Chemical Information Specialist
Chemical information specialists organize technical information and make it available and easily accessible to researchers, students, industry professionals, and others.
Chemical information specialists manage technical information as an occupation. With the exponential increase in the number of scientific journals, papers, and patents published today, the management of technical information is becoming an increasingly complicated task. Research scientists are often unable to keep up with the periodicals and patent literature in their own fields. The primary role of all chemical information specialists is to organize this information and make it available and easily accessible to re-searchers, students, industry professionals, and others.
Opportunities in chemical information include being a scientific librarian, a technical information specialist, a market researcher or management consultant, a technical publisher, a software developer, or a computer programmer. Many people start their careers as document analysts or indexers of periodical literature. Indexing often leads to working with this information in other capacities, including sales and marketing, management, programming, and editorial development. Some indexers move into industry and become technical information specialists. At chemical companies, they support the research chemists by providing the background information necessary to undertake new experiments. Outside of industry, a similar role is played by scientific librarians who manage information for academic researchers.
Other individuals start their careers in lab work and then move into technical information jobs. These individuals can be successful, particularly as technical information specialists, because they have experience with the ways that information is used for making decisions in chemical research.
A chemistry degree can be the key to jobs other than those in a lab or a classroom, and a chemist can bring so much value to such positions. Some technical software companies require their sales representatives to have a chemistry degree. Opportunities outside the laboratory, such as those in chemical information, are open to those with a chemistry degree because they have the knowledge to communicate with both scientists and lay people.
Chemists need to know where their interest in chemistry fits into the overall picture. People who have made their careers in chemical information often find that they like the theory of chemistry more than the practice of it. They love the discipline of chemistry, but choose to apply it to careers outside the lab. A career in the field of chemical information enables them to keep this interest central to their work.
Educational requirements vary considerably depending on the area of chemical information in which you work. Indexers and document analysts generally have a bachelor's degree in chemistry, although a master's or doctoral degree may be required for more specialized work. Additional training and a master's degree in library science (M.L.S.) are necessary to be a chemical librarian in an academic environment; information specialists in industry usually are required to have an advanced degree in their scientific disciplines. The ability to search for chemical structures and for biosequences is also a highly desirable skill. Market researchers, consultants, and individuals in sales and management positions generally combine their technical training with a business degree.
Want to know more?
- American Chemical Society - Chemical Information Specialists
- Special Libraries Association - Chemical Division
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Information retrieved from American Chemical Society-Chemical Information Specialists and Career Cornerstone Center: Chemistry Speciality Areas.
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