Chemical engineers apply principles of math and science in conducting research on the results of combining various chemicals. Many chemical engineers work in research labs and manufacturing plants that develop chemical-based consumer or business products. You can work in a cosmetics facility as a chemical engineer, as new cosmetic products are the result of blending different chemical products.
A bachelor's in chemical engineering is a common education requirement for someone who wants to become a cosmetics chemist. Some large universities have even developed cosmetic engineering majors or specialists within their engineering departments. During and after school, gaining hands-on internship or field experience in a chemical engineering lab helps prepare you for a full-time career in this particular field. A master's degree gives you broader career options and possible promotion to senior positions. Team orientation and communication are necessary skills, along with engineering abilities, because your work is part of a broader business platform.
In general, chemical engineers spend much of the day mixing chemical ingredients to test the reactions when two or more elements are combined. Within the cosmetics industry, this testing is intended to see whether combining chemical ingredients produces tangible, useful and safe products, such as perfumes, colognes and makeup. Chemical engineers usually work closely with market researchers and company planners to ensure research aligns with overall company goals and strategies.
Relative to other careers, projected growth across chemical engineering lags. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that chemical engineer jobs will grow by just 6 percent from 2010 to 2020, compared to 14 percent growth across all careers. However, the Manhattan College website notes a key motive for its development of a cosmetic engineering program was stability and constant change in the cosmetics industry, which makes this specialty more appealing.
Getting a Job
Just acquiring the right combination of education and skills doesn't guarantee a position in a cosmetics company. You have to know the right steps to get your foot in the door. You can read trade journals and research online to find a list of potential cosmetic company employers. Finding the company that best suits your skills and values is important, for instance some companies specialize in organic or natural products if that is an important factor for you. Job titles for cosmetics chemists include formulator, quality control chemist and process engineer. You can even get into sales if you have abilities in both engineering and sales.