I had the honour recently of being awarded Chartered Chemist status by the RSC but my journey has been a little different to many people working towards this achievement. I have 27 years scientific experience that includes starting out as a teenager as a technician in the chemistry teaching labs of Cambridge University and then working as a technician in the Pharmacology research lab. From there I joined industry as a technician in the R&D department with London International Group, where I had the exciting job of developing the first surgical glove made from deproteinised natural rubber latex. Now I work in the Test and Measurement Team at Domino UK Ltd in Cambridge. My role now is to ensure that new inks developed within the department meet the specification requirements for that product. The data is used to support the approval to launch at the Gate review meeting. My role also includes determining the confidence limits of test methods and I have developed a number of test methods e.g. measuring the particle size distribution and the migration/sedimentation rates of solvent based pigmented inks. These characteristics need to be understood when storing and printing pigmented inks. I am also the in-house corporate expert for VOC monitoring and the competent trainer for our COSHH assessment procedure within our department.
Development of my professional skills has been very important to me. I work as part of a small team collaborating with others, so team work and time management skills allow me to deliver on time. Data has to be visible and reviewed so report writing is a vital skill that I use on a daily basis. These are all activities that I have been able to use as supporting evidence for CChem.
Again, why is my journey different? I gained my HNC in 1991, have extensive and varied experience in the workplace and I have been an MRSC since 2001, but I am still working towards my degree through part-time distance learning with the Open University. I have 2 years to go before I will graduate with a BSc (Hons). Although CChem applicants are usually graduates, my Team Leader, Steve, and I believed that I had the skills and knowledge to achieve the award, so with him on board as my mentor we started the application process using the direct programme route. The fact that I have considerable experience and have made a commitment to formalising my chemistry education was taken into account by the RSC and I was deemed eligible to register earlier this year. It took time to put together the final report and the evidence required to support the attributes, but what a rewarding process it was. It increased my motivation, self-belief and self-confidence and it was rewarding collaborating with my mentor to discuss the evidence that I wanted to present.
My circumstances show that CChem is not exclusively for graduates. If you’ve developed your knowledge of chemistry through work practice, are furthering your education and have relevant experience that satisfy the 12 attributes you too may be eligible. Your application will be closely looked at, but that is to be expected. If you have the experience, knowledge and understanding to meet the attributes than call the RSC and talk to the qualifications team. They are really supportive and will help guide you to put together the evidence required.
I can't express just how delighted I am to achieve this professional qualification and I hope my story inspires you to do the same.