Chemical engineers apply math and science knowledge to create new manufacturing methods and develop new processes and proper safety procedures for working with chemicals. Materials like plastics, mass-produced pharmaceuticals, cleaner forms of fossil fuels and genetic research are all made possible due to the work of chemical engineers.
Becoming a chemical engineer requires intense instruction from a formal postsecondary program. There are multiple levels of education available to chemical engineers, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels. This guide is intended to give an overview of the chemical engineer profession, as well as the educational paths available and what students can expect from each one
How to Become a Chemical Engineer
Chemical engineering is an attractive field, not only for its interdisciplinary nature but also because it tends to be less formal than other types of engineering. Positions abound for those with bachelor’s to Ph.D. level degrees, and graduates are able to enter the field directly after completing coursework. The steps below outline the steps needed to gain the proper education, licensure, and experience to enter the field as a strong candidate. here is How to Become a Chemical Engineer
1. EARN A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN CHEMICAL ENGINEERING
Degrees in chemical engineering exist at the bachelor’s level and will prepare graduates for entry-level positions in the field. In addition to chemistry classes, students also study in physics, biology, mathematics, and kinetics through a mix of classroom teaching, laboratory experiments and fieldwork placements.
While a master’s degree isn’t required, it can help students advance their careers to managerial levels or into research positions. It will also help those who completed their bachelor’s degree in a different field get up to speed on necessary skills and knowledge. After covering the same areas of a bachelor’s degree more in-depth, students at this level typically complete a research project or fieldwork placement.
PhDs in chemical engineering are reserved for students who wish to work in the most specialized areas of development and production or teach the discipline at the collegiate level. This degree covers the intricacies and nuances of chemical reactors, thermodynamics, transport phenomena, and numerical methods and typically includes a large-scale original research project and comprehensive exams
2. COMPLETE A CHEMICAL ENGINEERING INTERNSHIP
While not all chemical engineering degree requirements include an internship or co-op component, these are excellent opportunities for gaining experience and building contacts in the field. Bachelor’s level students typically undertake these during their junior and/or senior years, while master’s and Ph.D. level students can elect to do so after their first year of studies. The American Chemical Society maintains a board of internship and fellowship opportunities.
3. CHOOSE A SPECIALTY/CONCENTRATION
Because the field of chemical engineering is so broad, numerous programs offer concentrations for students who wish to specialize their knowledge in a particular area. Students typically devote 12 to 18 credit hours to studying specific topics, with options ranging from petroleum/gas exploration or energy systems to material and polymers or biological engineering.
4. COMPLETE RELEVANT EXAMS FOR CERTIFICATION
Though other areas of engineering are more stringent about licensure and certification, chemical engineering is less formal and has only a few mandates for entering the field. For those in the industry seeking to work in respected firms, there are a number of steps they can take to be competitive. These include:
- Attend an ABET-accredited institution undertake the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination directly
- after completing a baccalaureate degree-complete the Professional Engineering (PE) exam after at least four
- years of relevant work experience
5. LAND AN ENTRY-LEVEL JOB
Finding your first job out of college can feel overwhelming, but it can be made easier by approaching it with a plan. In addition to online job boards, going in with prior internship or co-op experience goes a long way in showing prospective employers an understanding of both the theoretical and practical skills needed to do the job well. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers provides numerous helpful resources for newly graduated job seekers, ranging from bi-annual virtual career fairs to resume assistance.
CAREER TRENDS IN CHEMICAL ENGINEERING
As of mid-2014, more than 33,000 professionals were working as chemical engineers in the United States the following areas of basic chemical manufacturing; artificial synthetic fibers and filaments manufacturing; petroleum and coal products manufacturing; agricultural chemical manufacturing; and chemical product and preparation manufacturing.
The field continues to shift towards embracing technological innovations and digital solutions, calling for creative individuals well versed in not only properties of chemistry and engineering but also in leveraging technology. How to Become a Chemical Engineer
CHEMICAL ENGINEER SALARIES
Professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to be top chemical engineers are guaranteed a salary well over the national average, with much potential to grow their annual income as their careers mature. The salaries reported below represented the 50th percentile of earners, with those in the top 10 percent earning significantly more.
TOP CAREER IN CHEMICAL ENGINEERING MEDIAN SALARY
- Chemical Engineer $96,940
- Chemical Technician $44,180
- Materials Engineer $87,690