15 Best-Paying Jobs in Specialty Chemicals in 2023

Specialty chemicals are substances produced in small amounts and are used to manufacture other larger-scale products. These products may be manufactured on an industrial scale, or used for small-scale applications.

Because these products can be so specialized, it’s important to know what the job market looks like for people who work with them. This article will highlight the highest-paying specialty chemicals jobs you can consider in 2023 and beyond.

Best-paying jobs in specialty chemicals

The highest-paying jobs in specialty chemicals include pharmacologist, materials scientist, hazardous waste/material chemist, analytical scientist, waste material handler, toxicologist, and medicinal chemist.

1. Pharmacologist

Pharmacologists study how drugs work on the human body and how they interact with other chemicals. Pharmacologists also try to come up with new drugs that will improve people’s health.

Pharmacologists are mainly involved in drug discovery and development, to diagnose and/or find new treatments for diseases.

The average wage for pharmacologists in the United States is $121,823 and the top earners get $194,236 a year.

2. Materials scientist

Materials scientists study the chemical and physical properties of different materials, as well as devise new uses for them. They may work on projects such as utilizing nanotechnology to develop alloys that are stronger than traditional ones or using new technologies to improve manufacturing processes.

Materials scientists may specialize in many different areas of specialty chemicals, including plastics (such as polypropylene), ceramics (such as limestone), or metals (such as aluminum). They can also be involved in research into new products like biodegradable polymers or composite materials that could replace plastic packaging material.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for materials scientists is $79,979 per year. The highest-paid materials scientists earn $155,000 a year, which explains why this is among the best-paying jobs in specialty chemicals.

3. Toxicologist

A toxicologist studies the effects of chemicals on living organisms. They may work in a wide range of industries, including pharmaceuticals and food and beverage manufacturing.

Toxicologists are employed by large companies that manufacture or use chemicals to make products such as pharmaceuticals or personal care products.

Being a toxicologist is one of the best-paying jobs in specialty chemicals. They earn an average salary of $104,995 and the top earners enjoy $213,000 a year in wages.

More: 15 Highest Paying Biochemistry Jobs in 2023

4. Water chemist

Water chemists are scientists who study the chemical properties of water and how it interacts with other substances. They are also responsible for maintaining the quality and condition of the water.

Water chemists can work as bench chemists or data review chemists and must have a strong background in chemistry, physics, or other scientific disciplines.

If you have an interest in this field and want to pursue your career as a water chemist, consider getting an advanced degree to qualify for management positions or be able to take on complex projects.

The average salary for water chemists is $69,116 and the highest-paid earns $107,000 a year.

5. Medicinal Chemist

Medicinal chemists are involved in the discovery, development, and synthesis of new drugs. They also work with chemical biologists, biochemists, and geneticists to gain a better understanding of how biological pathways within the cell may be targeted for therapeutic benefit.

In addition to working with pharmaceutical companies or CROs, they may also work for government laboratories or universities. Typically these professionals are employed by companies that specialize in developing drugs like antibiotics or pain relievers.

According to Glassdoor, the medicinal chemist is among the best-paying jobs in specialty chemicals. Their average salary is $91,863 and the top-paid earns $179,000 a year.

6. Organic chemist

Organic chemists are responsible for the synthesis of organic compounds. They work in a variety of industries and use a wide range of techniques to synthesize organic compounds.

They typically use spectroscopy and chromatography to identify substances, as well as computer-assisted molecular modeling (CAMM) and other techniques to further refine the composition of these substances.

Organic chemists often work with hazardous materials such as flammable solvents or acids, so they must be familiar with laboratory safety procedures.

According to the American Chemical Society, organic chemists can be employed in many industries including but not limited to:

  • Biotechnology
  • Consumer products
  • Organic industrial chemistry
  • Petroleum
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Government

The average salary for organic chemists in the U.S. is $64,605. The highest-paid organic chemists earn $101,000 a year, that’s according to Glassdoor.

7. Analytical scientist

An analytical scientist works in a laboratory setting performing lab tests to analyze and better understand the chemical composition of substances. The duties of an analytical scientist may differ slightly from one industry to another.

Although much of what analytical scientist does is simply to analyze data rather than perform experiments, they are still required to be knowledgeable in their field.

As such, they need to possess critical thinking skills that include deductive reasoning (how did the hypothesis come about), inductive reasoning (what are the steps needed for this hypothesis), and scientific inquiry (how do we go about testing this hypothesis).

The average salary for analytical scientists in the U.S. is $92,323 and the highest-paid earns $164,000 a year.

