Chemical engineering makes the transition from new product development in the laboratory into a commercially viable chemical, paint, or process that can be mass-produced. While the chemist researches the new chemical or process in a laboratory, the chemical engineer devises methods to reproduce in on a commercial scale. This makes chemical engineering jobs a mix of chemistry and engineering and the education of a chemical engineer will balance these fields.
Knowledge of chemistry is required to understand the processes that created the new chemicals or product, while engineering is required in order to devise methods to replicate it on a large scale. Safety considerations are of course primary and that encompasses plant safety and manufacturing safety as well as environmental safety. A process, which generates deadly fumes, would require special precautions to ensure the safety of the workers as well as means to effectively neutralize the chemical fumes before release into the atmosphere. Chemical engineering takes the base product and makes it safe to produce and safe to live around its production.
Engineers will then translate the chemical engineer’s plans into a workable plant.
Chemical engineering jobs are found most frequently in manufacturing industries though some engineers in this field will be employed by research companies.
Chemical engineering is used in producing oil, cleaning products or chemicals that are used to manufacture other products. Chemical engineers can be found in plants, which manufacture rubber for tires, new organic fuel plants and of course oil and fossil fuel production.
The chemical engineering jobs may require the chemical engineer to revise the processes used to manufacture small amounts of any substance in the laboratory into a process that proves not only commercially feasible but also safe in the mass production environment.
Chemical engineering jobs will require at minimum a Bachelor of Science Degree in chemical engineering where core courses are usually balanced between chemistry and physics with engineering courses and theory. This enables the successful graduate to be able to design and plant wide processes. Some of these 4-year degree plans may require an internship while others require only academic and laboratory credits.
Mechanical engineering jobs and electrical engineering jobs are often available for professionals who may also work alongside the chemical engineer designing the machines, which will enable the processes designed, by the chemical engineer to function safely and in many cases automatically.
The chemical engineering salary is among the highest of the bachelor degree starting salaries and range from around $75,000 – $85,000 per year. As with any salary the amount changes with the industry and the area in which the engineer is employed.
While many industries including production is slumping the chemical engineer’s employment outlook remains good as chemical engineering is used in many industries from pharmaceuticals to technology and defense industry components.
Not all chemical engineering job openings require experience in the industry though many find it desirable and some chemical engineers will choose to intern within a specific industry to increase their chances at employment within the industry of their choice after graduation.