What Does a Chemical Engineer Do?
A chemical engineer designs and troubleshoots processes for making fuels, foods, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and biologicals. They take a process developed in a laboratory setting and turn it into a practical application. Chemical engineers are employed by companies in various industries, from biomedical to aerospace, automotive, energy, and the military.
Chemical engineers are involved in the development and production of almost every industrially manufactured product. They design experiments, monitor results, and conduct tests throughout production. In some cases, chemical engineers create safety procedures for working with dangerous chemicals. Usually, a chemical engineer specializes in a particular chemical process such as oxidation, or a specific field or type of product, like food additives.
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National Average Salary
Chemical engineer salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.
The average U.S. salary for a Chemical Engineer is:
Chemical Engineer Job Descriptions
It’s important to include the right content in your job description when hiring a chemical engineer. The following examples can serve as templates for attracting the best available talent for your team.
Chemical engineers research, develop and manufacture chemicals, drugs, fuels, and a wide variety of other products using scientific and engineering principles. They work with dangerous chemicals, performing tests and analyzing results to ensure product safety to consumers. A chemical engineer has a solid background in chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics. [Your Company Name] has an opening for an experienced chemical engineer to take our business to new heights. If you are highly creative and have experience researching, implementing, analyzing, and improving chemical processes, equipment, and plants, our open position as a chemical engineer might be a perfect role for you.
Typical duties and responsibilities
- Use computer models and other processes to build on the discoveries of chemists by testing products and determining their safety for consumers and the environment
- Research new methods of manufacturing chemicals
- Estimate production costs
- Design and implement safety procedures for employees working with potentially hazardous chemicals
- Ensure compliance with health, safety, and environmental regulations
- Design and plan equipment layout
- Monitor and optimize production processes
Education and experience
This position requires a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and coursework in chemistry, physics, math, and computers. Some employers prefer that candidates have a master’s degree or PhD for certain positions.
Required skills and qualifications
- Analytical, problem-solving, and critical-thinking skills
- Proficient in advanced mathematics
- Teamwork and interpersonal communication skills
- Strong technical writing ability
- Experience with database and spreadsheet software
- Demonstrated expertise in solving complex technical problems
- Master’s degree in engineering
- Strong attention to detail
- Excellent mathematical skills
Develop strategically important products for the consumable supplies business. Solve complex technical problems related to the development of consumable supplies. Provide timely technical support to the consumable supplies business by developing new supplies, testing, and improving current supplies, and assisting with quality improvements in consumable supplies.
- Develop innovative Consumable supplies products for plastic card personalization in a fast-paced environment
- Conduct qualification testing and performance evaluation of the card personalization supplies on various hardware platforms
- Work with suppliers to develop and qualify consumable supplies
- Independently lead and manage projects involving development or continuation support
- Conduct experiments and analyze data
- Conduct card durability testing
- Perform failure analysis for plastic card solutions
- Write technical reports
- Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, or Polymer Science
- 5+ years of experience in product development including formulation development in one or more of the following: polymers, coatings, adhesives, inks, film coating/converting, laminations
- Deep understanding of UV-cured, solvent-based and aqueous chemistries for adhesives, coatings, or ink formulations
- Proficient in disciplined product development. Familiar with the phase gate development process
- Proficient with MS products: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook
- Ability to travel as needed, approximately 15%
- MS in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, or Polymer Science
- Proven track record in the formulation of adhesives, coatings, or inks
- Experience in card personalization or digital print technologies
- Experience in identification document security technologies
- Strong technical performance in a fast-paced environment, demonstrated capability managing multiple development projects at the same time
- Competent user of hardware platforms/equipment in conjunction with consumable supplies like print ribbons, inks, laminates, etc.
