Have you thought about working in a laboratory? Are you logical and enjoy solving complex problems? If you’re the kind of person who enjoys working in a thorough way through problems and you’re interested in researching the structure and composition of matter, then a career as a Chemical Analyst may well be a good option for you.

There is a critical shortage of Chemical Analysts in South Africa, which means that there are jobs available to people who study in this field. You will be able to work both in a team and independently and be involved in practical research. You’ll be a front runner in the what’s new in the field and be able to share this information to help the scientific world move forward.

What is a Chemical Analyst?

As a Chemical Analyst, you would study substances to find out more about the chemicals that they are made of. This could, for example, involve mixing different substances together to study the reaction between them or you could test new products by testing their raw materials. This information is either used for research purposes or is used to develop a new product for the market. You would work in a laboratory and liaise with other researchers or report to project leaders.

You might be involved in the development of new drugs, analysing toxic substances or working in forensic analysis (investigating substances related to a crime). You can work in sectors as diverse as government, health, mining, education, power supply or corporates involved in providing chemical products to customers.

You will also need to be able to analyse data using IT, write and present reports and research papers and keep up to date with the latest scientific and technical developments.

What do you need to study to become a Chemical Analyst?

If you are interested in becoming a chemical analyst then you will need an NSC matric certificate with at least a Level 4 pass in English, Maths and Physical Science in order to study for a diploma in this field. If your NSC certificate does not meet these requirements, then certain institution offer a six months bridging course. Some institutions also offer an extended Diploma which takes one year longer than the usual three years but this enables you to have more coaching from lecturers. South Africa really needs people to qualify in this field so extra resources have been allocated to help people to qualify.

Another option is to go to university and study a science-related degree, specialising in chemistry or biochemistry. There are also opportunities in this field if you have a degree in geochemistry, materials science, mathematics or environmental science. It’s helpful to study further for a postgraduate qualification in analytical chemistry which then allows you to enter the profession on a more senior level.

Practical experience in a lab is also helpful although you will get this experience while you’re studying too.

Where can you study to become a Chemical Analyst?

University of Johannesburg
Mangosuthu University of Technology
Nelson Mandela University
University of the Witwatersrand
Vaal University of Technology
Cape University of Technology
University of Cape Town
Durban University of Technology
Walter Sisulu University

As this is a critical skill required by the country, you will find that not only do you have access to NSFAS but also external bursaries as funding options.

If you decide to study as a chemical analyst, you will have a satisfying career in which you grow the knowledge base of science. This work is vital in so many fields that you have a wide range of sectors that you can choose to work in. From energy to drug production to reducing pollution; all of this and much more are on offer.

So, if you are motivated, enjoy problem-solving and want to use the practical skills of science to benefit society, then this may well be the career for you!


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