A career in a scientific discipline offers many benefits and opportunities to help others through research and discovery. One such discipline is chemical engineering, which involves the use of chemicals to create and manufacture products. Exploring some of the more common reasons and motivations for working in the chemical engineering field can help you determine whether pursuing this path will suit your career goals. In this article, we discuss eight reasons to become a chemical engineer and six of the job opportunities available in this field.
What is chemical engineering?
Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that focuses on the conversion of raw materials into useful products. Chemical engineers oversee and develop the processes required to achieve this conversion process. Other responsibilities in this field may include designing systems and equipment that can refine raw materials and mix, process and compound chemicals. Many chemical engineering professionals work in chemical plants and laboratories where they can safely handle chemicals and other potentially hazardous materials.
Chemical engineers work across a range of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, food processing, electronics, biotechnology, petrochemicals, construction, design and environmental health and safety. They take part in the introduction of new medications, cleaning products, food products, chemicals used in agricultural settings and many other products.
8 reasons to become a chemical engineer
Working in the chemical engineering field may offer various opportunities for personal or professional fulfillment and success. Consider some of these common reasons to become a chemical engineer:
1. Develop everyday products
Chemical engineers and the people who support their work develop and create products that can impact everyday life. Products that chemical engineers contribute their expertise to include pharmaceuticals that treat or manage diseases and ailments, food, fuel and textiles. Some chemical engineers, such as those who work in water sanitation, work with precious natural resources and ensure they are safe for use.
2. Practice useful soft skills
When studying or working in the chemical engineering field, individuals can develop many skills that may benefit them throughout their professional lives. Some of the soft skills you may develop while working in an engineering role include thinking logically, creative problem-solving and communicating with others. Chemical engineers can attain additional skills while working as part of a team, such as adaptability and empathy.
3. Enjoy extensive job opportunities
Chemical engineering is a fast-growing industry with many job opportunities. According to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for chemical engineers is likely to increase by 9% between 2020 and 2030. This translates to the addition of more than 2,000 new jobs. Individuals who study chemical engineering may also qualify for numerous other related career opportunities, each of which has its own estimated growth rate and outlook.
4. Help others on a global scale
Even if you work in a laboratory, as a chemical engineer you can play an active role in improving the living conditions for people located all over the world. Chemical engineers have developed sustainable fuel sources, methods for providing clean water, medications that limit the severity of illnesses, and processes that allow for more abundant growth of food. The results of your efforts may have implications for thousands of people or future generations.
5. Use technology every day
Chemical engineering involves the use of technology every day at work. Engineers might use specialized software programs or equipment to create models, analyze data, assess situations and make changes to their plans. When working in this field, it’s important to stay current with technological advancements and apply them in your tasks.
6. Acquire extensive knowledge
Studying chemical engineering exposes you to a wealth of knowledge across many important topics. The coursework in chemical engineering programs often includes chemistry, physics, material science and biochemistry classes, among many other possibilities. Students might also study economics, the environment, safety and management, depending on their area of focus.
7. Work Internationally
Many chemical engineering organizations and companies operate internationally. People who want to travel the world and experience life in other countries can often find job opportunities in this field outside of the U.S. If there is a particular country you want to work in, you can also look for work there as a chemical engineer with a local company.
8. Attain financial security
Working in chemical engineering often affords financial security to those who pursue this career path. The average salary for a chemical engineer is $81,571 per year. Working for a major corporation in the industry offers the potential for higher earnings and more growth. Positions that require extensive travel or relocation abroad may also offer additional benefits, such as housing allowances or stipends for expenses.
6 jobs in the chemical engineering industry
Studying chemical engineering offers a range of job opportunities you can pursue. For the most up-to-date Indeed and BLS salaries, please click on the links below. Some job options include:
1. Food scientist
National average salary: $42,653 per year
Primary duties: Food scientists study the basic elements of food. They apply the principles of chemistry and biology to analyze a food’s nutritional content and discover new sources of food. They also identify processing methods that maintain the health and safety of food.
2. Energy manager
National average salary: $76,184 per year
Primary duties: An energy manager is responsible for analyzing the energy use of an organization or structure. They implement plans to improve efficiency and reduce energy costs, ensuring that these plans fulfill deadline, budget and legal requirements. Energy managers also apply conservation measures to lessen energy waste.
3. Energy engineer
National average salary: $77,472 per year
Primary duties: An energy engineer is responsible for overseeing the development of energy distribution and conversion systems. They may work on energy storage solutions and manage the efficiency of energy usage in processing, manufacturing and building systems. The role also involves identifying strategies to optimize energy consumption.
4. Quality manager
National average salary: $86,137 per year
Primary duties: A quality manager supervises a production or manufacturing process to ensure that all products meet the standards of quality established by the organization. Their main duties include developing and implementing quality control testing methods and documenting issues with production. Quality managers may also inspect products at various production stages.
5. Nuclear engineer
National average salary: $86,619 per year
Primary duties: Nuclear engineers develop and test the systems, processes and instruments used to cause and regulate nuclear reactions and to obtain benefits from nuclear radiation and energy. They might identify uses for radioactive materials, such as in medical diagnosis and treatment. A nuclear engineer may also play a role in designing, operating and maintaining a nuclear power plant.
6. Petroleum engineer
National average salary: $86,980 per year
Primary duties: A petroleum engineer is responsible for locating oil and gas to accommodate an organization’s need for these resources. They develop and design methods for oil and gas extraction and improve upon existing extraction methods. They may also supervise and monitor existing reservoirs of crude oil and natural gas.
I hope you find this article helpful.