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Career and Education Opportunities for Chemists in Charleston, West Virginia

If you want to be a chemist, the Charleston, West Virginia area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. About 590 people are currently employed as chemists in West Virginia. By 2016, this is expected to shrink 6% to about 560 people employed. This is not quite as good as the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for chemists are expected to grow by about 2.5%. In general, chemists conduct qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses or chemical experiments in laboratories for quality or process control or to develop new products or knowledge.

The income of a chemist is about $24 per hour or $50,720 annually on average in West Virginia. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $31 hourly or $66,230 per year on average. Compared with people working in the overall category of Physical Sciences, people working as chemists in West Virginia earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Physical Sciences nationally. Chemists work in a variety of jobs, including: quality control chemist, chemical laboratory chief, and coal chemist.

The Charleston area is home to seventeen schools of higher education, including three within twenty-five miles of Charleston where you can get a degree as a chemist. Given that the most common education level for chemists is a Bachelor's degree, it will take about four years to learn to be a chemist if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Chemist

Chemist video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, chemists conduct qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses or chemical experiments in laboratories for quality or process control or to develop new products or knowledge.

Chemists analyze organic and inorganic compounds to establish their chemical and physical properties, composition and reactions, utilizing chromatography and spectrophotometry techniques. They also write technical papers and reports and ready standards and requirements for processes or tests. Equally important, chemists have to design and customize products, equipment and analytical methods. They are often called upon to maintain laboratory instruments to insure proper working order and troubleshoot malfunctions when needed. They are expected to compile and analyze test data. Finally, chemists talk with scientists and engineers to conduct analyses of research projects, interpret test results, or design nonstandard tests.

Every day, chemists are expected to be able to listen to and understand others in meetings. They need to read and understand documents and reports. It is also important that they articulate ideas and problems.

It is important for chemists to direct and advise personnel in test processes for analyzing components and physical properties of materials. They are often called upon to induce changes in composition of substances by introducing heat and chemical catalysts for quantitative and qualitative analysis. Somewhat less frequently, chemists are also expected to ready test solutions and reagents for laboratory personnel to conduct test.

Chemists sometimes are asked to conduct quality control tests. And finally, they sometimes have to study effects of various methods of processing and packaging on composition and properties of foods.

Like many other jobs, chemists must be thorough and dependable and have exceptional integrity.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Charleston include:

  • Atmospheric Scientist. Investigate atmospheric phenomena and interpret meteorological data gathered by surface and air stations, satellites, and radar to prepare reports and forecasts for public and other uses.
  • Chemical Laboratory Technician. Conduct chemical and physical laboratory tests to assist scientists in making qualitative and quantitative analyses of solids, liquids, and gaseous materials for purposes, such as research and development of new products or processes, quality control, maintenance of environmental standards, and other work involving experimental, theoretical, or practical application of chemistry and related sciences.
  • Environmental Health and Safety Specialist. Conduct research or perform investigation for the purpose of identifying, abating, or eliminating sources of pollutants or hazards that affect either the environment or the health of the population. Utilizing knowledge of various scientific disciplines may collect, synthesize, and take action based on data derived from measurements or observations of air, food, and other sources.
  • Environmental Technician. Perform laboratory and field tests to monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution, including those that affect health. Under direction of an environmental scientist or specialist, may collect samples of gases, soil, and other materials for testing and take corrective actions as assigned.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Chemist Training

University of Charleston - Charleston, WV

University of Charleston, 2300 MacCorkle Avenue, SE, Charleston, WV 25304. University of Charleston is a small university located in Charleston, West Virginia. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,431 students and an admission rate of 66%. University of Charleston has a bachelor's degree program in Chemistry which graduated three students in 2008.

West Virginia State University - Institute, WV

West Virginia State University, Rte 25, Institute, WV 25112-1000. West Virginia State University is a small university located in Institute, West Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 3,347 students and an admission rate of 57%. West Virginia State University has a bachelor's degree program in Chemistry which graduated two students in 2008.

West Virginia University Institute of Technology - Montgomery, WV

West Virginia University Institute of Technology, 405 Fayette Pke, Montgomery, WV 25136. West Virginia University Institute of Technology is a small university located in Montgomery, West Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,185 students and an admission rate of 46%. West Virginia University Institute of Technology has a bachelor's degree program in Chemistry.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Water Technologist: The Certified Water Technologist (CWT) program represents the highest professional credential in the industrial and commercial water treatment field.

For more information, see the Association of Water Technologies website.

Protective Coatings Specialist: This certification is geared toward individuals who are experienced, knowledgeable and capable of performing work at an advanced level in both the theory and practice of corrosion prevention and control, and who are capable of performing work at an advanced level in the protective coatings field.

For more information, see the NACE International website.

Registered Environmental Laboratory Technologist: RELT -- Registered Environmental Laboratory Technologist is a special registration/certification for persons engaged in the laboratory management and/or analysis of environmental samples.

For more information, see the National Registry of Environmental Professionals website.

Certified Metalworking Fluids Specialist: Certified Metalworking Fluids Specialists are those individuals who have met minimum standards of experience, knowledge and written examination requirements as established by the STLE Metalworking Fluids Certification Committee to provide technical consultation in the field of metalworking fluids management.

For more information, see the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston, West Virginia photo by Malepheasant

Charleston is situated in Kanawha County, West Virginia. It has a population of over 50,302, which has shrunk by 5.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Charleston, 84, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Charleston are priced at $268,400 on average, which is far greater than the state average. In 2008, thirty-four new homes were constructed in Charleston, up from twenty-seven the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Charleston are health care, educational services, and public administration. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, health care, and public administration. The average travel time to work is about 16 minutes. More than 32.6% of Charleston residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 15.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Charleston is 7.7%, which is the same as West Virginia's average of 7.7%. About 16.7% of Charleston's residents are below the poverty line, which is better than the state average.

The percentage of Charleston residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 34.5%, is less than both the national and state average. Starcher Baptist Church, Southeast Church of the Nazarene and South Ruffner Presbyterian Church are among the churches located in Charleston. The largest religious groups are the American Baptist Churches in the USA, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Charleston is home to the John F Kennedy Center and the Kanawha County Courthouse as well as Watt Powell Stadium and Ruffner Memorial Park. Shopping centers in the area include Patrick Street Plaza Shopping Center, Laidley Court Shopping Center and Plaza East Shopping Center. Visitors to Charleston can choose from Days Inn Charleston East WV, Motel 6 and Fairfield Inn Charleston for temporary stays in the area.