Chemical engineers are scientists at heart who are passionate about applying the principles of chemistry, biology, math, and physics to create or transform chemicals to make a product or substance. Chemical engineers are for example involved in creating fuels, paints, ingredients for food and medicines, electronics, or any other product that is composed of chemical elements.
Some chemical engineers, also known as chemical process engineers, become specialists in a particular chemical process, such as oxidation or hydrogenation. These engineers have invaluable scientific and engineering talent that make their professions critical to the successful operation of chemical or biochemical processes.
In chemical engineer jobs, the engineers apply their creative, technical and chemistry skills for a number of tasks. They can be responsible for designing equipment and processes, running tests, evaluating their results, and overseeing chemical engineering operations. Chemical engineers often use computer modeling and other technical processes to test the effectiveness of the chemical products, while also determining their environmental and consumer safety.
In this career, they get involved in researching new methods of chemical manufacturing, make cost estimates for production using the substances, and introduce safety procedures for employees who may work with the hazardous chemicals. Chemical engineers often work in labs or in large manufacturing plants.
Given the importance of chemical engineering processes in many industries, chemical engineers or chemical process engineers can find jobs in a wide range of industries. Sectors include manufacturing, energy, environmental conservation, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and more.
Common chemical engineer responsibilities
A chemical engineer is responsible for performing a range of important engineering tasks. Responsibilities may include:
- Researching new methods of manufacturing chemicals, or reconfiguring chemical substances;
- Inspecting, monitoring, testing, detecting, and solving an array of chemical engineering challenges, such as improving an oxidation process;
- Perform process engineering calculations for equipment design, such as heat transfer, material balances, or energy balances;
- Using engineering software and computer-assisted design (CAD) software to execute tasks;
- Planning and deploying functional chemical engineering processes;
- Overseeing active chemical engineering processes;
- Collaborating with diverse engineers or team members, as well as customers on the chemical engineering projects;
- Collecting data or writing reports related to chemical engineering projects;
- Preparing detailed documentation and specifications for the purchase of chemical engineering or manufacturing equipment and materials or to track processes;
- Delivering results in line with agreed engineering project timelines and budgets;
- Ensuring the compliance of chemical engineering outputs in compliance with relevant requirements, codes, and certifications, and in line with customer needs and demands;
- Always ensuring the safety and security of team members;
- Safeguarding environmental safety of substances.
Qualifications for chemical engineers
Chemical engineers should have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Biochemical Engineering, or a related technical field. An advanced degree is advantageous. In some countries, an engineering license may also be required.
Additional supporting skills and experience include:
- 3-5 years of chemical engineering experience;
- Solid understanding of chemical substances and manufacturing;
- Excellent applied chemistry, math, and analytical skills;
- Proficiency in using diverse computer operating system hardware & software, including CAD software;
- Strong verbal and written communication skills to be able to work easily with other engineers, managers, and team members;
- Project and team management skills.