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.
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 Background
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 Ph.D. for certain positions.
Skills and Competencies
- 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
According to Payscale the median annual salary of a Chemical Engineer with
1 year of experience:
- Orlando, Florida: $78,000
- Tampa, Florida: $63,000
- Jacksonville, Florida: $70,000
- Miami, Florida: $74,000
- Atlanta, Georgia: $80,000
- Chicago, Illinois: $71,000
- Houston, Texas: $84,000
- Los Angeles, California: $76,000
- New York, New York: $75,000
- Seattle, Washington: $82,000
- Overall: $75,000
5 years of experience:
- Orlando, Florida: $87,000
- Tampa, Florida: $75,000
- Jacksonville, Florida: $81,000
- Miami, Florida: $93,000
- Atlanta, Georgia: $87,000
- Chicago, Illinois: $84,000
- Houston, Texas: $107,000
- Los Angeles, California: $90,000
- New York, New York: $98,000
- Seattle, Washington: $89,000
- Overall: $86,000
Similar Job Titles
- Process Engineer
- Fire and Explosions Engineer
- Biochemical Engineer
- Food Hygiene Engineer
- Pharmaceutical Engineer
- Thermo-Fluid Engineer
- Energy Engineer
- Petroleum Engineer
- Nuclear Engineer
This position requires a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and coursework in chemistry, physics, math, and computers. Employers often prefer that candidates have a master’s degree or Ph.D., as well as a Professional Engineer (PE) license. Obtaining this license requires a passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, on-the-job experience, and a passing score on the Principles and Practice of Engineering Examination. Successful Chemical Engineers can advance to supervising a team of engineers and receive greater independence to design and evaluate projects and processes.
According to the industry website Interesting Engineering, one trend that will affect all engineering sectors soon, including Chemical Engineering, is the increasing use of the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart devices are impacting the metrics to measure factories’ productivity. Another growing trend in engineering is the use of renewable energy. An estimated 19 percent of power in the U.S. will come from renewable sources like wind, solar, and hydropower in 2020, and renewable energy technology is expected to become even more popular. This trend should lead to new battery technology as well as advances in power grid management.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for Chemical Engineers is expected to grow by six percent between 2018 and 2028. That’s about as fast as average.
The typical work hours for a Chemical Engineer are usually from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday in an office setting. However, many Chemical Engineers work longer hours to hit project deadlines or troubleshoot production issues.
Where You Can Find Jobs
- 4 Corner Resources
- Career Builder
- Zip Recruiter
- Engineering Jobs
- National Society of Professional Engineers
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