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Become A Plastics Engineer

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Working As A Plastics Engineer

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Interacting With Computers
  • $83,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Plastics 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 Plastics 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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Plastics Engineer Career Paths

Plastics Engineer
Manufacturing Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Manufacturing Engineer Project Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Manufacturing Engineer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Project Manager Product Manager
Product Marketing Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Quality Engineer Quality Assurance Manager
Quality Assurance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Process Engineer Engineering Manager
Senior Engineering Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Engineering Manager Project Manager Product Manager
Product Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Engineer Project Manager Quality Manager
Quality Systems Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Engineer Senior Software Engineer Vice President
Vice President Of Global Operations
15 Yearsyrs
Research And Development Engineer Mechanical Design Engineer Product Engineer
Product Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Manufacturing Engineer Operations Manager Assistant Director
Acting Director
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Manufacturing Engineer Senior Project Engineer Senior Process Engineer
Process Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Manufacturing Engineer Senior Quality Engineer Quality Manager
Quality Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Owner Co-Founder
Chief Technology Officer & Founder
9 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Product Manager Business Unit Manager
Value Stream Manager
13 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Operations Program Manager Manufacturing Manager
Research And Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Plastics Engineer?

Average Yearly Salary
$83,000
Show Salaries
$59,000
Min 10%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$83,000
Median 50%
$117,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Bausch + Lomb
Highest Paying City
Fremont, CA
Highest Paying State
District of Columbia
Avg Experience Level
3.7 years
How much does a Plastics Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Plastics Engineer in the United States is $84,073 per year or $40 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $60,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $117,000.

Real Plastics Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Plastics & Composites Engineer Ingersoll Rand Company Evans, GA Jan 12, 2016 $106,000
Plastics Engineer Motorola Solutions, Inc. Holtsville, NY Sep 11, 2012 $94,744 -
$106,078
Plastics Engineer and Polymer Scientist NBD Nanotechnologies, Inc. MA Jun 09, 2016 $88,941
Plastics Engineer Matrex, A Division of Leggett & Platt Components C Greensboro, NC Sep 06, 2014 $87,334
Engineer, Plastics EVS Mecedes-Benz Us International, Inc. Vance, AL Sep 12, 2013 $84,000 -
$94,000
Plastics Engineer Rio Products INTL Idaho Falls, ID Jan 23, 2015 $77,958
Plastics Engineer Rio Products INTL Inc. Idaho Falls, ID Aug 31, 2012 $76,731
Plastics Engineer Bold Strides Solutions, LLC Mentor, OH Sep 01, 2014 $75,000
Plastics Engineer Avanti Corp. Clarksville, TN Oct 01, 2010 $75,000
Plastics Engineer Vitalmed, Inc. Lakeville, MA Sep 02, 2015 $72,654
Manufacturing Plastics Engineer Smiths Medical ASD, Inc. Southington, CT Feb 28, 2011 $71,293
Plastics Engineer Rio Products INTL. Inc. Idaho Falls, ID Sep 01, 2015 $69,202 -
$83,574
Plastics Engineer Rio Products INTL. Inc. Idaho Falls, ID Aug 31, 2015 $69,202 -
$83,574
Manufacturing Plastics Engineer Smiths Medical ASD, Inc. Southington, CT Oct 20, 2009 $67,500 -
$72,000
Senior Plastics Engineer Turfstore.com, Inc. Calhoun, GA Oct 01, 2009 $66,560
Plastics Engineer TYCO Electronics Corporation, A Te Connectivity Ltd. Company Winston-Salem, NC Sep 14, 2016 $66,000 -
$76,000
Plastics Engineer Motorola, Inc. Holtsville, NY Sep 11, 2009 $65,104 -
$113,500
Design and Plastics Engineer Halosource, Inc. Bothell, WA Nov 30, 2009 $62,500 -
$67,000
Plastics Engineer Brentwood Industries, Inc. Reading, PA Dec 31, 2015 $60,000 -
$83,000
Plastics Engineer Axygen, Inc. Union City, CA Apr 11, 2010 $56,200

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Top Skills for A Plastics Engineer

  1. Mold Parts
  2. Plastic Parts
  3. New Product Development
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed mechanical design, plastic part design and managed the manufacture of equipment for making plastic parts.
  • Contributed to cross-functional new product development teams with tooling and design engineers.
  • Created Plastics Training class that covered; plastic part design, plastic materials, injection molding and mold construction.
  • Reduced GP risk for high volume resins by identifying cost effective alternates without sacrificing product quality.
  • Devised and managed new material handling system project for injection molding department, resulting in annual cost savings of $23K.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Plastics Engineers

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Texas
  3. Delaware
  4. Vermont
  5. Maryland
  6. Alabama
  7. Idaho
  8. Alaska
  9. Virginia
  10. Arizona
  • (148 jobs)
  • (967 jobs)
  • (46 jobs)
  • (43 jobs)
  • (339 jobs)
  • (173 jobs)
  • (56 jobs)
  • (15 jobs)
  • (690 jobs)
  • (226 jobs)

Plastics Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

75.6%

Unknown

15.6%

Female

8.9%
Ethnicity

White

59.3%

Asian

14.6%

Hispanic or Latino

13.9%

Black or African American

9.0%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

28.6%

German

21.4%

Japanese

14.3%

Cantonese

14.3%

Mandarin

14.3%

Chinese

7.1%
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Plastics Engineer Education

Schools

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

27.0%

Ferris State University

9.5%

Pittsburg State University

6.8%

Pennsylvania State University

6.8%

Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Erie-Behrend College

5.4%

University of Akron

5.4%

University of Phoenix

5.4%

University of Texas at El Paso

4.1%

Arizona State University

2.7%

Shawnee State University

2.7%

Kettering University

2.7%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

2.7%

Johns Hopkins University

2.7%

University of Toledo

2.7%

University of Wisconsin - Stout

2.7%

New Jersey Institute of Technology

2.7%

St Clair County Community College

2.7%

Ball State University

2.7%

Eastern Michigan University

1.4%

University of Florida

1.4%
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Majors

Plastics Engineering

32.6%

Business

12.9%

Mechanical Engineering

11.4%

Chemical Engineering

7.6%

Industrial Technology

5.3%

Management

4.5%

Engineering Technology

3.8%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

2.3%

Chemistry

2.3%

Engineering And Industrial Management

2.3%

Metallurgical Engineering

1.5%

Drafting And Design

1.5%

Manufacturing Engineering

1.5%

Pharmacy

1.5%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.5%

Finance

1.5%

Computer Science

1.5%

Graphic Design

1.5%

Materials Sciences

1.5%

Electrical Engineering

1.5%
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Degrees

Bachelors

41.7%

Masters

24.5%

Other

17.2%

Associate

8.6%

Certificate

4.3%

Doctorate

3.1%

Diploma

0.6%
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