While many different engineering careers take scientific principles and apply them in a practical setting, chemical engineering takes this further than most of the other disciplines.

And because the job title uses the word ‘chemical’, you might think that chemistry is all they focus on.

But chemistry is just one of the sciences that the chemical engineer pulls from in their work. At any point in time they may be using principles from chemistry (and biochemistry), biology (and microbiology) or physics.

Chemical Engineering Definition

The focus of chemical engineering is on taking raw materials and transforming them into something that’s more useful and/or more valuable, and making the process of doing this more efficient over time.

The other key role of chemical engineering is in the creation of new materials and new techniques.

Chemical Engineering Job Description

There are three key goals of chemical engineering:

1) Convert Raw Materials Into Something More Useful/Valuable

So when converting raw materials into something else, the chemical engineer needs to work out:

  • What can they transform a raw material into?
  • How are they going to perform this transformation i.e what sort of chemical processes are going to be involved and what equipment/other materials will be required?
  • How can they continually make this process more effective and cost efficient?

The kinds of materials and products that chemical engineers help to create can include anything from medicines and agricultural chemicals to fuels and plastics.

2) Create New Materials & Improve Current Materials

Chemical engineering also involves an element of innovation. New materials are constantly being explored and experimented with, and improvements are always being considered for the sort of materials products that we have right now.

The chemical engineer could be working to make a certain material stronger, more flexible, more effective, longer lasting, more heat resistant etc.

3) Create New Techniques

Often times in order to create innovation in the materials that can be produced there also needs to be innovation n the ways those materials are created and produced.

So these new techniques could be to help in the manufacturing of new materials, or to increase the efficiency in production of other materials.

Chemical Engineering Salary & Career Info

The future job growth for chemical engineering is projected to be pretty much zero over the next ten years – job numbers won’t increase, but they shouldn’t really drop either.

And while job growth is possibly going to be zero, the earnings potential for a chemical engineer is a bit higher than for many other engineering professions.

While the average across all engineering careers is around $78,000, the average chemical engineering salary is just under $85,000, and the industry employs over 30,000 people across the U.S.

So don’t let the low job growth expectations put you off.

If you have a strong interest in chemistry (and the other sciences), but a career in a purely scientific field doesn’t really interest you, than chemical engineering could be what you’re looking for.

You’ll be able to apply you knowledge of chemistry in a more practical setting and help lead the way in various innovations that can be beneficial to both the economy and society in general.


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