What they do

Chemists research and test the physical and chemical make-up of substances and materials to determine their composition. They also develop and improve the chemical make-up of products, and help streamline the processes involved in doing this. They conduct experiments, write reports based on their findings, develop theories, and test techniques and processes for creating and manipulating certain substances. They develop practical applications for their experimental and research findings, and develop quality control and safety procedures. Chemists may work anywhere in the State, in organisations and institutions ranging from universities, to mining and environmental facilities.

Working conditions

Chemists work in laboratories, government departments, research centres, and large companies and universities. They may come into contact with dangerous materials such as acids and radioactive materials as part of their work. For this reason, safety training is particularly important. Chemists usually work regular hours, but may be required to work longer hours on occasion. They may also be required to travel to attend conferences, courses or seminars, or to complete fieldwork and liaise with other chemists regarding new research or developments in their field.

Tools and technologies

Chemists use a range of scientific equipment, including laboratory equipment such as flasks, beakers and microscopes, measuring equipment including spectrometers, and a range of computer-controlled and specialised scientific machinery. They usually need to wear protective clothing such as safety glasses.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a chemist, you usually need to study a degree in science, majoring in chemistry or applied chemistry.

Most of the universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.