Chemical engineering careers combine principles of chemistry and engineering to create unique careers that are a combination of the science and manufacturing industries. Chemical engineers solve problems related to the use and application of chemicals. Typical tasks of a chemical engineer include designing equipment, developing chemical manufacturing processes, testing manufacturing products, treating byproducts and supervising production. Careers in chemical engineering can be found in several industries, including electronics, photographic equipment, clothing, paper, health care, biotechnology and business.
Chemical engineering careers involve the application of concepts from chemistry, physics, math, and mechanical and electrical engineering. Chemical engineering consists of several chemical processes that individual chemical engineering jobs may place a specific focus on. Two of these processes include oxidation and polymerization. These careers can also have a focus in one specific field such as materials science, automotive plastics, chlorine bleach, or the development of fertilizers and pesticides.
Chemical engineers use computers regularly on the job to maximize research and production, so those pursuing a chemical engineering degree should be technologically savvy in order to apply computer knowledge to process analysis, control systems and quality control. Additionally, chemical engineering careers place a large emphasis on both safety and environmental awareness. Since this field comes with its dangers, chemical engineers must learn how to adopt safety practices and procedures on the job to keep themselves, other workers, and customers out of harm’s way. Additionally, most chemical engineering jobs come with a responsibility to protect the environment from chemicals and toxins, and a chemical engineer’s knowledge gained over time in this industry can contribute to a healthier quality of living for many.
About 55 percent of chemical engineers work in a manufacturing industry, and of these, the majority work with chemicals, electronics, petroleum and paper. Other chemical engineering careers involve scientific or technical work such as designing plants and researching and developing for chemical companies. Although chemical companies are continuing to develop new products, jobs in this industry are declining. The best bet for anyone pursuing a chemical engineering career is to enter into a non-manufacturing position such as service, research, or testing.
Pharmaceuticals is one area of chemical engineering that is likely to have significant growth. Developing streamlined output processes for chemical companies is of primary concern for engineering companies, and any engineers who are willing to step up to this challenge can expect to excel in the industry. As with many fields, chemical engineers who pursue a master’s degree after undergraduate study can expect to earn more money and see more opportunities for advancement.