What Is Instrumental Chemistry?

Instrumental chemistry involves the use of complex machines within the field of analytical chemistry. Working in this field of chemistry requires at least a bachelor's degree, but holding an advanced degree is necessary for most research jobs. Schools offering Environmental Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Instrumental Chemistry Defined

Instrumental chemistry, or instrumental analysis, is a component of analytical chemistry. This field uses instruments to analyze particles and molecules. Part of analytical chemistry is exploring how these instruments work within the framework of research.

Two common methods of instrumentation are spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Spectroscopy uses electromagnetic radiation, while mass spectrometry uses magnetic and electric fields. Instrumental chemistry is utilized within the food, pharmaceutical, medical and environmental industries.

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Instrumental chemistry and analytical chemistry are not commonly offered as majors at the undergraduate level. At the bachelor's degree level, you can major in chemistry, where you might find either core coursework or elective coursework in analytical chemistry and instrumental analysis. Associate's degree programs provide you with a foundational understanding of chemistry so that you can transfer into a bachelor's degree program.

Graduate Degree Programs

At the master's degree and Ph.D. levels, you are more likely to come across chemistry programs that offer specializations in analytical chemistry. In these programs you'll use various instrumentation methods to study organic and inorganic materials. Course topics may include analytical methods, biochemistry, chromatography and physical chemistry.

Career Overview

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 6% increase in employment opportunities for chemists in general for the time period of 2012-2022. Opportunities in environmental research are expected to increase as the need for new and improved technologies used to measure pollutants rises, and alternative energy research will also be in demand. If you hold an advanced degree, you might have better opportunities for employment in research laboratories within academia, government or private enterprise. As of 2012, the median annual salary of all chemists was $71,770.

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