What Does a Chemistry Assistant Do?

Nick Mann

A chemistry assistant is a person who assists a lead chemist in performing experiments on various chemical compounds. In most cases, these individuals have at least a bachelor's degree in chemistry or a related scientific field, and are employed by a university or private laboratory. Being effective at this position typically requires a person who can follow orders, adhere to safety guidelines and work independently. Some fundamental job duties of a chemistry assistant include aiding lead chemists, recording experiment results, following safety guidelines, cleaning the laboratory and keeping track of inventory.

Chemistry assistants may be tasked with handling chemical supplies.
Chemistry assistants may be tasked with handling chemical supplies.

One of the primary duties of a chemistry assistant is aiding lead chemists throughout the course of each experiment. This can include a variety of responsibilities, including mixing chemicals, preparing equipment and monitoring each phase. Ensuring accuracy is extremely important, so a chemistry assistant must adhere to protocol and follow the orders of the lead chemist. Since he sometimes handles hazardous chemicals, the assistant must be sure that he wears the appropriate safety gear, such as goggles and gloves.

When working with hazardous chemicals, chemistry assistants must wear the appropriate safety gear.
When working with hazardous chemicals, chemistry assistants must wear the appropriate safety gear.

Upon the completion of each experiment, a chemistry assistant must also record the results. In general, this is done by inputting data into a computer software program to be analyzed. Along with this, the assistant may be required to print out charts or graphs that display the findings of an experiment.

Chemistry supplies may include beakers and filters.
Chemistry supplies may include beakers and filters.

Another essential aspect of this job revolves around following safety guidelines. While the specific policies often differ between laboratories, it's necessary for a chemistry assistant to fully familiarize himself with all applicable guidelines. This might involve handling chemicals in a certain manner, being aware of gaseous fumes and using caution with combustibles.

Chemistry assistants usually assist the lead chemist in performing experiments on chemical compounds.
Chemistry assistants usually assist the lead chemist in performing experiments on chemical compounds.

Along with this, it's typically the responsibility of a chemistry assistant to routinely clean his laboratory. For example, he may need to wash beakers and test tubes, wipe down equipment, sanitize work stations and mop the floor. Failure to do so could result in safety violations or inaccurate experiment results. Generally, this task must be completed at the end of each shift.

Chemistry assistants are often more hands-on in the lab than the lead chemist.
Chemistry assistants are often more hands-on in the lab than the lead chemist.

In addition, it's important for a chemistry assistant to keep track of inventory and order supplies. Depending on the size of a laboratory, this could involve a minimal or extensive amount of work. Regardless of lab size, however, he must constantly be aware of the amount of supplies like chemicals and test equipment he has on hand. To prevent delays or inefficiencies in experiments, the assistant must make sure to re-order supplies before they run out.

Chemistry assistants are often responsible for the maintenance and inventory of their lab supplies.
Chemistry assistants are often responsible for the maintenance and inventory of their lab supplies.

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