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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
  • $85,000

    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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Chemical Engineer Jobs

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Chemical Engineer Career Paths

Chemical Engineer
Process Engineer Project Manager Vice President
Vice President Of Global Operations
15 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Project Manager Project Director
Senior Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Engineering Manager Engineering Director
Senior Director Of Engineering
15 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Senior Process Engineer
Process Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Application Engineer
Applications Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Quality Engineer Quality Manager
Quality Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Process Engineer Senior Manufacturing Engineer Manufacturing Manager
Value Stream Manager
13 Yearsyrs
Plant Engineer Design Engineer Product Engineer
Product Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Plant Engineer
Plant Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Engineer Product Manager Product Marketing Manager
Global Product Marketing Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Plant Engineer Design Engineer Research And Development Engineer
Research And Development Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Chemist Quality Assurance Manager Regulatory Affairs Manager
Regulatory Affairs Director
12 Yearsyrs
Chemist Senior Scientist Research And Development Director
Vice President Of Research And Development
13 Yearsyrs
Chemist Senior Laboratory Technician Senior Technologist
Principal Technologist
10 Yearsyrs
Engineer Design Engineer Product Development Engineer
Lead Product Developer
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Process Engineer Senior Engineer Project Lead Engineer
Lead Engineer And Project Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Engineering Supervisor Manufacturing Engineering Manager
Project Manager-Manufacturing
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Engineer Senior Software Engineer Senior Software Engineer Lead
Technology Development Manager
9 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
Equipment Engineer 4.2 years
Plant Engineer 4.1 years
Process Engineer 3.4 years
Chemical Engineer 3.0 years
Top Careers Before Chemical Engineer
Internship 9.2%
Researcher 4.1%
Chemist 3.6%
Engineer 3.4%
Manager 2.1%
Top Careers After Chemical Engineer
Engineer 4.3%
Manager 4.0%
Consultant 3.6%
Chemist 3.1%

Do you work as a Chemical Engineer?

Chemical Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

62.6%

Female

23.6%

Unknown

13.8%
Ethnicity

White

52.3%

Asian

18.6%

Hispanic or Latino

12.8%

Black or African American

10.2%

Unknown

6.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

25.8%

French

12.9%

Chinese

12.4%

Arabic

7.6%

Russian

7.1%

German

6.7%

Mandarin

5.8%

Portuguese

3.1%

Vietnamese

2.7%

Italian

2.7%

Turkish

2.2%

Romanian

1.8%

Hindi

1.8%

Ukrainian

1.3%

Persian

1.3%

Cantonese

1.3%

Hebrew

0.9%

Tagalog

0.9%

Japanese

0.9%

Urdu

0.9%
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Chemical Engineer Education

Schools

University of Cincinnati

8.0%

Northeastern University

7.8%

Purdue University

7.3%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

5.7%

Illinois Institute of Technology

5.5%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

5.3%

Pennsylvania State University

5.3%

University of Toledo

4.8%

Drexel University

4.8%

New Jersey Institute of Technology

4.6%

Wayne State University

4.4%

University of Alabama

4.1%

University of Akron

4.1%

University of Dayton

4.1%

University of Florida

4.1%

University of Houston

4.1%

University of Pittsburgh -

4.1%

Missouri University of Science and Technology

3.9%

University of California - Berkeley

3.9%

North Carolina State University

3.9%
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Majors

Chemical Engineering

69.6%

Chemistry

7.3%

Business

6.0%

Engineering

2.2%

Finance

1.4%

Mechanical Engineering

1.3%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.1%

Biomedical Engineering

1.0%

Computer Science

1.0%

Management

1.0%

Petroleum Engineering

0.9%

Environmental Engineering

0.9%

Project Management

0.9%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

0.8%

Mathematics

0.8%

Materials Sciences

0.8%

Biology

0.8%

Environmental Science

0.8%

Civil Engineering

0.8%

Plastics Engineering

0.7%
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Degrees

Bachelors

49.5%

Masters

27.5%

Doctorate

10.8%

Other

8.2%

Certificate

2.1%

Associate

1.2%

Diploma

0.6%

License

0.0%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$85,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$63,000
Min 10%
$85,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Median 50%
$85,000
Median 50%
$115,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Chevron
Highest Paying City
Sugar Land, TX
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.3 years
How much does a Chemical Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Chemical Engineer in the United States is $85,816 per year or $41 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $63,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $116,000.

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 27, 2016 $124,683
Chemical Engineer PRTI, Inc. Franklinton, NC Aug 27, 2016 $124,683
Chemical Engineer PRTI, Inc. Franklinton, NC Sep 30, 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
Principal Chemical Engineer Iepfc Inc. Colleyville, TX Jun 12, 2016 $120,000 -
$180,000
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 May 03, 2016 $88,010
Chemical Engineer Schlumberger Technology Corporation Sugar Land, TX Mar 05, 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 Engineer WPAT, P.C. Law Group, Virginia Vienna, VA Sep 12, 2015 $75,000 -
$87,942
Chemical Engineer Advance Research Chemicals, Inc. Catoosa, OK Apr 25, 2016 $75,000
Chemical Engineers WPAT, P.C. Vienna, VA Sep 12, 2015 $75,000 -
$87,942
Chemical Engineer TK Holdings Inc. Romeo, MI Jan 10, 2016 $75,000
Chemical Engineer AKZO Nobel Services, Inc. Chicago, IL Sep 10, 2015 $75,000 -
$90,000
Chemical Engineer Pacific Coast Petroleum, Inc. Hayward, CA Sep 22, 2016 $74,923

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Top Skills for A Chemical Engineer

  1. Safety Procedures
  2. Facility
  3. Chemistry
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Authored procedures and documentation for compliance as hazardous waste generator and trained staff on hazards and safety procedures regarding chemical hazards.
  • Performed engineering verification of the trial burn sections of the RCRA Permit Application for a chemical demilitarization facility.
  • Served as a versatile chemical operations team liaison by reviewing ten different chemistry lab procedures and introducing improvements.
  • Collaborated with vendors to communicate and solve quality and delivery issues of raw materials and transportation of finished products.
  • Experienced with quality analyses of products under controlled environment.

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Top 10 Best States for Chemical Engineers

  1. Texas
  2. Alabama
  3. Delaware
  4. District of Columbia
  5. Alaska
  6. Idaho
  7. Virginia
  8. Oklahoma
  9. North Carolina
  10. New Mexico
  • (1,449 jobs)
  • (242 jobs)
  • (62 jobs)
  • (179 jobs)
  • (30 jobs)
  • (78 jobs)
  • (919 jobs)
  • (132 jobs)
  • (612 jobs)
  • (106 jobs)

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Chemical Engineer: Job Profile

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