Advice on becoming a formulator

BobzchemistBobzchemist Member, PCF student
For some reason, I can't reply to the original post, so here goes:

DON'T take a job as a technician! It's a very, very, very bad idea.

Maybe 50 years ago, it was normal to start as a technician. When I started, about 30 years ago, once you were a technician, it was almost impossible to get promoted to junior chemist/chemist, and to do so, you had to go work somewhere else. I did it, and I can only think of 3 other chemists who have, out of all the chemists I've ever met. Now? It's completely impossible.

If you can't get a salaried job with "chemist" in the title, don't bother taking it, or you'll be stuck in that position forever - once the other chemists see you in a technician position, they will always see you as less qualified than they are.

I think your supervisor is taking advantage of you, and trying to get someone who's almost a chemist to work for a technicians pay - but you don't want to confront him about it. Instead, tell him that you'd like some input on what it takes to get promoted from technician to chemist, and ask him which of the chemists at your company started as technicians. I'd bet he won't be able to come up with a single one.

It is a completely valid question to ask your supervisor, or his boss, what it would take for you to get a transfer into a salaried chemist position, but do it respectfully. Tell them that you're trying to plan out your education for the next few years, and that you would appreciate their input. Take notes, and ask questions. Do they think that you'd need a Master's degree? Would they accept an online degree, or do you need to attend classes physically? Tell them that you want not to just get the job, but to succeed at it, and ask what they think is necessary to do that. Ask about tuition reimbursement, too.

Most companies would be happy to see someone pursuing an advanced future at that company - come back and tell us how the discussion went.
Robert Zonis, Sr. Formulation Chemist, Beaumont Products "All opinions and comments expressed are my own, have no relation to Beaumont Products, are fully copyrighted, and may not be used without written permission."
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Comments

  • Thank you so much for your insight. It really is an immense help for me as you have addressed all the things that I've been worrying about.

    And  you are right - there is not a single technician who became a chemist in our company and to add details, all the technicians in the past (who were promised to be promoted to a chemist after the probation period) all ended up working for years until they quit and moved to a different company.

    I was already dissatisfied by the fact that I applied as a chemist, but was not given that position because they needed an assistant for the project manager (though after my employment, 3 chemists joined our company). Even those 3 chemists weren't given the junior chemist title, but rather some type of "lab assistant" regardless of the fact that they are doing exactly what junior chemists are doing. (I'm assuming for lower salary purposes).

    Now with your input, I have the confidence to talk to my supervisor about it, since I have some idea of what's going on and I won't be pressured to accept something that I don't think is right.

    Thank you so much!
  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    edited June 2016
    I'd be looking to join somewhere else, with better management.

    You know, formulating care products is a bit of an art as well as the science. You should practice as much as you can. It is only by physically handling the materials that we get to know them properly. For instance, good sensorials are a must. Consumers won't buy products that feel 'wrong'. And sensorials are a personal, physical experience. I can talk about "short flow" and I can talk about "long flow" and someone might have no idea of what I am on about, but if I put a long flow versus a short flow product on your arm and invite you to spread it out, then you discover the difference immediately.
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • I absolutely agree with the hands-on experience. Thankfully, the fellow chemists have been nice enough to let me experience a lot of different formulating tasks. Unfortunately, I am currently in the dark about cosmetic industry, and I have worked less than a year in this field so I feel like it will be difficult to move over to a different company. I will definitely first speak to my supervisor about the possibility of becoming a junior chemist rather than a technician (though I think it will be challenging)

    Thank you for your input!
  • Hello, I currently work as a technologist for a fragrance house, and my manager is giving me a chance to formulate personal care products for our lab.  The problem is that sometimes, formulating takes a backseat to my primary job, and before I know it, a month has passed.  I graduated w/ a MS in Cosmetic Science, but I still need to expand my knowledge on the chemistry on the raw materials.  Anyone have any advice?  Should I continue this "trial" track on formulating at work, or find a chemist position somewhere else?  A lot of places are looking for more experienced formulators, and it can be pretty hard to find a place willing to take a chance on an entry level formulator.

    Thanks!!!
  • MakingSkincareMakingSkincare Member, Professional formulator
    edited July 2016
    marky3320, where are you located?  I know of a couple of places in London, UK which are recruiting and would also take on interns. Please message me for more details.
    Jane Barber
    www.makingskincare.com
    www.learncosmeticformulation.com (free online course)
    Formulation discussion forum (18,000 members): www.facebook.com/groups/makingskincare/
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