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Can a Felon Become a Chemist?

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Felons find it challenging to find a job after being released from prison. They often think no one will hire them, but there are resources available. Many employers have learned that felons make good employees, but they might have to start a different career.

This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can become a chemist.

  • What is a Chemist?
  • What Education/Training Does a Chemist Need?
  • How Much Does a Chemist Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Recommended Action


What is a Chemist?

A chemist is a scientist who studies and tests chemicals. A chemist uses his or her knowledge to develop new and improved products, tests the quality of medications, and conducts research into new pharmaceutical treatments.

A chemist studies substances at the atomic and molecular levels to see how substances interact with one another. He or she uses knowledge of chemistry to make new discoveries and to test the quality of manufactured goods.

A chemist typically does the following:

  • Plans and carries out complex research projects, such as the development of new products and testing methods
  • Directs technicians and other workers in testing the physical properties of materials
  • Instructs technicians on proper chemical processing and testing procedures, including ingredients, mixing times, and operating temperatures
  • Prepares solutions and compounds used in laboratory procedures
  • Analyzes substances to determine their composition and concentration of elements
  • Conducts tests on materials and other substances to ensure that safety and quality standards are met
  • Writes technical reports that detail methods and findings

A chemist might work in basic research, investigating the properties, composition, and structure of matter. He or she also experiments with combinations of elements and how they interact. In applied research, a chemist investigates possible new products and ways to improve existing ones.

There are numerous skills necessary to be successful as a chemist:

  • Analytical skills to understand complex concepts
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Logical decision-making skills
  • Math ability to formulate solutions
  • Communications and interpersonal skills
  • Organizational skills to keep track of the steps in a chemical process
  • Time management/ability to complete a project on time

What Education/Training Does a Chemist Need?

The minimum requirement to obtain entry-level work as a chemist is usually a bachelor’s degree. To become a chemist will require a degree in chemistry or a related discipline, such as physical science, life science, or engineering. Required courses typically include inorganic and organic chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, and computer science. For those wanting to teach at a university or do research, a Master’s degree or a Ph.D. may be necessary.

No type of license is necessary to become a chemist. The American Institute of Chemists (AIC) offers certification of those who have attained a certain level of education and experience. Having this certification allows an individual applying for a job as a chemist to demonstrate competency in the field.

How Much Does a Chemist Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 90,600 practicing chemists in the U.S during 2021. This occupation is expected to show a 6% growth by 2031 which is about as fast as average.

The median salary of a chemist in 2021 was $79,760 annually. This is the salary at which half of chemists earned more and half earned less.

Experience will make a difference in how much a chemist earns annually. The area of the country in which a chemist works also makes a difference in their earnings. Those on the East or West coast typically earn more than a chemist that works elsewhere.

An Opportunity for Felons?

A felon can pursue any degree he or she wants. As many as 60% of colleges consider criminal history in their admissions process, although there is no standard policy regarding a background check. Any felon that wants to get a degree can find a college that will accept him or her. The challenge is in obtaining a job after graduating.

It is important to be honest in filling out an application for certification as a chemist or when applying for a job as a chemist. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.

In order to be successful, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already working with negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a chemist. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.

Recommended Action

It is a big challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to become a chemist. Giving him or herself the best chance for success by having his or her record expunged and also documenting any programs, education, or training completed could be critical.

Having support from family, friends, counselors, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.

What do you think about this blog post? Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a chemist with a felony? What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.

2 thoughts on “Can a Felon Become a Chemist?”

  1. ive been a felon since i was 17. i am now 31. The only thing i have done for work for my entire life is cooking. i never had trouble finding a job because no one cared about your record. they just wanted hard working people. but im tired of it. the career is so unfulfilling. as a chef i was required to work an average of 55 hours a week. i had many weeks were i worked over 70 hours. i dont want to live my life like that anymore.

    Now im finally in a position where i can feasibly go to school and get a degree. I can probably qualify to get my record expunged but it costs too much money. as a felon we are considered to be of less value based on the mark society has given us. and for why? because we did something bad and got caught. imagine how many felons this country would have if the criminal justice system was fair and was able to catch everyone.

    I have my heart set on studying biochemistry. but im not interested in developing drugs. i want to study how food affects the body on a cellular level, how it affects our neurotransmitters and mental health, and how those affects manifest in our physical form. food really is the best medicine.

    Our society is so fucked. the focus is always on having possessions, the economy, politics, and entertainment. people dont really stop to think about what they are actually doing. our lifestyle as a country is causing so many illnesses. it all starts with food. i want to help others learn about this and hopefully play a role in facilitating some change to our food industry.

    This desire of mine for biochemistry stems from my career as a chef. we treat food like garbage and like property. we want quick and easy but dont care about health. as a country healthy food is limited to the affluent. ive seen this throught my career. food is extremely expensive and the time that goes in to preparation is even more expensive. These problems can be resolved by science and i want to be part of that resolution.

    Anyways, sorry for the rant. My fear is that i can not pursue this passion because of a felony conviction. one that i did not even commit in the first place. i know i know a lot of people say that but for me it is true. i took a plea at 17 because my public pretender didnt want to work and told me i was guaranteed a lengthy prison sentence if i chose to decline. life isnt fair though so whatever, i can move on.

    what jobs and i likely to disqualify for in the field?


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