Chemical Information Management

Chemical information management is a great field for chemical scientists who love conducting research and have strong technical skills and computer expertise. These careers typically involve spending a lot of time at a computer.

Typical Job Functions

Chemical information management specialists are responsible for finding, organizing, and disseminating information. Their primary role is to organize the overwhelming amount of chemical information found in journals, patent literature, etc. to make it easily accessible to researchers, students, industry professionals, and others.

Computer software development is one of the fastest growing areas for chemical information specialists.

Job functions in chemical information management include:

  • Search, read, and understand technical information for a technical audience
  • Search chemical databases and conduct chemical structure and patent searches
  • Write about or summarize (abstract or index) chemical information
  • Web programming and web development, in some cases

Career Paths

Most chemical information professionals start out as researchers, with varying areas of expertise. Over time, they may start managing other researchers, sometimes taking charge of a division or an entire library or information center. They may also move into project management.

Chemical information specialists may be found in:

  • Libraries
  • Chemical companies
  • Market research firms
  • Publishing units of professional societies
  • Management consulting firms
  • Technical and trade divisions of publishing houses
  • Software and chemical information database companies

Computer software development is one of the fastest growing areas for chemical information specialists. Some chemical information management specialists work as independent consultants on a project-by-project basis. Most roles require both technical understanding and computer expertise.

Getting Started

Educational requirements vary considerably, depending on the specific area in which you want to work.

  • Indexers and document analysts: Bachelor’s degree in chemistry; master’s or doctoral degree for some specialized work
  • Chemical librarian: Master’s degree in library science (M.L.S.) plus additional training
  • Information specialists: Advanced degree in their scientific discipline
  • Market researchers, consultants, and sales and management positions: Technical training with a business degree

Because this is a specialized market, you may be required to relocate for a position. Computer expertise is becoming a prerequisite, and patent or intellectual property work is a growing area. The ability to search for chemical structures and biosequences is a highly sought-after skill.

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