Chemical Engineers  

Chemical Engineers


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two chemical engineers conducting a chemistry experiment Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry along with physics, mathematics, and related disciplines to the production or use of chemicals and other products.  They design chemical manufacturing equipment, plan and test manufacturing methods, and supervise production.  They may also work in other industries including energy production, electronics, food, and paper manufacturing, as well as health care, biotechnology, and business services.  Some chemical engineers specialize in one specific process of chemical manufacturing, while others specialize in a particular field.

Chemical engineers must have a bachelor's degree to enter the field, but some colleges offer two and four year degree programs in engineering technology which prepare students for practical design and production work.  High school students wishing to enter an engineering program should have a strong background in science and mathematics.  Licensing is required in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for chemical engineering graduates who offer services directly to the public.  This licensing requires a degree from an accredited engineering program, four years of relevant work experience, and completion of a state examination.  The state exam has two parts; the initial Fundamentals of Engineering test, which can be taken upon graduation, and the subsequent Principles of Practice and Engineering test, which can only be taken after sufficient work experience.

In addition to a bachelor's degree and any necessary licensing, chemical engineers should be creative, inquisitive, analytical, and detail oriented.  They should also be proficient at communicating both orally and in writing.  Experienced chemical engineers may advance to become technical specialists, supervise a team of engineers and technicians, or become engineering managers.

There is expected to be a slight decline in employment prospects for chemical engineers overall, but growth is expected in professional, scientific, and technical services, especially in the areas of energy research, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.  For more information on careers for chemical engineers, visit the American Chemical Society website.

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About Chemical Engineers