Chemical Engineering Career Guide: Salary, Duties & 6 Soft Skills Required

Chemical Engineering Career Guide

Detailed Chemical Engineering Career Guide

Chemical engineers plan and oversee the development and operation of the factories and production lines that turn raw materials into goods like plastics, gasoline, toothpaste, and medications. Learn more about this occupation, including the duties, employment outlook, working conditions, necessary abilities, and how to become one.

Chemical Engineering Career Guide

Chemical Engineers Duties

To solve issues involving the manufacture or usage of chemicals, fuel, medications, food, and many other goods, chemical engineers use the concepts of chemistry, biology, physics, and math. They develop and test production processes and byproducts treatment, oversee facility operations, and design techniques and machinery for large-scale manufacturing.

The following is what chemical engineers normally do:

  1. Conduct research to create fresh, better production methods.
  2. Set up safety measures for people who operate with harmful chemicals.
  3. Create regulated chemical processes to separate the components of liquids and gases or to create electrical currents.
  4. Design and prepare the equipment arrangement.
  5. Perform tests and keep an eye on how well production processes are working.
  6. Investigate issues with production procedures
  7. Check machinery and procedures to make sure they adhere to safety and environmental laws.
  8. Establish managing production costs.

Some chemical engineers, referred to as process engineers, focus on a single process, such as polymerization or oxidation (the reaction of oxygen with chemicals to produce other chemicals) (making plastics and resins).

Others specialize in a specific area, such as biological engineering or nanomaterials (very small chemicals). Others focus on creating particular products.

Chemical engineers also contribute to the manufacturing of paper, electronics, food, clothing, and energy. They need to be aware of how production has an impact on the environment, worker safety, and consumer safety.

Additionally, research in the biological sciences, biotechnology, and business services is done by chemical engineers.

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Employment: Where do Chemical Engineers Work?

The demand for the goods produced by various industrial businesses heavily influences the demand for chemical engineers’ services. Numerous chemical engineers are employed by companies that produce goods for other businesses. Chemical engineers are required, for instance, because industrial and chemistry companies are looking into alternative fertilizers as a result of environmental and sustainability concerns.

Additionally, chemical engineering will keep expanding into new areas like nanotechnology, alternative energy, and biotechnology, supporting the demand for engineering services across a variety of manufacturing businesses.

Salary of Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers make an average of $105,550 per year. The wage at which half of the employees in a profession made more money than that amount and half made less is known as the median wage. The bottom 10% earned less than $62,730, while the top 10% made more than $187,430.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers reported that the median annual pay of those without managerial responsibility was $106,300 in a survey report from 2015.

Most chemical engineers have full-time jobs. On occasion, they might have to put in more time to achieve production goals, design specifications, or troubleshoot manufacturing process issues. Many chemical engineers put in more than 40 hours a week at their jobs.

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Key Qualities of Chemical Engineers

  1. Analytical Skills: Chemical engineers need analytical skills to debug designs that do not function as intended. In order to get the best answers, they must first ask the correct questions.
  2. Innovative: Chemical engineers must look for new methods to put engineering concepts to use. They work to develop novel manufacturing processes, novel chemical and biological engineering applications, and novel materials.
  3. Ingenuity: The ability to apply broad chemical engineering principles to particular production issues is a necessary skill for chemical engineers.
  4. Interpersonal skills: Chemical engineers must establish positive working connections with other employees who are involved in production processes because part of their job is to apply scientific ideas in manufacturing businesses.
  5. Mathematical Abilities: Calculus and other sophisticated math concepts are used by chemical engineers in their job for analysis, design, and problem-solving.
  6. Problem-solving abilities: These engineers must be able to foresee and recognize concerns, such as worker safety, manufacturing, and environmental protection challenges, when designing equipment and processes for manufacturing.

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Chemical Engineers Work Environment

Most of the time, chemical engineers are in offices or laboratories. They might spend time at factories, refineries, and other places where they oversee activities, monitor them, or deal with issues that arise there. Working together with other system designers as well as the technicians and mechanics who implement the designs is a skill required of chemical engineers.

Some engineers make frequent trips to factories or other work locations, both locally and internationally.

