Potential Careers

Chemical engineers bridge sciences and manufacturing by applying the principles of science and engineering, especially chemistry, physics, biochemistry, applied mathematics, and mechanical and electrical engineering, to solve problems involving the production or use of chemicals. In so doing, they create and improve upon products and processes. Skills required for success in this field include the following:

  • Active learning
  • Communication skills
  • Computer skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Higher education
  • Knowledge of up-to-date practices
  • Operation monitoring
  • Operations analysis
  • Teamwork skills
  • Testing

Career Prospects

Careers in chemical engineering hold a lot of promise. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), while overall employment in the chemical manufacturing industry is projected to decline slightly from 2008 to 2018, chemical engineers will find work with chemical companies, performing research and developing new chemicals and more efficient processes to increase output of existing ones. And chemical engineers in industries such as professional, scientific, and technical services, particularly research in energy and the developing fields of biotechnology and nanotechnology, will also see career opportunity.

Chemical engineering salaries are healthy. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers spring 2011 salary survey, the average salary offer for the Class of 2011 was $66,886—the highest of all engineering professions.

Geography plays a role in the quality and quantity of chemical engineering career prospects. BLS data shows that states with high employment levels and concentrations of jobs include Texas, California, Ohio, New Jersey, Illinois, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Massachusetts.

Types of Jobs

Chemical engineering is a broad-based discipline, with roots in chemistry, math, physics, and biology. While about 80 percent of potential jobs are found in the chemical industry, chemical engineering’s interdisciplinary nature means potential careers run the gamut. Indeed, chemical engineering has been called the liberal arts of engineering.

The following prospective sample job titles and industries that are possible with a chemical engineering degree go well beyond the traditional:  

  • Chief executive officer
  • Design engineer
  • Development engineer
  • Environmental engineer
  • Maintenance engineer
  • Manufacturing engineer
  • Process control engineer
  • Process engineer
  • Production engineer
  • Production manager
  • Quality control engineer
  • Research engineer
  • Sales and marketing engineer
  • Technical service engineer

Other career options include business management, consulting, entrepreneurship, finance, government, law, medicine, military, teaching, show business, and venture capital.