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Career as a Chemist

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

Marking the Differences:

In India, we often confuse between a Pharmacist and a Chemist, even when you search for synonyms of Chemist, the first word that you’ll find is Pharmacist and vice versa. But both the fields are quite different. Chemists are professionals who are trained in the field of chemistry. Chemists study about different chemicals, their compositions and also their properties. Whereas a Pharmacist is responsible for dispensing and managing medicine, educating patients on correct usage of drugs and potential drug side effects, and managing the overall healthcare or wellbeing of patients/customers in the setting of pharmacies or dispensaries.

Job Profile:


There are various tasks a Chemist does but there are some basic responsibilities a chemist has which describes his day at for. For example, a Chemist analyses organic or inorganic compounds to determine chemical or physical properties, composition, structure, relationships, or reactions, using chromatography, spectroscopy, or spectrophotometry techniques. They conduct quality control tests, maintain laboratory instruments to ensure proper working order and troubleshoot malfunctions when needed, Compile and analyse test information to determine process or equipment operating efficiency or to diagnose malfunctions. They also Direct, coordinate, or advise personnel in test procedures for analysing components or physical properties of materials.


Pharmacists' need to perform a complete different set of tasks in their daily job. Pharmacists dispense medications and drugs prescribed by physicians and health professionals. A pharmacist possesses the medical expertise required to advise his or her customers about the intent, risks, and side effects of any medication he or she dispenses. Pharmacists also maintain computerized and sometimes thorough accounts of the use of medications by patients and medical histories to ensure that patients do not mix medicines that should not be taken with one another and obey the dose instructions of their physicians. Also, it is an increasing part of the pharmacist’s job to be actively involved with patients, providing information on prescription drugs, referring patients to appropriate over-the counter drugs, and advising physicians on the proper selection and use of medications.


As every other field, Chemists and Pharmacists too have various requirements that are necessary to fulfil. To understand the requirements better, I’ve listed it down in 3 categories:

  • Education:

  • Chemists :

Chemists are required to fulfil specific educational qualifications. If you want to be a chemist, you will need to obtain at a Bachelor of Chemistry degree. Most research jobs however require a master's or, more likely, a Ph.D. degree. Higher qualifications in the field enable them to attain top designations in the area. Some of the preferable colleges in India that provide BSc in Chemistry, MSc in Chemistry and PhD and MPhil programs are listed below:

SRM Institute of Science and Technology –

Contact: +914427455510

Jamia Milia Islamia –

Contact: +911126981717

IIT Bombay –

Contact: +91(22)25722545

The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda –

Contact: +912652795555

Institute of Chemical Technology –

Contact: +912233611111

IIT Madras –

Banaras Hindu University –

National Institute of Technology, Meghalaya –

Contact: 03642501294

Christ University –

Contact: +918040129100

Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology –

Contact: +914712568477

  • Pharmacists :

There is a whole course solely formed just for educating and training potential Pharmacists. Firstly, you’ll need to pursue your 10+2 with PCM (physics, chemistry, mathematics) or PCB (physics, chemistry, biology). You'll be required to score minimum 50% marks in your Senior Secondary because it is necessary for most pharmacy courses and colleges. Some of the colleges also conduct entrance examinations. But before that you'll have to choose your course. One can either go for a diploma in pharmacy which is called D.Pharm. or a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy which is called B.Pharm. D. Pharm is a diploma course of 2 years after your Senior Secondary. B.Pharm. is a better education in the pharmaceuticals where you will get a Bachelor's degree and become eligible for M.Pharm. The Preferred Colleges are listed below:

Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences –

Contact: 08202922482

JSS College of Pharmacy –

Contact: +918212548400

LM College of Pharmacy –

Contact: +917926302746

Goa College of Pharmacy –

Jamia Hamdard University –

Contact: 01126059688

University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences –

Contact: 18001802065

Institute of Chemical Technology –

Contact: +912233611111

Chandigarh University –

Contact: 1800121288800

Bombay College of Pharmacy –

Contact: +912226670871


Contact: +915422307002

Skills :

Both Chemists and Pharmacists need some certain set of skills. Details of the skills are listed below respectively:


  1. Problem Solving and Critical Thinking Skills: Your work as a chemist will identify problems and come up with possible solutions to them. Before implementing those fixes, you will have to evaluate each one and then predict which one will be the most effective.

  2. Speaking, Listening, and Interpersonal Skills: Since your job is likely to involve working on a team, the ability to communicate with others is essential.

  3. Time Management Skills: Excellent time management skills will allow you to meet deadlines.

  4. Analytical Skills: Chemists, like other scientists, must analyze a lot of data

  5. Organizational Skills: Strong organizational skills will be needed to keep track of your data, and carefully document all processes and results.

Pharmacists –

  1. Accuracy: Pharmacists are expected to dispense medicines in error-free manner and that quick, too. They have to understand the handwriting of doctors. Humans are naturally known to make mistakes, but Pharmacist should be accurate in his work, because it’s a matter of life or death.

