Pharmaceutical Chemist

by: Rachelle Dofredo and Anusha Imam

Pharmaceutical Chemist, who are they?

Pharmaceutical chemists, they are the one that design and synthesize new drugs for the pharmaceutical industry, as well as evaluate drugs already on the market. Additionally, there are two primary types of pharmaceutical chemists.

  1. Synthetic pharmaceutical chemists. They are also known as medicinal chemists. They dedicate their work on creating new drugs. Those newly created drugs provides the greatest possible benefits with the fewest negative side effects, while simultaneously keeping the production process cost effective.

  2. Analytical pharmaceutical chemists. They are the one that develops and applies stringent methods of chemical analysis to the product before processing on the market. They also ensure that the drug is pure and that the molecular elements of its structure are easy to determine for toxicological and pharmacological purposes.


Today, Pharmaceutical drug development is a major portion of the evolving field of medical technology in which chemists are greatly pursued by the pharmaceutical industry for their skills in analyzing and manipulating the properties of medicine.

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Academic Requirements

Becoming a pharmaceutical chemist typically need to begin by a completion of a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degree in chemistry, or related science such as pharmacology or biochemistry. Some schools offer specific programs in pharmaceutical chemistry or medicinal chemistry. This programs are ideal since their subject matter is a combination of knowledge in biological, medical and physical sciences in the study of the scientific aspect of drug therapy.


Note: The advantages of Bachelor’s degree in any area related to chemistry doesn’t only serve as an excellent way to prepare for an advance degree in chemistry but it can also lead to an entry-level careers in pharmaceutical chemistry such as laboratory assistant.


Usually the coursework in an undergraduate chemistry program comprises of classes in physics, biology, advanced mathematics and computer science, as well as organic, inorganic, biomolecular, physical and analytical chemistry. Students planning to specialize in the pharmaceutical field should place particular emphasis on analytical chemistry and biology.


Moreover, upgrading pharmaceutical chemist that works as a consultant, needs a Master’s degree in Chemistry. Planning for a pharmaceutical chemist that works in research for a large pharmaceutical company, or work as a university professor, a PhD in chemistry is typically needed.

Required Skills or Experience

Before planning to become a pharmaceutical chemist, an individual must first determine if the career conform to him/her. They should be able to obtain the standards in order for the career as a pharmaceutical chemist become well suited to them.


  • Those who become pharmaceutical chemists are focused in academics and are emotionally stable, since this is required to complete short and long-term tasks.

  • Academically, they have a natural aptitude for chemistry, science, mathematics and analytical thinking. Not only do pharmaceutical chemists possess technical skills in chemistry, they also possess skills in areas such as management, communication and teamwork.

  • They also enjoys the idea of conducting research that will be used as a proof in a real world applications. Therefore the pharmaceutical industry is a great place for this chemists in order for them to work with big ideas and turning it to reality situations.

  • Their thinking ability may apply to a variety of fields such as developing drugs to treat infrequent diseases and analyzing new drug applications from pharmaceutical companies.

Pharmaceutical Chemist Salary

The salary level of pharmaceutical chemists can vary depending on their level of education, their level of experience, where they work, the specific responsibilities of their job, and many others.

  • Pharmaceutical Chemist Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of workers in the Chemists occupational group is $63,190 per year.

  • Pharmaceutical Chemist Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level for workers in the Chemists and Materials Scientists occupational group is $69,790 per year. The lowest 10% of salaries in this group are less than $39,250, and the top 10% are above $116,130 per year.

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Current Demand and Employment Opportunities

Pharmaceutical chemists are hired by organizations that are involved in researching, developing and marketing pharmaceutical products, as well as organizations responsible for regulating those products.


An increase of only 6% in job openings for chemists is expected from 2012-2022, per the BLS. This is largely due to an increasing desire to minimize risks and manage expenses by working with smaller research universities and development services, as well as outsourcing some manufacturing labor to other countries.


Government Agencies: May hire pharmaceutical chemists in administrative capacities in areas related to the regulation of pharmaceutical products, such as reviewing new drug applications submitted by pharmaceutical companies.

Pharmaceutical Companies: Hire pharmaceutical chemists to conduct and supervise research. Pharmaceutical chemists may also work in a management capacity within a pharmaceutical company.

Biotechnology Companies: Hire pharmaceutical chemists to conduct and supervise research. Pharmaceutical chemists may also work in a management capacity within a biotechnology company.

Private Research Laboratories: Hire pharmaceutical chemists to conduct and supervise research. Pharmaceutical chemists may also work in a management capacity within a private research laboratory.

Colleges and Universities: Hire pharmaceutical chemists to perform research, as well as instruct classes

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Direct and Indirect Societal and Environmental Impacts of a Pharmaceutical Chemist

Impact on environment:

From past several years the work the pharmaceutical chemists has a great impact on our environment and these impacts could be negative too.

  • Pharmaceuticals chemists usually make drugs which are found basically on prescription or over-the-counter medications made for human use such as drugs and many antibiotics for cure of any kind of disease, business purposes, nutraceuticals (e.g., vitamins), supplements and other personal care products for instance cosmetics, fragrances, lotions, shampoos, soaps, toothpastes, and sunscreen. These products typically enter the environment when passed through or washed off the body and into the ground or sewer lines, or when disposed of in the trash, or sewage system and this contributes a major role in water contamination.

Impacts on economy:

  • As we know that pharmaceutical chemists contributes a lot in manufacturing many different kinds of drugs which are not only sell and and used within the country only but their research about the drugs and the manufacturing of the drugs also helps in increasing the economical conditions of the country, as those drugs are exported to other countries.

Impacts on society:

  • The manufactured drugs by pharmaceutical chemists have increased the quality of human life and these drugs have prolonged our lives in a way that nowadays pharmaceutical chemists have discovered and manufactured drugs for almost every disease.

Technologies Used by Pharmaceutical Chemists

  • Computers are used in discovery of new elements in the pharmaceutical companies

  • Computers are also helpful in calculation of the cost and making data.

  • Friability tester: Friability testers test the degree to which a compressed substance will be reduced to fine particles or fibers when affected by friction, pressure, or vibration.

  • Dissolution testing: it is an important measure of the ability of a drug to dissolve in solution.

  • Refractometer: it determines the refractive index of a liquid, gel, or solid sample by measuring the angle of refracted light as it passes through the material so it helps pharmaceutical chemists in the manufacturing of gels and other liquids.

Connection to Chemistry

Pharmaceutical Chemists’ unit of study is Organic Chemistry since it focuses on carbon and simple molecular compounds and reactions. They use their skills to formulate, produce, characterized, and analyze new compounds for specific applications. Others devote themselves to developing reactions that make certain kinds of bonds, such as carbon-carbon bonds. In pharmaceutical industry, organic chemistry is one of the main foundation in drug discovery process. It is involved in the synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs since this branch of chemistry is a highly creative science in which chemists create new molecules and explore the properties of existing compounds.