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  1. Career Descriptions

Chemist Positions at FDA

View all current FDA job openings at USAJOBS

Description of Position

FDA chemists perform duties that include:

  • reviewing and evaluating New Drug Applications (NDAs)
  • evaluating the adequacy of methods, facilities, and controls used to manufacture drugs
  • reviewing proposed labels, summarizing findings, and recommending approval or nonapproval of the application
  • conducting research projects that study the effects of food components and dietary supplements on utilizing essential and toxic minerals in the diet
  • investigating the effects of drugs, antibiotics, and agricultural chemicals on cattle, small laboratory animals, and other domestic livestock

Grade (Salary) Levels

The federal General Schedule (GS) grade levels at which chemist positions are most commonly filled are:

  • GS-9 through 13 at the headquarters level
  • GS-5 through 12 at the field level.

(Note: Higher-grade levels in both headquarters and field offices are available based on peer review of individual accomplishments or supervisory responsibilities.)

For a list of GS-grade salaries, see the Office of Personnel Management website.


Basic qualifications required for all grades in this position include:

  • a degree in physical sciences, life sciences, or engineering, which includes 30 semester hours in chemistry, supplemented by course work in mathematics through differential and integral calculus and at least 6 semester hours of physics
  • a combination of education and experience-course work equivalent to a major as described above, plus appropriate experience or additional education.

To qualify for higher-graded positions, candidates must have additional amounts of either specialized experience or directly related education. The amount of additional experience or education required depends on the grade of the position.

Geographic Locations

FDA chemists are located in headquarters (suburban Washington, D.C.) and in facilities throughout the country.

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