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6 Essential Chemistry Lab Skills for Career Building

Ginelle Testa
Chemistry
Teaching with Labster

6 Essential Chemistry Lab Skills for Career Building

Career readiness is always on the minds of students and teachers, both at the high school and university levels. As students think about future career tracks in chemistry, specific skills are needed to build up their readiness. They can begin thinking about them in the classroom.

We’ve identified six essential lab skills based on chemistry resume listings on two job platforms: Zippia and Indeed. Each lab skill is for chemistry career building and we’ve included accompanying virtual labs that can help instructors teach them.

1.) Lab Safety Practices

Students need to know how to be responsible in the lab because Lab safety is essential to prevent accidents and keep everyone safe. It’s important to understand how to dispose of chemical waste, react in the case of an emergency, and recognize standard hazard symbols. 

In Labster’s Chemistry Safety” virtual lab, students will learn how to work with organic solvents safely and will be able to experiment with dangerous chemicals to make mistakes without putting themselves or others in danger. There are also two other chemistry safety simulations about disposing of chemical waste and hazard symbols.

Chemistry Safety2

2.) Analytical Methods

Analytical methods are used to identify, characterize, and quantify different compounds. They can be quantitative or qualitative, and students can use the scientific method to come to a conclusion (1).

In Labster’s virtual lab, “Purification and Separation of a Mixture: Test your analytical chemistry skills,” students will use the property of a compound to match them to the relevant separation technique. Then, they’ll develop an experimental procedure to purify the mixture like a pro! 

Purification and Separation

3.) Sample Preparation

Sample preparation is when a piece of a whole is extracted to be analyzed. It’s more affordable and less time-consuming to take a part of the sample than to examine the whole thing (1)

In Labster’s virtual lab, “Carbon NMR: What is the mystery compound?” students can familiarize themselves with the process of sample preparation of an organic solid compound. 

Carbon NMR 2

4.) Test Methods

There are a variety of tests that can be done in chemistry, ranging from litmus tests to drug tests. There are also a variety of reasons people run tests, such as looking at the composition of a sample, seeing interactions, or determining if a regulation is met (1).

In Labster’s virtual lab, “Synthesis of Aspirin: How to fight students’ migraines,” students are responsible for testing the quality of the product to help fight the outbreak of headaches amongst students during an exam period. 

We also have another virtual lab, “Kjeldahl Method: Estimate the protein content in food,” where students measure the protein content in a food sample with the Kjeldahl method and investigate whether the apparent result has been tampered with by using LC-MS/MS.

Explore Kjeldahl Method Estimate the protein content in food Virtual Lab Simulation

5.) Understand Lab Equipment

There are the basics like pipettes and Bunson burners, but there’s also the more expensive chemistry equipment such as a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer or a Flow Injection Analysis (FIA) Machine. With Labster simulations, students have access to it all!

In Labster’s virtual lab, “Explore Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR): Analyze small protein samples,” students can gain virtual experience from a theoretical and practical perspective. They can get hands-on experience with this hard-to-access tool.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)

6.) Documentation & Reporting

Documentation and reporting include compiling data and research to share with others or to keep records. It may also have recommendations on what to do next. (2) This is important for students because they must communicate complex concepts effectively.

In Labster’s virtual lab,“Separating Mixtures: Using distillation to concentrate ethanol” students have to report their findings to the person managing the limited fuel supply. 

student managing fuel supply at an outdoor campfire in a virtual lab

Questions for consideration:

  • How do your students learn career readiness skills best?

  • What are other chemistry skills students will need to know? Try a search of Labster’s catalog to discover virtual labs that match each skill.

Sources:

(1) Zippia. (2022). LABORATORY CHEMIST SKILLS FOR YOUR RESUME AND CAREER. Retrieved from https://www.zippia.com/laboratory-chemist-jobs/skills

(2) Indeed. (2022, March 11). 16 Research Chemist Skills (Plus Primary Duties). Retrieved from https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/research-chemist-skills