Chemical Engineer

Chemical Engineer

Career Overview

Chemical engineers research, design, and develop chemical processes and equipment, oversee the operation and maintenance of industrial chemical, plastics, pharmaceutical, resource, pulp, and food processing plants and perform duties related to chemical quality control, environmental protection and biochemical or bio-technical engineering.


A four-year bachelor's degree in chemical engineering or a related field is necessary to obtain this position. A higher degree (master's or doctorate) in a related field, which may take an additional two-five years to earn, may be required by some organizations.

Future Outlook

Employment of chemical engineers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Demand for chemical engineers’ services depends largely on demand for the products of various manufacturing industries. The ability of these engineers to stay on the forefront of new emerging technologies will sustain employment growth.

Work Environment

Chemical engineers are typically employed by engineering firms, various manufacturing organizations, and research firms. They spend some of their time in offices and the rest in laboratories or monitoring operations within industrial plants, refineries, and other locations.

Recommended High School Courses

  • Chemistry
  • Math
  • Physics
  • Communication
  • Chemical Process Safety
  • English
  • Calculus 1
  • Calculus 2

  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Negotiation - Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Operations Analysis - Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Persuasion - Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Systems Analysis - Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Systems Evaluation - Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Troubleshooting - Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Production and Processing - Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Far Vision - The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Mathematical Reasoning - The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Number Facility - The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Originality - The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Perceptual Speed - The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Speed of Closure - The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
  • Visual Color Discrimination - The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
  • Visualization - The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Research engineering aspects of biological or chemical processes.
  • Develop technical methods or processes.
  • Determine causes of operational problems or failures.
  • Evaluate characteristics of equipment or systems.
  • Conduct validation tests of equipment or processes.
  • Research industrial processes or operations.
  • Design control systems for mechanical or other equipment.
  • Estimate operational costs.
  • Prepare operational reports.
  • Determine operational methods.
  • Direct industrial production activities.
  • Monitor the productivity or efficiency of industrial operations.
  • Design industrial processing systems.


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Potential Scholarships

5 Strong Scholarship
Agnes M. Lindsay Scholars...

Approx Salary Expectation

Low End:
$66,810.00 /yr
$108,770.00 /yr
High End:
$176,090.00 /yr


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook,
Trend Analysis - Explorer the Market, Labour Market Information, Government of Canada
O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development,