What does a chemical engineer do?

Chemical engineers employ their expertise in different areas to effectively design and change raw materials into useful final products. They design and develop manufacturing equipment and processes, plan and review production methodologies, and direct plant operations. A chemical engineering position ranges from directing large-scale manufacturing processes that transform raw materials into ordinary products to working with nanotechnology in laboratories. This role focuses on different aspects of plant designs and operations, including risk and safety assessments, process analysis and design, and product development. It also involves:

• Biological engineering

• Chemical reaction engineering

• Control engineering

• Nuclear engineering

• Operating instructions

• Modeling

• Construction specifications

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What is the average salary of a chemical engineer?

The median annual salary for chemical engineering professionals in May 2021 was $105,550, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The highest 10% earned over $187,430, and the lowest 10% earned below $62,730. Also, the average annual salaries for chemical engineering professionals in the top US industries ranged between $96,220 and $152,430. The average salary range for chemical engineers varies greatly, indicating many opportunities for increased pay and career advancement. Salaries may vary depending on different factors, including:

  • Education
  • Location
  • Years of experience
  • The sector you work in
  • The nature and size of the industry 
Chemical Engineer Jobs

Chemical Engineer Job Description

A chemical engineer designs and develops manufacturing processes for different chemicals. In this job, you should expect to research new industrial chemical and design methodologies and develop a wide range of products. Your work will involve changing the chemical, physical, and biochemical state of substances to turn them into something else, like making plastics from oil. Also, expect to estimate the production costs and draft and implement safety procedures that ensure the well-being of people working with the chemicals. 

Your work will also involve monitoring current systems and determining areas that require improvement. Working with teams of engineers, you'll create new chemical processes or enhance the existing systems to reduce waste, increase productivity, and ensure final products meet quality control standards. After developing the product designs, you'll oversee the implementation process and troubleshoot any problems that arise, making the necessary adjustments until the production runs smoothly.


What is the career outlook for a chemical engineer?

According to the BLS, chemical engineering jobs are predicted to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030. This job growth rate is as fast as the average growth in other occupations. With chemical manufacturing plants projected to offer fewer positions, there will be more employment opportunities in nanotechnology and biotechnology fields. Chemical engineers will also find more job opportunities in the scientific and technical service industries. Most of these positions will become available as many current job holders leave the profession or retire from active employment. As you gain more industry experience, you'll get better opportunities to advance your chemical engineering career. You can progress to positions such as: 

  • Design engineer
  • Senior process engineer
  • Research & development manager
  • Plant manager
  • Operations manager

What are the advantages of working with Spherion as a chemical engineer? 

If you're searching for a chemical engineering position, Spherion.com can help. Due to its status and position among the top staffing firms in the United States, Spherion can easily connect you with different businesses in various sectors. Here are some of the incredible benefits you will enjoy when working with Spherion.com:

  • Access to training opportunities to hone your skills
  • Quick interviewing process
  • Temporary and permanent job contracts
  • Flexible working options
  • Access to a wide range of positions within your geographical location
  • Weekly payment possibilities
  • Access to trendy jobs in your area
  • A contact person to assist you during your job search

What education do you need as a chemical engineer?

Entry-level chemical engineers need at least a chemical engineering degree or a degree in a relevant field. They should also pass the FE or Fundamentals of Engineering exam and obtain their Professional Engineering or PE License after four years of employment. Employers prefer experienced candidates with PE licenses for those with more complex responsibilities or higher-level positions. However, those in research or managerial roles need a master's degree. Entry-level chemical engineer applicants with internship experience can qualify for roles with less complex responsibilities. Still, they'll need to undergo on-the-job training under the supervision of senior chemical engineers. However, applicants will require years of professional experience and a PE license for roles with research tasks, leadership opportunities, and complex responsibilities. 

Skills & competencies 

Apart from professional qualifications, you require chemical engineering accreditations to appeal more to the top employers. Some of the popular certifications include, Licensed Professional Engineer (LPE), Certified Chemical Engineer (CCE) and the Safety and Chemical Engineering (SAChE). To get an LPE certification, you need a recognized engineering degree, at least four years of experience, and take two exams. CCE accreditation is suitable for people with a degree in chemical engineering or chemistry and professional experience. SAChE accreditation is mainly for chemical engineers working on continuing education or current college students taking chemical engineering courses. Chemical engineers must also have transferable soft skills and technical skills to make quality products in the most responsible ways and at competitive prices. These skills include:

  • Good analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to employ chemical principles 
  • Excellent math abilities
  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to work with teams
  • Strong IT skills
  • Excellent leadership skills
  • Great attention to detail
  • Project management skills
  • Creative-thinking and innovative skills


Chemical engineering refers to a multidisciplinary and innovative engineering branch that spans a wide range of industries, job roles, and processes. Chemical engineers design and develop most of the products we use daily – from laundry detergents to food additives. If you are considering pursuing a chemical engineering career, the following frequently asked questions will help you understand more about this job description. 

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