8. Hazardous waste chemist

Hazardous waste chemists are responsible for the safe disposal of hazardous chemicals and toxins. They ensure that safety measures are implemented to keep individuals safe and that the regulations are in place for disposing of any materials.

They work in labs analyzing the composition of materials concerning their toxicity so that appropriate measures can be taken to prevent harm. Hazardous waste chemists are often employed by large companies that manufacture, process, or use hazardous substances on a commercial scale.

The average salary for hazardous waste chemists is $67,225 a year and the highest-paid earns $121,000 a year.

9. Harzadous material handler

Hazardous material handlers collect, transport, and dispose of hazardous waste. They are required to follow strict safety regulations and procedures to maintain a safe workplace environment.

They are also required to wear safety gear such as glasses, gloves, and suits while on the job.

Hazardous material handlers earn an average salary of $50,257 with the potential to earn $79,000 a year with experience.

10. Chemical engineer

Chemical engineers are responsible for designing, building, and operating industrial processes. They also develop new products and processes.

Chemical engineers can work in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, oil and gas extraction, transportation, environmental protection, health care, environmental cleanup (e.g., waste treatment), and renewable energy technology.

You need a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a bachelor’s degree in a closely related program approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Salary data from indeed.com shows that this is one of the highest-paying jobs in specialty chemicals. Their average salary is $94,103 with the highest-paid chemical engineers getting $130,484 a year.

If you’re already in this field and looking to switch your career, here are thirteen high-paying alternative careers for chemical engineers that you can consider.

11. Chemical technician

Chemical technicians work in laboratories performing tests and analyses. The duties of a chemical technician include maintaining equipment, ordering supplies, and participating in experiments.

In addition to being accurate with calculations and precise in their measurements, these professionals must be able to think critically about problems so that they can solve them efficiently.

According to indeed.com, chemical technicians in the U.S. earn an average salary of $46,023 and the highest-paid gets $64,867 per year.

12. Pharmaceutical sales representative

Pharmaceutical sales representatives are in charge of selling pharmaceutical drugs. They work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices.

Pharmaceutical sales representatives need to be knowledgeable about the drugs they’re selling. This is more than just knowing what each drug does. They also need an understanding of how it works with other medications that patients are taking at any given time.

With an average salary of $73,422 and the best-paid earning of $120,829 a year, the pharmaceutical sales rep is one of the highest-paying jobs in specialty chemicals.

13. Chemical process engineer

Chemical process engineers design, develop and improve processes that involve chemical reactions. They also design and build equipment that is used in the production of chemicals. They may be involved in the production of new chemicals or improvements to existing processes and products.

The job requires a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and many graduate programs will boost your chances of landing jobs in the best-paying companies/firms.

Being a chemical process engineer is a top-paying job with an average salary of $77,191. The highest-paid chemical process engineers in the U.S. earn $139,000 a year.

14. Pharmacist

Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who prepare and dispense drugs to patients under the supervision of a physician. Their duties include advising patients on the proper use of medications, monitoring drug interactions & side effects, providing immunizations, and dispensing prescription drugs.

Pharmacists work in various settings, including community pharmacies, hospitals & clinics, pharmaceutical companies, and health insurance companies.

Salaries vary according to the setting in which they work. Community pharmacists earn an average income of $107,070 while hospital pharmacy managers make $135,619 or more per year depending on their experience level at different institutions across the country

15. Quality assurance engineer

A quality assurance engineer is responsible for ensuring that a product meets all requirements set out by the manufacturer. They review processes, procedures, and documents to ensure that all products meet specifications.

Quality assurance engineers often work in conjunction with production supervisors and quality control managers to ensure that a manufacturing operation runs smoothly.

They typically have at least an associate’s degree in engineering or science, depending on what kind of job they’re looking for. Some employers prefer applicants who have completed more than two years’ worth of coursework from an accredited university while others may only require one year’s experience working as an engineer or technician before hiring them full-time as an apprentice (or even just part-time).

The average salary range for this position depends largely on where you live and how much experience you have under your belt. However, the average salary for quality assurance engineers is $81,211 a year. The highest-paid QAEs earn $137,468 a year, which makes this one of the best-paying jobs in specialty chemicals.


Specialty chemicals are an important aspect of our daily lives, so it’s essential to have professionals in these fields. These jobs also pay very well, with above-average salaries and bonuses for those working full-time.

John Rowells

I am a passionate writer and career enthusiast. I share valuable insights and advice on navigating the world of careers. Join me on this journey of self-discovery and professional development as we unlock your full potential and achieve fulfilling work lives. Let's connect and achieve your career goals together.

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