March 22, 2021

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Chemical Engineer Jobs – Description, Salary, and Education

6 min read

Chemical Engineer Job Description

Chemical engineers design the equipment and processes that are used for manufacturing some types of products. Food, fuel, drugs, paper, plastics, and chemicals are some of the most common products that chemical engineers design processes for.

Designing a chemical manufacturing process requires a strong background in mathematics, biology, physics, chemistry, and mechanical engineering, so chemical engineers need to have a diverse academic background.

The goals for a chemical engineer vary from project to project. One project may require them to reduce the environmental impact or safety of a process, while other may require the reduction of production costs so the business can be more profitable. Each of these problems require a different approach, so some chemical engineers focus on solving particular types of problems.

Chemical engineers can specialize in other areas, as well. For example, some focus on developing certain types of products (like aluminum cans). Others focus on particular processes, like making plastics (polymerization) or burning chemicals to create other chemicals (oxidation). Since chemical engineering is such a broad field, there are many opportunities for specialization.

Many projects that chemical engineers work on require collaboration with other specialists. For example, when designing a piece of machinery, they may need to work with mechanical and electrical engineers.

If you love math and science and want to have a career in a field that will allow you to use your passion to create solutions to real world problems, then a job as a chemical engineer could be a good fit for you.

Work Environment and Schedule

Chemical engineers do a lot of their work in offices and laboratories, but some spend a lot of time visiting industrial plants where they can oversee production, diagnose manufacturing problems, and develop solutions to the problems.

Depending on the location of the manufacturing facilities and the severity of the problems they need to solve, engineers can be away from home for long periods of time. For people who love to travel, this can be a big perk of the job. For others, being away from home for a long time can be very difficult. You should consider the impact that this profession will have on your personal life before pursuing a career in the field.

This can be a stressful occupation, particularly as deadlines approach or when manufacturing processes fail. Chemical engineers often work under a lot of pressure, and the expectations of their clients can be very high.

Most chemical engineers work full time, and many are able to keep a regular working schedule. However, working overtime is sometimes required when deadlines are approaching and when traveling.

How to Become a Chemical Engineer

A bachelor’s degree in chemical or biochemical engineering is required for entry level positions in this occupation. Some schools also offer five year programs, which leave graduates with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

A master’s degree in chemical can open up some career options that wouldn’t otherwise be available to you. For example, it can speed up your progression into management, qualify you to work in research and development, and allow you to work as an instructor at a university. If you’re able to get a master’s, you should. It can pay off big, and only requires one additional year of study.

Before you enroll in a chemical engineering program, you should make sure that it’s accredited by ABET. If it isn’t accredited, it may be difficult for you to find employment. Additionally, only graduates from an accredited school can become licensed.

Licensing isn’t as common for chemical engineers as it is for other types of engineers, but it demonstrates a level of proficiency in the field and can help you get a job vs. an otherwise equally qualified candidate.

The first license available to you can be earned by taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. This exam can be taken immediately after graduation, and can be a big help as you look for your first job in the field.

After you have four years of work experience you can take the next exam, which is the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Successfully completing this exam will grant you the title of professional engineer.

Employers in this field normally like entry level candidates to have work experience before they apply. You can get work experience by getting an internship while in college, or participating in a cooperative engineering program. To learn more about pursuing these programs, you should stop by your college’s career center.

If you’re still in high school and you’re interested in pursuing a career in chemical engineering, taking as many science and math courses as possible will be helpful. Calculus, trigonometry, biology, physics, and chemistry all have applications in this field.

Related Occupations

Employment Outlook

There are currently 30,200 chemical engineers in the United States, with 1,140 new chemical engineer job openings created each year.

Chemical Engineer jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Chemical Engineer Salaries

Overall Salaries

Chemical Engineer salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most chemical engineers make between $73,100 – $116,400 per year, or $35.12 – $55.98 per hour.

Career as a Chemical Engineer – Description, Income, & Qualification


Chemical engineers mostly do research work. Their job revolves around finding new ways to improve currently used technologies. They use their chemistry, math, and physics skills to do this job. They also oversee the production of chemicals and solve any problems that may occur during this process. Their job isn’t limited to production of chemicals; they also work for companies that produce fuel, drugs, food, and other similar items. In the food industry, manufacturers use chemicals to increase the shelf life of their products. It is crucial that food products only contain the recommended levels of chemicals, and it is the job of a chemical engineer to ensure that. They protect consumers as well as the workers who work in these food-processing factories. They ensure that no one is exposed to harmful chemicals.

One of the most important job they do is designing new processes for extracting or manufacturing chemicals. To reduce cost, pollution, and to increase the safety, chemical engineers do research to find new techniques that we can use in chemical making processes.

They also design new products/equipment for use in the chemical industry. These new equipment improve chemical manufacturing process and it improves safety of workers.

Work Conditions and Timings

Chemical engineers need to follow safety procedure in doing their job to avoid health/safety hazards. Their job involves handling of chemicals, which is a very dangerous affair. During their training courses, they learn how they can use protected gear to eliminate the possibility of any direct contact with harmful chemicals [gases and liquids.] They need to do this job with extreme caution!


You need a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and practical experience. You can continue studying to get a Master’s Degree. Some people continue studying to receive their Ph.D. degree. More education and experience means you can get one of the highest paying jobs in this field.

Check the following links for more information:

1. Arizona State University
2. Auburn University
3. Brigham Young University
4. Brown University
5. Bucknell University
6. California Institute of Technology
7. California State Polytechnic University
8. California State University
9. Carnegie Mellon University
10. Case Western Reserve University

Job Prospects

According to BLS, the number of jobs in this field is set to increase by 2% during the period 2014 to 2024. The demand for chemical engineers is present in many different sectors. Companies are searching for alternative fuels; this trend is increasing which will help in growth of chemical engineering sector. There are, currently, approximately 35,000 chemical engineering jobs in the United States.


Chemical engineering is one of the highest paying jobs in United States. The median annual wage is around $97,400. Highest and lowest paid workers in this field earned around $157,200 and $59,500 annually. The top wage jobs are available in the fuel industry.

This is a full-time job.

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