- Demonstrated ability to work independently on problems of moderate scope
- Strong written and verbal communication skills
- Leading environmental technology evaluation and design efforts for an interdisciplinary team of engineers
- Perform and review comprehensive reports assessing proposed environmental control technology upgrades, modifications, and equipment/system replacements
- Work on challenging assignments that include investigating, troubleshooting, and solving a wide variety of air quality control technology and engineering issues, and implement complex environmental compliance and permitting projects
- Required to independently verify the design of vendor-supplied equipment, perform independent reviews of work prepared by others (including calculations and engineering studies), and act as the environmental team lead in the coordination of all aspects of project work
- Coordinate and provide guidance to project managers, client personnel, suppliers, and other engineers to confirm proposed technologies meet design specifications and achieve environmental compliance standards, and to ensure project work is completed on schedule
- Analyze technical issues, prepare accompanying system specification data, and present your findings and proposals to clients and peers
- Evaluate and review the design and economics of various carbon capture technologies in both the energy and industrial markets
- Evaluate and review the design of conventional and innovative carbon utilization technologies including enhanced oil recovery, sequestration, and others
- You will have the opportunity to travel to client and vendor offices for design reviews, travel to plant site locations for field verification of designs, and attend/present at technical conferences
- You will have the opportunity to develop your career via peer-learning through sharing of knowledge with other experienced engineers by way of ABC Company’s systems of processes and associated “Communities of Practice”
- Provide guidance as a mentor in the development of less experienced engineers
Skills and experience
- This position requires a BSChE or related engineering discipline from an ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission-approved program
- An understanding of the practical application of chemical/process engineering and technology, including applying systems, principles, techniques, and procedures to a project design
- Familiarity with the design and operation of large industrial and electric power environmental control systems such as carbon capture systems, flue gas desulfurization systems, fabric filters, electrostatic precipitators, low-NOx combustion, and/or selective, and non-catalytic NOx reduction systems
- Six or more years of experience in the design and specification of environmental or process control systems for large industrial plants (e.g., electric power generation, oil & gas, or chemical processing). Experience must include the selection of equipment, control philosophy, and the preparation of performance sizing calculations and specifications
- Three or more years of experience directing younger engineers through all phases of a project
- Experience with serving as firm/client liaison in a support or lead engineering role
- Proficiency with MS Office applications
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
Preferred skills and experience
- Professional Engineer License
- Experience utilizing ASPEN or similar process modeling software
- Familiarity with major federal environmental regulatory programs such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
You must be able to plan and run safe experiments, analyze, and interpret the results, model the system in Aspen or similar software, perform a techno-economic analysis, and lifecycle analysis, and communicate your findings. Work with a group or independently and direct work to coworkers and technicians as necessary. Assist program managers with input to proposals, and contribute to brainstorming sessions. Attend conferences, present results, and build/work with a network of collaborators. There will be other duties as assigned.
Knowledge, skills, and abilities
- In-depth knowledge of gas conversion and separation processes as well as knowledge in process engineering for gas separations, purification, and upgrading
- Familiarity with fluidizable catalysts, metal oxides, and support selection
- Knowledge of new and novel synthesis techniques is a plus
- Laboratory skills
- Excellent oral and written communication
- Ability to develop proposals and write reports
Education and experience
- Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering with at least 2 years of experience including laboratory and modeling experience
- Must have experience with techno-economic analysis and process simulation using AspenTech programs such as Aspen Plus HYSYS, and other process simulators
- Experience with online analytic equipment is required
- Experience with Aspen Custom Modeler is highly desirable
Candidate Certifications to Look For
- Certified Chemical Engineer. The National Certification Commission in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering offers this certification that recognizes chemists and chemical engineers who have achieved a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and chemical engineering and have 1 to 3 years of related experience. The certification is valid for 3 years, during which candidates must participate in continuing education in order to retain certification.
- Professional Engineer (PE) License. The PE license is offered by The National Society of Professional Engineers and proves a candidate’s knowledge and skills as a professional engineer. The PE is awarded to those candidates who demonstrate the highest standard of competence and quality. Eligibility requirements include completion of a four-year college degree from an accredited engineering program, four years of work experience under a professional engineer, and a passing grade on the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.
