Chemists use their knowledge of the composition and properties of molecules and atoms to analyse samples, make new chemical compounds, improve industrial processes and learn more about how chemical reactions take place.

Job opportunities are good for applied chemists who work in research institutions developing new technologies and products, and for analytical chemists in industry. There is fierce competition for university jobs doing basic or pure research as there is limited funding for this kind of work.

Pay rates depend on qualifications, experience and industry:

  • Chemistry technicians with a Bachelor's degree usually earn around $35-55,000
  • Research chemists with a Master's degree usually earn $55-75,000
  • Senior researchers with a PhD may earn $76-94,000
  • Research team leaders who manage to secure a permanent position may earn $130,000 or more
  • Analytical chemists working in industry may start on $50-60,000

Key tertiary qualifications include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry or Biochemistry
  • Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical or Materials Engineering
  • A Master's degree or PhD is generally required for work in a research role

Recommended school subjects:

  • Maths
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • English

Careers New Zealand: Chemist

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Chemist: People who work in this role

  • Grace McNicholl

    Technican, Grace McNicholl at work

    Brayden Judd

    Lab Technician, Brayden Judd at work

    Ivy Huang

    Chemistry Technician, Ivy Huang at work

    Anna Van Vuuren

    Senior Analyst, Anna Van Vuuren at work
  • Karyne Rogers

    Environmental and Forensic Scientist, Karyne Rogers at work

    Hayley Brown

    Quality Control Chemist, Hayley Brown at work

    Shea Waenga

    Compliance Officer, Shea Waenga at work

    Jose Cranfield (nee Wilson)

    Analytical Chemist, Jose Cranfield (nee Wilson) at work
  • Sara Fraser

    PhD Student, Sara Fraser at work

    Cleo Davie-Martin

    PhD Student, Cleo Davie-Martin at work

    Kathryn Stokes

    Scientist, Kathryn Stokes at work

    Serena Smalley

    Product Development Chemist, Serena Smalley at work
  • Craig Ayres

    Quality Control Officer - Dairy. , Craig Ayres at work

    Janine Cooney

    Scientist, Janine Cooney at work

    Brent Martin

    Scientist, Brent Martin at work

Chemist: Companies that employ people in this job role

  • Cawthron Institute
    Cawthron Institute
    GNS Science
    GNS Science
    Ministry for Primary Industries
    Ministry for Primary Industries
  • Hill Laboratories
    Hill Laboratories
    Ballance Agri-Nutrients
    Ballance Agri-Nutrients
  • Plant & Food Research
    Plant & Food Research
  • Watercare
    McCain Foods (NZ)
    McCain Foods (NZ)
    Callaghan Innovation
    Callaghan Innovation
    Holcim Cement
    Holcim Cement

Futureintech is an initiative of Engineering New Zealand, funded by Callaghan Innovation