Chemical laboratory chiefs oversee the activities of laboratories. Those
labs might be in industry, government or other organizations.
In general, a lab chief plans the activities of the lab and ensures the
overall quality of the work.
Chemical laboratory chiefs are also called laboratory directors, chief
chemists, managers or group leaders.
Lab chiefs might do any or all of the following:
- Plan and direct product development
- Supervise the analysis of substances in criminal investigations -- the
analysis might be to find toxins or figure out the composition of certain
- Make sure that the lab meets government standards for quality control
- Interpret lab results
Joseph Guth is a former lab director and university instructor. He is now
an expert witness and consultant. "In our laboratories, the director was responsible
for decision making regarding most activities that the lab undertook," he
Some of those activities included deciding which tests would be done, figuring
out what equipment was needed, training the staff and calculating the final
pricing of tests.
"The director also was in direct charge of laboratory health and safety
programs in our laboratories," says Guth.
Barbara Pralle works with an online career service for chemists. It's run
by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Pralle has noticed a lot of companies
seeking chemists and chemical engineers.
"We have had a strong showing of high-level positions which have been posted
on the site," Pralle says. "Most of the hiring right now is primarily in biotech
and the pharmaceutical industry. There's a lot of opportunity there. Those
are industries that want people to come in at an early career level and build
their career right from the start in their industry."
Gale Thirlwall-Wilbee agrees that the demand is strong. She's the manager
of outreach and career services for a chemical institute.
"Anything to do with the environment has been really big lately," says