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Become A Chemical Engineer

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Working As A Chemical Engineer

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Interacting With Computers
  • $84,877

    Average Salary

What Does A Chemical Engineer Do

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics to solve problems that involve the production or use of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and many other products. They design processes and equipment for large-scale manufacturing, plan and test production methods and byproducts treatment, and direct facility operations.

Duties

Chemical engineers typically do the following:

  • Conduct research to develop new and improved manufacturing processes
  • Develop safety procedures for those working with dangerous chemicals
  • Develop processes for separating components of liquids and gases, or for generating electrical currents, by using controlled chemical processes
  • Design and plan the layout of equipment
  • Conduct tests and monitor the performance of processes throughout production
  • Troubleshoot problems with manufacturing processes
  • Evaluate equipment and processes to ensure compliance with safety and environmental regulations
  • Estimate production costs for management

Some chemical engineers specialize in a particular process, such as oxidation (a reaction of oxygen with chemicals to make other chemicals) or polymerization (making plastics and resins). Others specialize in a particular field, such as nanomaterials (extremely small substances) or biological engineering. Still others specialize in developing specific products.

In addition, chemical engineers work in the production of energy, electronics, food, clothing, and paper. They must understand how the manufacturing process affects the environment and the safety of workers and consumers.

Chemical engineers also conduct research in the life sciences, biotechnology, and business services.

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How To Become A Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Employers also value practical experience, so internships and cooperative engineering programs, in which students earn college credit and experience, can be helpful.

Education

Chemical engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Programs usually take 4 years to complete and include classroom, laboratory, and field studies. High school students interested in studying chemical engineering will benefit from taking science courses, such as chemistry, physics, and biology. They also should take math courses, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.

At some universities, students can opt to enroll in 5-year programs that lead to both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. A graduate degree, which may include a degree up to the Ph.D. level, allows an engineer to work in research and development or as a postsecondary teacher.

Some colleges and universities offer internships and cooperative programs in partnership with industry. In these programs, students gain practical experience while completing their education.

ABET accredits engineering programs. ABET-accredited programs in chemical engineering include courses in chemistry, physics, and biology. These programs also include applying the sciences to the design, analysis, and control of chemical, physical, and biological processes.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Chemical engineers must be able to troubleshoot designs that do not work as planned. They must be able to ask the right questions and then find answers that work.

Creativity. Chemical engineers must be able to explore new ways of applying engineering principles. They work to invent new materials, advanced manufacturing techniques, and new applications in chemical and biomedical engineering.

Ingenuity. Chemical engineers learn the broad concepts of chemical engineering, but their work requires them to apply those concepts to specific production problems.

Interpersonal skills. Because their role is to put scientific principles into practice in manufacturing industries, chemical engineers must develop good working relationships with other workers involved in production processes.

Math skills. Chemical engineers use the principles of calculus and other advanced topics in mathematics for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. In designing equipment and processes for manufacturing, these engineers must be able to anticipate and identify problems, including such issues as workers’ safety and problems related to manufacturing and environmental protection.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure for chemical engineers is not as common as it is for other engineering occupations, nor is it required for entry-level positions. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam commonly are called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education to keep their license. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements.

Advancement

Entry-level engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In large companies, new engineers also may receive formal training in classrooms or seminars. As junior engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move to more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.

Eventually, chemical engineers may advance to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Some may become architectural and engineering managers. However, preparing for management positions usually requires working under the guidance of a more experienced chemical engineer.

An engineering background enables chemical engineers to discuss a product’s technical aspects and assist in product planning and use. For more information, see the profile on sales engineers.

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Do you work as a Chemical Engineer?

Chemical Engineer Jobs

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Chemical Engineer Career Paths

Chemical Engineer
Chemist Quality Manager Purchasing Manager
Director Of Sourcing
13 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Manager Marketing Director
Director, Strategic Marketing
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Process Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Chemist Quality Assurance Human Resources Coordinator
Human Resources Lead
8 Yearsyrs
Plant Engineer Maintenance Manager Plant Manager
Manufacturing Director
14 Yearsyrs
Environmental Engineer Senior Engineer Engineering Manager
Manufacturing Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager General Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Process Engineer Senior Manufacturing Engineer Engineering Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Engineer Engineering Manager Operations Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Operations Manager
President Of Operations
11 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Analyst Business Analyst
Product Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Project Manager
Program Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Research Associate Instructor Operations Manager
Purchasing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Program Manager
Senior Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Senior Project Manager
Senior Product Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Project Engineer Project Manager
Senior Project Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Product Manager Product Marketing Manager
Strategic Marketing Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Plant Engineer Project Engineer General Manager
Vice President & General Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Environmental Engineer Project Manager Engineering Manager
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Chemical Engineer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Plant Engineer 4.0 years
Process Engineer 3.4 years
Project Engineer 3.3 years
Engineer 3.2 years
Material Engineer 3.2 years
Chemical Engineer 3.0 years
Graduate Engineer 1.1 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 8.8%
Researcher 3.9%
Engineer 3.7%
Chemist 3.7%
Top Employers After
Engineer 4.5%
Manager 4.2%
Consultant 3.3%

Do you work as a Chemical Engineer?

