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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
  • $84,611

    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.


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.


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.


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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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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Chemical Engineer Demographics


  • Male

  • Female

  • Unknown



  • White

  • Asian

  • Hispanic or Latino

  • Unknown

  • Black or African American

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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

  • Chinese

  • French

  • Mandarin

  • German

  • Russian

  • Arabic

  • Vietnamese

  • Portuguese

  • Cantonese

  • Italian

  • Romanian

  • Hindi

  • Ukrainian

  • Persian

  • Polish

  • Dutch

  • Korean

  • Turkish

  • Thai

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Chemical Engineer Education

Chemical Engineer

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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
Chair of Department of Chemical and Paper Engineering Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI Jan 08, 2016 $161,285
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 -
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 -
Chemical Engineer Golden Aluminum, Inc. Fort Lupton, CO Sep 15, 2015 $135,300
Chemical & Engineering Materials Division Scientist Ut-Battelle, LLC (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) Oak Ridge, TN Jan 04, 2016 $130,008
Chemical & Engineering Materials Division Scientist Ut-Battelle, LLC (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) Oak Ridge, TN Nov 23, 2015 $130,008
Research Chemical Engineer Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. Houston, TX May 20, 2015 $129,500
Chemical Engineer PRTI, Inc. Franklinton, NC Sep 30, 2016 $124,683
Chemical Engineer PRTI, Inc. Franklinton, NC Aug 27, 2016 $124,683
Chemical Engineer Sigma Investment Holdings LLC Pasadena, CA Aug 09, 2015 $91,411
Advanced Research Chemical Engineer Eastman Chemical Company Kingsport, TN Aug 12, 2015 $91,300 -
Chemical Engineer Norton Engineering Consultants, Inc. Montville, NJ Aug 01, 2015 $90,251 -
Chemical Engineer Sep-Pro Systems, Inc. Houston, TX Feb 24, 2016 $90,000
Chemical Engineer Midstream Chemical Technologies, LLC Chickasha, OK Jul 18, 2016 $90,000
Chemical Engineer Sep-Pro Systems, Inc. Houston, TX Apr 08, 2016 $90,000
Chemical Engineer Full Spectrum Laser LLC Las Vegas, NV Jul 20, 2016 $90,000
Chemical Engineer Plant Automation Services, Inc. Houston, TX Sep 25, 2015 $76,110
Chemical Engineer Orochem Technologies, Inc. Naperville, IL Sep 13, 2016 $75,535
Chemical Engineer MAPC Solutions Inc. Houston, TX Jan 09, 2016 $75,132
Chemical Engineer Lockheed Martin Advanced Energy Storage, LLC Cambridge, MA Jan 09, 2016 $75,109 -
Chemical Engineer AKZO Nobel Services, Inc. Chicago, IL Sep 10, 2015 $75,000 -
Chemical Engineer TK Holdings Inc. Romeo, MI Jan 10, 2016 $75,000
Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering Benedictine College Atchison, KS Jan 07, 2016 $75,000

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Top Skills for A Chemical Engineer


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Top Chemical Engineer Skills

  1. Safety
  2. Lab Equipment
  3. Laboratory Experiments
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Led caustic scrubber system design and commissioning improved employee safety Motor Oil Additive Formulation.
  • Gathered technical data from lab equipment to assist in a remodeling of lab space, working alongside electricians and electrical engineers.
  • Supervised laboratory experiments in undergraduate junior and senior level Unit Operations laboratory for 70+ students.
  • Trained technicians to follow the new found procedures.
  • Process engineer within the rubber mixing department of a tire manufacturing facility.

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