Illnesses and Injuries

When handling specific chemicals and plant machinery, chemical engineers may be exposed to health or safety risks, but this exposure can be prevented by adhering to the right protocols.

Chemical Engineers’ Work Schedule

Most chemical engineers have full-time jobs. On occasion, they might have to put in more time to achieve production goals, design specifications, or troubleshoot manufacturing process issues. Nearly half of chemical engineers put in more than 40 hours each week of labor.

Chemical Engineers Education Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a closely related subject is required for chemical engineers. Chemical engineering programs typically last four years and include in-class, lab, and field work. Taking science subjects like chemistry, physics, and biology will be beneficial for high school students interested in studying chemical engineering. They should also enroll in math classes, such as calculus, algebra, and trigonometry.

Some colleges offer 5-year engineering programs that allow students to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. A graduate degree, which can include a Ph.D., enables an engineer to work in postsecondary education or in research and development.

In collaboration with business, some colleges and universities offer cooperative programs and/or internships. Students in these programs complete their education while gaining real-world experience.

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Chemical Engineering Career Guide

Chemical Engineering Career Guide: How to become one

You should prepare for a career as a chemical engineer in high school by enrolling in science and math classes, particularly calculus. After that, you will require a chemical engineering bachelor’s degree, preferably from a university that offers concentrations in your area of interest. A master’s degree can be necessary if managerial positions are of interest to you.

Step 1. Study chemistry, physics, and math in high school

Candidates for chemical engineering confront fierce competition. You should start getting ready as a high school student by enrolling in chemistry, biology, physics, and math subjects early in your academic career.

Specific coursework in trigonometry, algebra, and calculus can prepare you to meet college admission requirements. Enrolling in college preparatory or Advanced Placement (AP) courses in these subjects may also improve your chances of admission.

Science, technology, engineering, and math extracurricular activities can also be beneficial to you. Engineering summer camps and research opportunities are widely available at universities and research institutions.

Step 2: Complete a Chemical Engineering Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering is required to work as a chemical engineer. Consider enrolling in a course that has been granted accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Employers and educators can see that you have a rigorous education and adhere to the industry’s high standards thanks to this accreditation. You are also eligible to apply for licensing in some states if you have this accreditation.

The majority of bachelor’s degree programs in chemical engineering take four years of full-time study and 120–130 credits to finish. Through classroom, laboratory, and field research, you will learn about the innovation of chemical goods and processes as well as their analysis. Additionally, you’ll study manufacturing equipment and process design.

You can acquire the experience that many employers demand by participating in internships or cooperative education opportunities offered by some programs.

To help you concentrate on your area of interest, schools offer a variety of concentrations, including the following:

  • Nuclear Engineering: You can learn about the numerous components of nuclear power, including the design, development, and upkeep of these power facilities, by specializing in nuclear engineering.
  • Nano materials Engineering: This emphasis, in nanomaterials engineering, introduces you to the world of incredibly small chemical compounds and ultra-fine particles with a diameter of between one and one hundred nanometers. Robotics, energy, biomedicine, and manufacturing are all experiencing significant changes as a result of the quickly developing engineering discipline.
  • Biochemical Engineering: Biochemical engineers use technology to produce new or enhanced biological substances, such as cells. Cleaner fuels or improved water treatment techniques might be the ultimate outcome.
  • Energy and Environmental Engineering: This focus might be right for you if you’re interested in researching and creating solutions to help create a sustainable planet. Students investigate technological responses to environmental issues such as clean air and water and sustainable energy.

Chemical Engineering Career Guide

  • Petroleum and Gas Exploration: Chemical engineers with a focus on oil and gas may work on offshore rigs, ships, or in the field. Petroleum and gas exploration. These engineers work to increase output, refine crude oil into usable form, and create novel extraction methods.

Entry Requirements:

  • GPA minimum: 3.0-3.5
    Academic requirements include passing a college-level calculus course and completing four years of science, including one year each of physics and chemistry.
  • ACT/SAT scores: Many schools do not now require these test scores.