  2. Communication Skills: Communication skills are important for most of the professionals and it is important to have command on English as well as local languages. It is important while you communicate with patients. It is duty of pharmacists to communicate with patients regarding dose of administration, when to take and how to take medicines.

  3. Proof Reading: Sometimes doctors miss drug-drug interaction and prescribe such medications. Then pharmacists can become proof-readers and inform back doctors about it and suggest changes in prescription. But, before that, pharmacist have to study intensively on same.

  4. Interpersonal Skills: Pharmacists often have to struggle between doctors who don’t like to be questioned and frustrated patients who may get upset due to waiting for their prescriptions. Pharmacists need interpersonal skills like patience, diplomacy and a good sense of humour.

  5. Management Skills: When chain pharmacies are part of the country and big hospitals require senior pharmacists who can manage budgets, monitor inventories and keep accountable records. Pharmacists are also responsible for supervising and manage junior staff.

  6. Multitasking: Pharmacists are involved in multiple tasks along with dispensing of medicines. Pharmacists are responsible for checking expiry dates of medicines, stocking of required medicines, recording and many other small to big tasks are assigned to them.

  7. Patient Counselling: It is most important among all the skills. Patient counselling refers to the process of providing vital information, advice and assistance to help patients with their medications and to ensure patients to take medicines properly.

  8. Computer Skills: When the world is moving towards online pharmacies (e-Pharmacy), it is obviously that pharmacists should have knowledge of same.

  9. Gaining knowledge: Pharmaceutical field is a field of innovation and many new medicines as well as products hit the market. It is necessary for pharmacists to keep themselves up to date in knowledge and keep learning professional things.

  10. Professional Ethics: Pharmacists are expected to follow ethical practise. They have to keep secret about patient information. If there are some patients who are purchasing anti-HIV medicines from a pharmacist and they are from neighbourhood or distant still their details are not disclosed in community in any circumstances.

Job Outlook –


Sea of career options, starting from in industry, government to academia, are available for Chemistry graduates. Pick the one that's your call:

  1. Research & Development

  2. Analytical Chemist

  3. Forensic Expert

  4. Cheminformatics

  5. Crystallography

  6. Chemical Engineer

  7. Industrial Management

  8. QC in Chemical Health & Safety

  9. Quality Assurance

  10. Regulatory Affairs

  11. Toxicology

  12. Quality Control

  13. Technical Support

  14. Formulation Chemistry

  15. Process Chemistry

  16. Hazardous Waste Management

  17. Public Safety

  18. Science Policy

  19. Basic Research

  20. Professor

Average Income: A Junior Chemist earns around ₹16,000 per month whereas a Senior chemist earns around ₹24,000 per month.

Pharmacists – A Pharmacist has a wide scope to render his services in a variety of levels and business operations related to medicines. The pharmacists get flexible options for their work. The Pharmaceutical industry is recession-free. So, the Pharmacists can have a great level of job security and growth prospects. Compared to the other professions in the medical line, pharmacist’s job is less complicated and less stressful as well. Pharmacists would have a comparatively hygienic work environment. Also, Pharmacists have great prospects being an employee of a hospital, research institute, or a manufacturing unit. Similarly, they have business opportunities as well.

Average Income: The salary for pharmacists varies based on experience and location, but the minimum start-up salary for a pharmacist who has just finished his/her training is generally about Rs.25,000. An average annual salary falls somewhere between Rs.71,422 and Rs.4,93,286. Government hospital salaries start at Rs.5000; medical representatives about Rs5000 – Rs.10000, not to mention incentives; lab researchers may command between Rs.15,000 – Rs.40,000 a month. Manufacturing units are paid in handsome figures.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the various types of Pharmacy?

There are many different types of pharmacy, and other places where a trained pharmacist may work. This includes:

  • community pharmacy

  • hospital pharmacy

  • clinical pharmacy

  • industrial pharmacy

  • compounding pharmacy

  • consulting pharmacy

  • ambulatory care pharmacy

  • regulatory pharmacy

  • home care pharmacy

How are chemists and pharmacists different?

Chemists are experts in Chemistry, a branch of physical science, that is the study of the properties and building (synthesis) of molecules. Whereas Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who practice in pharmacy, the field of health sciences focusing on safe and effective medication use.

Do pharmacists use chemistry?

Pharmacists do need a knowledge of chemistry, but working in a pharmacy is nothing like working in a pharmaceutical lab developing new drugs.

Where does a Chemist work?

All chemists work indoors in laboratories and other controlled environments conducive to compromised research. They work with various types of scientific equipment, such as spectrometers and chromatographs, which allow the scientists to examine and evaluate chemicals and their compounds at a microscopic level.

Is being a Chemist dangerous?

Although chemists are trained in proper precautions, the chemicals they handle can still be hazardous to their health. "Nature" magazine reported in 2006 that explosions and accidental poisonings in chemistry labs have resulted in serious injuries such as blindness and even in death.

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