A BSc analytical chemistry apprenticeship is offered by several universities across the UK, allowing candidates to earn while honing technical skills in analysing, synthesising, and reverse engineering substances. This is one of the many paths you can take to become an analytical chemist.
In this post:
Overview – Earn While You Learn
BSc analytical chemistry apprenticeships are classified as higher apprenticeships with an equivalent academic level of a foundation degree and higher. Once you’ve completed the apprenticeship, you can even go on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree at university.
No matter what your knowledge level of analytical chemistry is, this apprenticeship allows you to earn a salary while learning on the job. To apply for a BSc analytical chemistry apprenticeship, you’ll need to have either an advanced apprenticeship qualification, or an equivalent academic qualification.
What You Will Learn
As an analytical chemist apprentice, you’ll undertake blended learning. This involves dividing your time between training while you work and pursuing academic studies. This is because, although you’ll mostly learn practical skills while being trained as an analytical chemist, you’ll still need to know the theoretical basis of your work.
If you want to pursue a career as an analytical chemist, you need to have a deep understanding of the concepts and theories that underpin the field, while having strong practical skills. This is why a blended learning approach to a BSc analytical chemistry apprenticeship is so beneficial.
If you’re starting the apprenticeship without any prior subject higher education credits, you’ll need to study the core subjects in a blended learning format. This means that you’ll have to work on the online self-study modules available from the partner university of the company that hired you as an apprentice.
Usually, you’ll be required to submit tests, projects, and other academic work on a weekly or monthly basis, and you may also need to attend lectures and seminars. An academic tutor may also visit you at your workplace to assess your progress.
Although all branches of chemistry require analytical skills and analytical methodologies, a specialised course in analytical chemistry will allow you to become an expert in determining the composition, chemical properties, and reactions of substances. During your apprenticeship, you’ll also learn how to use various types of analytical instruments, such as a spectrophotometer.
Here’s a typical example of a syllabus for BSc Analytical Chemistry from the University of Plymouth. This may differ slightly depending on the focus, university, and company where you apply for the apprenticeship, but the core subjects are relatively standardised and won’t vary much.
You’ll learn the theoretical and practical foundations of analytical chemistry through lectures, tutorials, workshops and practical sessions. Key topics you’ll cover include:
- Practice of Chemistry
- Solving Chemical Problems
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Mathematical and Computational Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Physical Chemistry
You’ll build upon our foundational knowledge and skills and learn about advanced instrumentations and analytical methods. You’ll hone your skills in solving real-world problems through teamwork with other students. Topics include:
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Physical Chemistry
- Analytical Chemistry 1
- Analytical Chemistry 2
- Research Skills
- Preparation for the Chemical Industry Work Placement (optional)
You’ll learn about advanced chemistry and cutting-edge technology in the field of chemistry. You’ll also explore contemporary issues and become skilled in project management. Topics covered at this level include:
- Advanced Analytical Techniques
- Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
- Advanced Organic Chemistry
- Advanced Physical Chemistry
- Chemistry Project (optional)
- Chemistry Project incorporating Work Based Learning (optional)
In a nutshell, analytical chemistry is focused on laboratory experiments and project management in terms of solving chemical problems.
Methodologies like titrations, redox reaction analysis, chemical equilibria predictions, stoichiometry analysis, optical spectroscopy, and UV and IR qualitative analysis will be very useful in actual work. These skills will be necessary not only for analysing substances but also for synthesising and reverse engineering materials.
Course Entry Requirements
You can be accepted onto a BSc analytical chemistry apprenticeship or degree course if you have the required academic qualifications or equivalent. Some of the credentials you may need include the following, but specific requirements may vary depending on the institution:
- A Level: A minimum of three A levels, including a grade C or above in chemistry
- BTEC National Diploma: This is an alternative to A levels, but you’ll need to have at least a level 3 BTEC qualification
- International Baccalaureate: You can also apply if you have a recognised international bachelor’s degree from a university in another country
Career Options When You’ve Completed Your Apprenticeship
A degree in analytical chemistry will open career opportunities in various fields. Your training as an apprentice will also provide you with a good competitive edge because you’ll have already been immersed in the day-to-day challenges of the job.
You can finish a BSc analytical chemistry apprenticeship in three years, but it could be longer, or even shorter, depending on several factors, like your previous academic qualifications.
Analytical chemists are in demand in various industries. Aside from being hired by the company that trained you, some of the analytical chemistry opportunities that will be available to you include:
- Pharmaceutical industry: You can work in developing and testing a wide range of pharmaceutical drugs and medicines, such as vitamin supplements
- Chemical or forensic analysis: You can work in law enforcement institutions to help solve crimes by analysing chemical traces of evidence, such as poisons
- Process development: You can help chemical engineers and other chemists improve existing manufacturing processes, or develop new ones
- Product validation: Regulatory agencies would require product validation in terms of compliance with safety standards and quality standards. You can either work with private companies or with government agencies to do this
- Quality control: Before products are released into the market, their quality must be verified so that they comply with health and safety standards
- Toxicology: You can work in medical institutions, like hospitals or testing laboratories, to determine the toxicity of certain samples
Some of the industries and sectors that need analytical chemists are:
- Agrochemical industry
- Contract research laboratories
- Chemical manufacturing companies
- Environmental regulatory agencies
- Food processing industry
- Law enforcement agencies
- Healthcare facilities
- Multidisciplinary consultancy or testing companies
- Oil companies
- Pharmaceutical industry
How to Apply
The first thing you need to do to apply for a BSc analytical chemistry apprenticeship is to make sure that you have the right entry requirements. You can then search for a university that offers a course in BSc analytical chemistry and enquire if they have apprenticeship programmes in partnership with companies.
If you’re already employed, ask your HR department if the company you’re working for offers apprenticeship in BSc analytical chemistry for career advancement. You don’t necessarily have to take the exact course in analytical chemistry to become an analytical chemist. You can take any chemistry course or specialisation in chemistry.
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