Step 3: Think about pursuing a Master’s in Chemical Engineering

With a bachelor’s degree, you can pursue a successful and prosperous career as a chemical engineer, but an advanced degree opens up more job prospects. A master’s degree offers a greater comprehension of chemical reactions, autonomous research methodologies, and improved laboratory abilities in addition to qualifying for managerial roles. A master’s degree is often necessary for a career in academia or research.

You can earn your combined chemical engineering bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years if you enroll in one of the engineering programs offered by several universities.

Entry requirements:

  • Minimum GPA: 3.0 minimum GPA
  • Academic requirements include multiple classes in organic and physical chemistry, as well as four years of mathematics through differential equations.
  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering or a physical science is required.
  • GRE Scores: Many colleges do not currently require these test scores.

Step 4. Establish State Licensure

Many jobs in the field of chemical engineering, in contrast to other engineering specialties, don’t call for a license. In actuality, a large number of these engineers don’t pursue licensing throughout their entire career.

On the other hand, obtaining a professional engineer (PE) license can be necessary if you’re interested in working for yourself or applying for managerial roles. Chemical engineers can supervise other engineers with this license, create and submit engineering designs to a public body, and approve projects.

It takes effort and time to earn your PE license. Going above and beyond is not mandatory, but it sets you apart from your fellow engineers and demonstrates to potential employers that you have undergone extensive training.

Step 5: Acquire Real-Life Experience

Numerous chemical engineering bachelor’s degree programs provide opportunities for cooperative learning or internships. With these programs, you may typically gain the practical knowledge that most employers value along with many months of field experience.

A majority of entry-level jobs offer on-the-job training. Newcomers typically work alongside an experienced engineer and may take part in seminars for additional training. Increasing job responsibility and more independence come with more experience.

Step 6. Become a certified chemical engineering engineer.

A employment prospects may improve if you pursue your PE license, especially in managerial positions. You may work for a manager who holds a PE license without having this license.

Although every state offers its own license, the majority of them have standardized requirements and accept licenses from other states. You need experience, a degree from an engineering institution with ABET accreditation, and passing marks on two national licensure tests.

Related Career Options

1. Architecture and Engineering Manager:

Management positions in architectural and engineering firms are responsible for organizing, directing, and coordinating activities.

2. Biomedical Engineers And Bioengineers:

Engineers that specialize in bioengineering and biomedical engineering design and build machinery, gadgets, computer systems, and software using scientific and engineering concepts.

3. Chemists’ Assistants:

Chemists and chemical engineers can develop, produce, and test chemical products and processes with the assistance of chemical technicians who use specialized equipment and methods.

4. Materials Scientists and Chemists:

Chemists and materials scientists investigate the interactions between different substances at the atomic and molecular levels. They put their expertise to use by creating new, better items and evaluating the caliber of manufactured goods.

5. Nuclear Engineers:

The systems, tools, and procedures used to harness nuclear energy and radiation are studied and developed by nuclear engineers. Many of these engineers use radioactive materials for commercial and medicinal purposes, such as in tools for medical diagnosis and therapy.

6. Occupational Health and Safety Professionals:

Specialists and technicians in occupational health and safety gather information about and examine various work environments and work processes. Specialists check workplaces for compliance with safety, health, and environmental standards. In order to assist prevent harm to employees, property, the environment, and the general public, technicians collaborate with specialists to conduct tests and measure dangers.

Frequently Asked Questions about Chemical Engineering Career

How much Math is required in Chemical Engineering?

Even though the name suggests that chemistry and engineering are the most useful subjects, a chemical engineer needs to be extremely proficient in both physics and arithmetic. You’ll be using math skills to calculate and forecast the outcome and safety of your work through simulations, experiments, and modeling.

How long is studying Chemical Engineering?

Chemical engineering undergraduate degrees might take three to five years to complete.

Is becoming a Chemical Engineer challenging?

Yes, being a chemical engineer is challenging. Undoubtedly difficult, chemical engineering requires a lot of math and physics and is likely to have a lot of exams at the degree level.

What university is best for studying Chemical Engineering?

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
2. California Institute of Technology.
3. University of California, Berkeley.
4. Stanford University.
5. Georgia Institute of Technology.
6. University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.
7. University of Texas–Austin (Cockrell)
8. University of Delaware.


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