologists who specialize in environmental or pollution control or industrial chemistry.

This is a discipline where a lot of work relates to protecting the environment.

Some of the activities you might do in this career are:

  • Evaluate the economic and technical feasibility of modifying, replacing or installing new plant equipment
  • Train and supervise operators on the production line
  • Operate complex plants and processes
  • Set up and conduct chemical experiments, and test and analyze using techniques such as chromatography, spectroscopy, physical and chemical separation techniques, and microscopy
  • Operate and maintain laboratory equipment and apparatus, and prepare solutions, reagents and sample formulations
  • Develop and conduct programs of sampling and analysis to maintain quality standards of raw materials, chemical intermediates and products
  • Assist in developing chemical engineering processes, studies of chemical engineering procurement, construction, inspection and maintenance, and the development of standards, procedures, and health and safety measures

Some of the activities you might do as a chemical technician are:

  • Assist in setting up and conducting chemical experiments, tests and analyses
  • Operate and maintain laboratory equipment and apparatus, and prepare solutions, reagents and sample formulations
  • Assist in developing and conducting programs of sampling and analysis to maintain quality standards
  • Carry out a limited range of other technical functions in support of chemical research, tests and analyses
  • Assist in the designing and fabrication of experimental apparatus

Where Will You Work?

As a chemical technologist, you find yourself working in an office, laboratory or production environment. You should be aware that some production environments smell unpleasant! You would likely work a 40-hour, Monday to Friday week, but may have to work evenings or weekends to meet deadlines.

You might be required to lift items weighing up to 25 kg or work with dangerous chemicals and equipment. It is important that you know safety procedures and follow them carefully.

Related careers include chemical research technician, food technologist/analyst, quality control technician, test technician, laboratory technologist/technician, biochemist, formulation technician and geochemical technician.

How Much Will You Earn?

Technologist: $80,000/yr
Technician: $56,000/yr
GradTech: $42,000/yr

How Does the Future Look?

Slow to moderate growth is expected in this field and opportunities will fluctuate with the economic outlook. You find most opportunities will be in large city centres.

How Can You Get Started?

In high school, be sure to take courses in English, mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology.

What Will You Need?

As a chemical technologist or technician, you need a strong background in chemistry, physics and math. You also need to have strong problem-solving skills, persistence, an ability to pay attention to detail and a commitment to accuracy.

You should enjoy working with tools and instruments at tasks requiring precision, analyzing data to find solutions to problems, taking a methodical approach to work and supervising others.

Post Secondary Possibilities

College
Program
Accredited Status
Discipline
BCIT
Chemical Sciences
Technologist
Chemical
Camosun College (university transfer program) Chemical & Bio-Sciences Recognized Chemical/Bio-Science
Okanagan University College Water Quality Recognized Chemical/Bio-Science

  • Programs listed are those accredited by the Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC); check www.asttbc.org for updates on accredited programs.
  • Check with your career facilitator or counsellor for other sources of information applicable to education options for this technology.
  • Salary figures indicated in the 'How Much Will You Earn?' section are extracted from ASTTBC's Member Compensation Survey or other Canadian sources applicable to the specific technology discipline. These figures are representative only; actual figures will vary depending on academic training, practical experience, job responsibilities and location of employment.
  • The TechWORKS! web site is an important online resource and provides links to career information that will be of interest to students pursuing a career in technology.

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