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Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites

Also known as Chemical Scientist.

Chemists study the physical and chemical properties of materials to determine their composition.

They use this information to develop new materials and products, to devise more efficient processes for making materials and to increase scientific knowledge.

Chemists should not be confused with pharmacists (see separate entry for Pharmacist).

Chemists may work alone or as part of a team of professionals and technicians. They work in laboratories, in the field or in chemical processing plants, offices and educational institutions.

Depending on the type of laboratory, chemists may have to handle dangerous or hazardous materials.

Protective clothing and equipment are usually provided.


    Chemists may perform the following tasks:

  • conduct experiments to identify chemical composition and study chemical changes that occur in natural substances and processed materials
  • undertake research and analysis to develop and test theories, techniques and processes
  • develop practical applications of experiments and research findings, including those combining new compounds for industrial, agricultural, veterinary and medical use
  • test products and materials and prepare specifications and standards to ensure compliance with government health laws and quality standards
  • undertake cost analysis, pricing and quality assurance exercises when developing new substances, processes and products
  • take part in the marketing and financial management of substances, processes or products developed
  • supervise and coordinate the work of technical support staff
  • conduct routine analyses in a process environment


  • enjoy scientific activities, including laboratory work, fieldwork and research
  • able to think logically and creatively
  • aptitude for accurate work
  • patient and able to persevere
  • an enquiring mind
  • able to work independently or as part of a team

Interest Area

Scientific Figures/Computational


Analytical Chemist - carries out tests and analyses to determine the compositions of substances and to detect the presence of impurities, residues and trace elements.

Environmental Chemist - monitors waste products from all sources, determines ways to neutralise any negative effects pollutants might have on the environment and devises industrial processes that are environmentally friendly.

Geochemist - studies the chemistry of earth materials.

Industrial/Production Chemist - designs, runs, troubleshoots and improves the processes of chemical and material production on an industrial scale.

Organic Chemist - studies the nature of organic compounds to develop new substances for use in the industrial, agricultural, veterinary and medical fields.

Physical Chemist - studies macroscopic, atomic, subatomic and particulate phenomena in chemical systems in terms of physical laws and concepts.

Research Chemist - provides innovative solutions to chemical problems and may be involved in pure or applied research.


Year 12 Preferred University Course Subject Prerequisites

To become a chemist you usually have to complete a science or applied science degree at university with a major in chemistry. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your HSC/ACT Year 12. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology are normally required. Most universities in Australia offer degrees in science or applied science with a major in chemistry.

Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information as requirements may change.

Additional Information

    Students and graduates of a chemistry-related programme may be eligible for membership of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute.

    For research and teaching positions, postgraduate qualifications may be required. Geochemists require tertiary training in earth science, as well as in chemistry.


Chemists are employed in a wide range of government, industrial and university laboratories. They may work in hospital laboratories or with medical and scientific research bodies, food processing firms and pharmaceutical manufacturers. They also find employment as consultants, technical specialists, patent officers and teachers.

Chemists may specialise in developing new products or supervising production. With experience, they may progress to management positions.

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More Information - External Links

Job Outlook for Chemist Minerals Council of Australia Royal Australian Chemical Institute Inc.

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