Chemical Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

67.2%

Female

25.4%

Unknown

7.4%
Ethnicity

White

51.0%

Asian

20.5%

Hispanic or Latino

12.5%

Black or African American

9.4%

Unknown

6.5%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

24.0%

Chinese

15.1%

French

14.5%

Mandarin

6.1%

Russian

6.1%

German

6.1%

Arabic

5.0%

Vietnamese

3.4%

Portuguese

3.4%

Italian

2.8%

Romanian

2.2%

Hindi

1.7%

Ukrainian

1.7%

Turkish

1.1%

Hebrew

1.1%

Urdu

1.1%

Tagalog

1.1%

Japanese

1.1%

Persian

1.1%

Cantonese

1.1%
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Chemical Engineer Education

Schools

Purdue University

7.7%

Northeastern University

6.9%

University of Cincinnati

6.6%

Drexel University

5.8%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

5.1%

University of Toledo

5.1%

University of Utah

5.1%

University of Dayton

5.1%

New Jersey Institute of Technology

5.1%

Pennsylvania State University

4.7%

University of Connecticut

4.4%

University of Alabama

4.4%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

4.4%

University of California - Davis

4.4%

Iowa State University

4.4%

University of Houston

4.4%

Illinois Institute of Technology

4.4%

University of Florida

4.0%

Wayne State University

4.0%

University of Illinois at Chicago

4.0%
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Majors

Chemical Engineering

68.7%

Chemistry

7.6%

Business

6.2%

Engineering

2.3%

Mechanical Engineering

1.6%

Finance

1.3%

Environmental Engineering

1.3%

Materials Sciences

1.2%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.1%

Computer Science

1.0%

Biomedical Engineering

1.0%

Environmental Science

0.9%

Management

0.8%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

0.8%

Mathematics

0.8%

Petroleum Engineering

0.8%

Project Management

0.8%

Civil Engineering

0.7%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

0.6%

Biochemical Engineering

0.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

47.8%

Masters

29.5%

Doctorate

11.5%

Other

8.1%

Certificate

1.6%

Associate

1.0%

Diploma

0.5%
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Internship
Temporary

Real Chemical Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Chemical Engineer Waldemar S. Nelson & Co, Inc. Houston, TX Apr 09, 2016 $165,000
Supervisory Chemical Engineer (R & D) Fluitec International Jersey City, NJ Jun 11, 2015 $147,680
Principal Chemical Engineer Iepfc Inc. Colleyville, TX Jun 12, 2016 $144,000 -
$220,000
Chief Chemical Engineer Steag Energy Services LLC Kings Mountain, NC Dec 24, 2015 $142,000
Staff Chemical Engineer Siluria Technologies, Inc. San Francisco, CA Jul 27, 2016 $141,100
Principal Chemical Engineer UOP LLC Houston, TX Jan 01, 2015 $139,485 -
$163,350
Chemical Engineer Golden Aluminum, Inc. Fort Lupton, CO Sep 15, 2015 $135,300
Chemical Engineer PRTI, Inc. Franklinton, NC Sep 30, 2016 $124,683
Chemical Engineer PRTI, Inc. Franklinton, NC Aug 27, 2016 $124,683
Chemical Engineer PRTI, Inc. Franklinton, NC Sep 27, 2016 $124,683
Chemical Engineer A.H. Lundberg Associates, Inc. Bellevue, WA Feb 29, 2016 $121,000
Chemical Engineer A.H. Lundberg Associates, Inc. Bellevue, WA Aug 30, 2016 $121,000
Chemical Engineer Environmental Fluids USA LLC Scottsdale, AZ Sep 01, 2015 $120,000
Chemical Engineer Graver Technologies, LLC Honeoye Falls, NY Oct 07, 2016 $89,514
Chemical Engineer Aquion Energy, Inc. Pittsburgh, PA Mar 19, 2015 $88,873
Chemical Engineer Schlumberger Technology Corporation Sugar Land, TX Mar 05, 2016 $88,010
Chemical Engineer Schlumberger Technology Corporation Sugar Land, TX May 03, 2016 $88,010
Chemical Engineers WPAT, P.C. Vienna, VA Sep 12, 2015 $87,942
Chemical Engineer Res Group, Inc. Needham, MA Aug 02, 2016 $87,693
Chemical Engineer Dominion Engineering, Inc. Reston, VA Jan 01, 2016 $87,654 -
$112,698
Chemical Engineers WPAT, P.C. Vienna, VA Sep 12, 2015 $75,000 -
$87,942
Chemical Engineer AKZO Nobel Services, Inc. Chicago, IL Sep 10, 2015 $75,000 -
$90,000
Chemical Engineer WPAT, P.C. Law Group, Virginia Vienna, VA Sep 12, 2015 $75,000 -
$87,942
Chemical Engineer TK Holdings Inc. Romeo, MI Jan 10, 2016 $75,000
Chemical Engineer Advance Research Chemicals, Inc. Catoosa, OK Apr 25, 2016 $75,000
Chemical Engineer Pacific Coast Petroleum, Inc. Hayward, CA Sep 22, 2016 $74,923

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Top Skills for A Chemical Engineer

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  1. Safety
  2. Procedures
  3. Lab
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Communicated potential hazards and worked with plant to implement approximately 30 straightforward, low-cost process safety improvements.
  • Designed and implemented operator training program and standard operating procedures, supervised contract personnel, performed commissioning.
  • Managed a collaborative project with the University of Aachen to develop low-inventory catalysis technology for manufacturing high-volume organic peroxides.
  • Suggested improvements for product handling and application on the production floor based on experimental findings from laboratory testing.
  • Researched and developed chemical processes by synthesis of products in laboratory for log sheet improvement and first time scale-up production.

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Top Chemical Engineer Employers

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Chemical Engineer Videos

Chemical Engineer: Job Profile

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