What is analytical chemistry?
This field covers the implementation of analytical instruments and processes used to separate, identify, and quantify chemical matter. Those skilled in analytical chemistry deduce chemical structures as well as their behaviour in differing conditions. It covers a variety of purposes including drug development, forensic analysis and toxicology. Research and development (R&D) of formulation and processes is key to continually improving end products. It has become an important function to help a company gather the needed information to move a product from development into the commercialisation phase.
What does an analytical chemist do?
Analytical chemists regularly involves test products, raw materials, and intermediates on a daily basis.
While the exact nature of the role depends on individual industries and settings, analysis remains a core part of the role regardless of which sector you're working in. From working within the forensics sector, and applying analysis to evidence of potential crimes, to working in the pharmaceutical industry to determine the quality and stability of drug products, analytical chemists benefit from a wide selection of career options.
Typical responsibilities of an analytical chemist include:
Data analysis and interpretation
Data recording in accordance with guidelines
Research papers and report writing
Ensuring that health and safety standards are met
Keeping up to date with scientific and technical trends
Developing novel new analytical methods
Analytical chemists spend most of their time in a laboratory environment. The various experiments performed by them require handling potentially dangerous chemicals, so following standard protocols and safety procedures is highly important.
Are analytical chemists in demand?
Analytical chemistry offers good career prospects for practitioners. The demand for chemical analysis is growing across several industries, from environmental sample testing, to verifying the health and safety standards of pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and FMCG products. This means that analytical chemistry is one of the most in-demand clinical roles in STEM. And thanks to being armed with a critical skill set, analytical chemistry is regarded as increasingly integral to companies' needs -- especially those that work along the product life cycle.
What are the key trends in analytical chemistry?
Many sources are talking about blockchain technology and how this can help areas within the field.
There are still considerations that need to be ironed out but most agree that this technology can help improve security and innovation.
As blockchain data is not owned by any one individual, each person involved in the transaction has the opportunity to keep track of the data which limits the risks of inaccurate reporting and helps those involved remain honest in their transactions. Information can be shared in an open or closed community (a dedicated community of experts) by safely sharing information with all stakeholders in real-time, following the rules set by the community without the need for validation or authorisation by third parties. As everyone is working on the same data, the time to market is reduced and innovation is facilitated.
Other trends like miniaturisation, automated analysis and environmental chemistry are influencing analytical chemists today.
For more on what it's like to work as an analytical chemist, read a first-hand, day-in-the-life account of an analytical chemist here >