Leather Chemist

Leather chemists are scientists who apply their knowledge of chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology to develop the technology of leather production.

Leather manufacture is concerned with the conversion of raw cattle hide and sheepskins into the stable, useful and attractive product known as leather. Understanding this conversion process, called tanning, requires knowledge of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Microbiology.

Leather chemists are experts on the processing of all types of leather including the preservation of the hides, the tanning of the hides and the finishing of the leather. They also have expert knowledge of the quality tests that leather is subjected to. A leather chemist can move into a senior supervisory and management position on the technical and production side

Personal Requirements

  • mathematical and scientific aptitude
  • interested in chemistry and biochemistry
  • like to work with leather
  • creative in solving problems
  • initiative and originality
  • interest in working with tanning machinery

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: BSc - Chemistry - RU, NWU, Wits, UJ, UP, UKZN, UZ, UNISA, UCT, UWC, NMMU, UFS, UV, US, or Biochemistry - US, UJ, UP, UKZN, UV, UZ, NMMU, RU.

The Leather Industries Research Institute at RU University offers a two-year diploma in Leather Science on a correspondence basis, with practical modules in each year of study at the Institute.


  • tanneries
  • companies that supply tanning materials to tanneries
  • Leather Industries Research Institute
  • SABS
  • self-employment, a leather chemist who specialises in high value leathers can start a business

Further Information

The Director
Leather Industries Research Institute
P O Box 185
Grahamstown, 6140
Tel: (031) 701-4111

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work in a tannery
  • make an appointment to speak to a leather chemist about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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