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Course Description and Career Prospects

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Analytical Chemistry

Course Description :

Analytical chemists perform qualitative and quantitative analysis; use the science of sampling, defining, isolating, concentrating, and preserving samples; set error limits; validate and verify results through calibration and standardization; perform separations based on differential chemical properties; create new ways to make measurements; interpret data in proper context; and communicate results. They use their knowledge of chemistry, instrumentation, computers, and statistics to solve problems in almost all areas of chemistry. For example, their measurements are used to assure compliance with environmental and other regulations; to assure the safety and quality of food, pharmaceuticals, and water; to support the legal process; to help physicians diagnose disease; and to provide chemical measurements essential to trade and commerce.

Analytical methods using robots and instrumentation specifically designed to prepare and analyze samples have been automated. In addition, increasingly powerful personal computers and workstations are enabling the development and use of increasingly sophisticated techniques and methods of interpreting instrumental data. So, in some cases, because the instrumentation does more, fewer chemists are required to prepare the sample and measure and interpret the data. On the other hand, the demand for new and increasingly sophisticated analytical techniques, new instrumentation, automation and computerization, and regulatory requirements have opened up new opportunities for analytical chemists in other areas. For example, quality assurance specialists help validate that analytical laboratories and the chemists working there follow documented and approved procedures. Regardless of the changes in the workplace, the minimum requirements for chemists seeking careers as analytical chemists include a solid background in chemistry, a propensity for detail, good computer skills, and good laboratory and problem-solving skills.

"It's very important to have an understanding of basic chemistry because a lot of work is done on trivial things that can be quickly and easily explained by anyone with a good [chemistry] background." Basic skills, however, should be coupled with skills in other areas. Employers tend to recruit analytical chemists with experience operating different and increasingly sophisticated instruments that are used for routine measurements. In addition, they often seek analytical chemists with experience in specific types of analyses for example, the analysis of samples unique to pharmaceuticals, food, environmental samples, polymers, or minerals. Although high-volume routine instrumental analyses using well-defined procedures are automated, knowledge of the organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry of the sample and the measurement is valuable, particularly when troubleshooting.

Career Prospects :

Analytical chemists are employed in all aspects of chemical research in industry, academia, and government. They do basic laboratory research, develop processes and products, design instruments used in analytical analysis, teach, and work in marketing and law. Analytical chemistry is a challenging profession that makes significant contributions to many fields of science. Analytical chemists are employed in every part of the chemical, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical, food, and waste management industries as well as in government and private consulting labs and with vendors of chemical instrumentation.

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