List of highest paying chemistry jobs (Plus specialisations)

Updated 14 August 2023

Having a degree in chemistry allows you to choose from a wide variety of careers in many fields, including science, research, business and healthcare. With a chemistry degree, employers may hire you to carry out laboratory tests, combine chemical compounds and interpret scientific data. Knowing the high-paying jobs can help you enjoy the benefits of earning a decent salary while working in a position that suits your interests. In this article, we explore 15 examples of high paying chemistry jobs, define what chemistry is and give you tips that may help you get the job.


  • Why study chemistry?

  • How to write a chemistry CV (with tips)

Highest paying chemistry jobs

Here's a list of the highest paying chemistry jobs you can apply for:

1. Chemical technicians

National average salary: £23,150 per year

Primary duties: Chemical technicians ensure research chemists can properly and efficiently perform studies in a lab. For example, their duties might involve monitoring equipment or using techniques to help in specific research tasks. Laboratories or pharmaceutical companies may have job opportunities for chemical technicians.

Related: How to become a lab technician

2. Forensic scientists

National average salary: £23,571 per year

Primary duties: Forensic scientists assist the police force, including legal and military organisations, to detect the composition of items such as drugs, chemicals, fingerprints or hair strands. For example, the police can ask them to identify unknown substances left behind at a crime scene. There are several branches of forensic chemistry, some of them are forensic odontology, forensic linguistics, forensic optometry and forensic pathology. As a forensic scientist, you can work with research institutions, hospitals, legal firms, military organisations and the police force.

3. Analytical chemists

National average salary: £25,935 per year

Primary duties: Analytical chemists study how to differentiate matter using scientific methods. They also assess substances for various reasons, like toxicology examinations, producing pharmaceuticals and responding to forensic questions. As an analytical chemist, you might work for laboratories, hospitals, research centres and the government.

4. Wastewater operator

National average salary: £28,849 per year

Primary duties: Wastewater operators, or water chemists, study and monitor chemicals in the water. Their job duties may involve ensuring water purification processes are safe, collecting and analysing water from various ecosystems and making projections to help determine various rules, regulations and policies. As a water chemist, you might find work in laboratories, consulting firms, universities, research centres and the government.

5. Synthetic chemists

National average salary: £27,673

Primary duties: Synthetic chemists' major task is to carry out experiments to assess and develop chemical compounds to produce new material for a specific purpose. They typically work in a laboratory to perform their duties. As a synthetic chemist, you may find opportunities for work in any industry, such as healthcare, manufacturing, food and beverages.

6. Pharmacologist

National average salary: £30,622

Primary duties: Pharmacologists are professionals who study the impact medicines have on humankind and wildlife. As a pharmacologist, you can specialise in neuropharmacology, cardiovascular pharmacology or veterinary pharmacology. You can apply to hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies and government organisations to start your career in pharmacology.

Related: How to become a pharmacologist

7. Chemical engineer

National average salary: £34,604 per year

Primary duties: Chemical engineers handle the design, development and management of chemicals. They use their skills to help in producing drugs, food, drinks and other products. If you choose to specialise in chemical engineering, you can apply for a job in refineries, hospitals, laboratories and research centres.

Related: How much does a chemical engineer make?

Alternative jobs and chemistry specialisations

Since the science field is very broad, there are specialisations you can pursue as a chemist and scientist. The average salary for a chemist is £27,676 per year. The average salary for a scientist is £33,744 per year. Here's a list of specialisations applicable to the chemistry field and alternative science roles:

Quality control chemist

A quality control chemist, also known as QC chemists, track and evaluates the use of materials during the production process to ensure it meets all standards. For example, their job function might involve developing a new product and testing different ways to manufacture a particular item. Pharmaceutical or manufacturing companies might employ you as a QC chemist.

Organic chemist

An organic chemist focuses on the study and control of materials having carbon. For instance, they might handle scientific research to find out how a certain substance is being applied. They may work in several professions such as chemical engineering, pharmacology and veterinary.

Related: ​What does a process chemist do? (And how to become one)

Hazardous waste chemist

A hazardous waste chemist studies the components of chemical pollution in the air and water to monitor and manage them. For example, your responsibilities may include creating plans for better ways to manage hazardous waste for an organisation. Production and manufacturing companies may employ you to make the team adhere to certain rules and regulations concerning pollutants.

Materials scientist

A materials scientist studies and evaluates products that exist naturally and the ones created by humans. They may use their research outcomes to create items, change items or decide to use the items for a new purpose. As a material scientist, you can apply for jobs in laboratories, factories and fast-moving consumer goods companies.


An oceanographer researches the environments and inhabitants of the sea. For instance, they can carry out a scientific inquiry on the components of water. They usually work in universities, non-governmental organisations, research centres, private companies and the Navy.


A geochemist studies the chemical components that make up the earth by analysing natural materials, rocks and soil. As an aspiring geochemist, having a genuine interest in research and nature may set you apart from your peers. Organisations like oil companies, universities, research centres and government agencies usually have job opportunities for geochemistry.

Chemistry teacher

A chemistry teacher prepares and teaches a chemistry science curriculum. They ensure the effective transfer of knowledge to their students through lectures, tests, projects and more. You might find work in a university, college or high school as a chemistry teacher. Your qualifications in this role impact how much you earn. For example, a BSc in chemistry qualifies you to work as a secondary school chemistry teacher, while a PhD allows you to apply for university tutor positions.

Related: How to become a teacher in the UK


A toxicologist tests various blood and tissue samples to detect drugs, poison, alcohol and other substances in the body. As a toxicologist, you can specialise in immunotoxicology risk assessment toxicology or chemical carcinogenesis. You can also work in crime laboratories, the police force and government agencies.

Related: How to become a toxicologist

What is Chemistry?

Chemistry is an aspect of science that studies the composition and traits of matter. It also explores the molecular content of a chemical compound. There are many areas of specialisation, such as:

  • organic chemistry

  • inorganic chemistry

  • analytical chemistry

  • physical chemistry

  • theoretical chemistry

  • biochemistry

Tips for getting high paying chemistry jobs

Here are a few tips that may help you get a high paying chemistry job:


Research the companies that pay the highest and search for the chemistry jobs they offer in your area of expertise. Find out the qualifications required for the listed hop openings. This might give you a better understanding of the lucrative job opportunities in the labour market, which may help you get the high-paying job you want.

Related: How to research a company for an interview

Make improvements

It's important to be intentional about improving your skill sets. You can do this by learning new skills in your field, volunteering to take on extra responsibilities to boost your work experience and gaining an advanced chemistry degree or professional certification in your area of specialisation. Your CV demonstrates these improved skills, which might make it easier for you to get the highest paying jobs in chemistry.


You can expand your professional contact list by attending reputable seminars, webinars and conferences where you may meet people who have high paid chemistry jobs. You can also become an active member of online groups or forums for professionals in your field by posting articles and commenting regularly on the platforms. This may help you build a professional relationship with someone who may recommend you for a lucrative job in your area of interest.

Be relevant

When professionals in your industry know you to be highly skilled in a particular area, employers may contact you directly for job opportunities in their organisation. You can build your credibility by regularly carrying out research to discover innovative ideas or solutions in chemistry science. Having published articles of your findings in well-recognised journals is another way to be relevant in your field.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Related: What it takes to be a pharmaceutical engineer (With duties)

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