How to Hire a Chemical Engineer
When hiring a chemical engineer, first consider the following:
- Recruiting: Do you have the knowledge, tools, and resources to attract and screen candidates?
- Complexity: Do you need a senior professional, or will mid or junior-level skills and experience suffice?
- Duration: Is this a one-time project or an ongoing need?
- Management: Do you have the time and expertise to direct the work effectively?
- Urgency: How soon does the work need to be completed?
- Headcount: Do you have the budget and approval for an internal employee, or should you consider alternate options?
Answering these questions will help determine the best course of action for your current hiring need. Fortunately, great options exist for every scenario. These are our recommendations:
1. Use 4 Corner Resources (or another professional recruiting firm)
The heavy lifting is done for you when working with a top-tier staffing company like 4 Corner Resources. We source, screen, recruit, and deliver only the most qualified candidate(s), saving you significant time and effort throughout the hiring process while you remain focused on your core business. Understanding your needs and ensuring the right candidate for the position is the key to our success.
This is the best route to take when:
- You need to fill the position quickly
- You want access to a vast talent pool of high-quality, prescreened candidates
- Your position is suited for temporary hiring services, contract staffing, or contract-to-hire recruiting, and you intend to direct the work activity.
- You are hiring an employee as a direct placement but aren’t able to recruit effectively or efficiently with your internal staff.
- You aren’t familiar with current salary rates, market trends, and available skill sets
2. Advertise your opening on a top job board
Your best option may be to advertise your opening on a proven job board. There are many widely used job sites out there that draw visits from qualified candidates. If you have someone internally who can dedicate the time and energy to sort through applications and screen individuals effectively, this can be a great choice.
We recommend using a job board when:
- Your internal recruiting team has the knowledge and experience to assess candidate qualifications
- You are hiring a direct employee and have time to manage the entire recruiting effort
- You have a process for receiving, screening, and tracking all resumes and applications
- You are prepared to respond to all applicants
We recommend using CareerBuilder when hiring a chemical engineer:
CareerBuilder has been a trusted source for hiring since 1995. Reach 80+ million unique, diverse U.S. job seekers annually by posting your jobs through their talent acquisition channels. Through CareerBuilder, you can engage candidates and drive them into your sourcing pipeline. We recommend using CareerBuilder for hiring when you have the internal resources and processes to review, screen, and reply to all applicants.
3. Leverage your internal resources
You can utilize your own website, social media, and employees to assist in your search for top candidates.
A company website posting should be the first step in notifying prospective candidates that you are hiring. Social media can also be a powerful tool for spreading the word about your new opening. As far as exposure is concerned, this option can be as good as some job boards when you have a large enough following across various platforms, like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.
Current employees are every organization’s greatest asset. Encourage your internal team to promote job openings to their network by offering cash and other incentives.
We recommend these options when:
- Your brand has great name recognition
- You can consistently monitor and respond to candidate activity through your website and social media accounts
- You have a process in place to quickly and broadly communicate job openings and requirements
- You have an effective employee referral program in place
If you aren’t sure which path is best, schedule a discovery call today with our seasoned recruiting professionals. The 4 Corner team is on standby to help you find the best option for your unique hiring need.
Sample Interview Questions
- Why did you decide to become a chemical engineer?
- What is your experience with process design and optimization?
- What experience do you have working with process simulation and modeling software?
- What is your experience with scaling-up laboratory processes to commercial production?
- Can you tell me about your experience with process safety and risk assessment?
- How did you approach a particularly challenging project you worked on?
- How do you select and size process equipment?
- What is your experience with process control and instrumentation?
- In a production environment, how do you troubleshoot and solve problems?
- What is flow control, and can you explain how it is used in a chemical engineering process?
- Can you tell me about your experience with process automation and control systems?
- How do you handle conflicts or challenging situations with colleagues or other members of the engineering team?
- How do you manage projects and meet deadlines?