Chemist

A chemist is a scientist who is trained and appropriately qualified in the field of chemistry.

Chemists at Forensic and Scientific Services (FSS) utilise a range of analytical instruments and other chemical techniques to determine the presence of, identity and quantity of chemicals in a wide variety of samples submitted to the laboratory.  The types of samples we receive includes blood, urine, food, soil, drugs and water, and many other unusual materials. Staff also conduct chemical comparisons to determine the likelihood of two or more materials sharing a common origin.

Our chemists use state-of-the-art instruments to measure the impact chemicals have on the environment and human health, and in a legal setting for the identification and / or comparison of materials related to criminal investigations.

Chemists are employed in the following areas:

  • Public and Environmental Health, Inorganic Chemistry
  • Public and Environmental Health, Organic Chemistry
  • Radiation and Nuclear Sciences (as radiochemists)
  • Forensic Chemistry
  • Forensic Toxicology

Qualifications

A Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Applied Science is required for all scientist positions. Chemists are required to have a major in chemistry where the majority of subjects studied during the undergraduate course are chemistry related.

A Master's degree or higher may be advantageous for advanced positions, such as senior or supervising chemist.

Personal skills

Being detail oriented is crucial for a chemist, since the slightest detail can make a huge difference in the way a sample is analysed and the subsequent interpretation of results.

Finding creative and innovative solutions to unique problems requires our scientists to think laterally.

Critical thinking and problem solving skills are required to interpret results of tests and determine exactly what happened.

Our chemists often have to explain their findings to clients such as councils and law enforcement agencies or provide evidence in a court of law, so excellent oral communication skills and the ability to easily explain scientific concepts to everyday people, even under duress, are required.

Excellent written communication skills are required to prepare clear and concise reports that will stand up to intense scrutiny in courts of law.

Opportunities

Chemists can be found in public and environmental health (inorganic, organic and radiation and nuclear sciences), forensic chemistry (drug analysis, clandestine laboratory investigations and trace evidence) and forensic toxicology.

Chemist positions at FSS are in high demand and are competitive.

Job vacancies are advertised on the Smart Jobs website.

Duties

  • Liaising with and providing advice to both external and internal clients regarding analytical services, sampling, sample packaging and storage
  • Performing automated, semi-automated and routine manual testing via a number of experimental techniques utilising various types of instrumentation and qualitative and / or quantitative methods
  • Interpreting the results of analysis and the provision of those results to clients, both verbally and in writing
  • Working in the field to conduct analysis, such as at crime scenes with police or for environmental sampling
  • Providing expert evidence and opinion in courts of law
  • Undertaking continual professional development
  • Undertaking ongoing quality improvement of services in accordance with National and International standards, accreditation and certification requirements
  • Ensuring the health and safety of FSS staff in accordance with workplace health and safety legislation
  • Maintaining the laboratory environment and associated laboratory equipment, consumables and reagents
  • Developing, validating, verifying and publishing novel analytical methodologies for  clients
  • Conducting research that contributes to the body of professional knowledge and ongoing enhancement of services provided by FSS.

Pay and conditions

At Queensland Health, the Health Practitioners and Dental Officers Award applies to chemists.

You can review wage rates for health practitioners.

Where can I find out more?

Royal Australian Chemical Institute

Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society

Last updated 16 December 2019