Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and math to solve problems that involve the production or use of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and many other products. They design processes and equipment for large-scale manufacturing, plan and test production methods and byproducts treatment, and direct facility operations.
Chemical engineers work mostly in offices or laboratories. They may spend time at industrial plants, refineries, and other locations, where they monitor or direct operations or solve onsite problems. Nearly all chemical engineers work full time.
How to Become a Chemical Engineer
Chemical engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Employers also value practical experience. Therefore, internships and cooperative engineering programs can be helpful.
Employment of chemical engineers is projected to grow 2 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. Demand for chemical engineers’ services depends largely on demand for the products of various manufacturing industries.
This occupation supported 33,300 jobs in 2012 and 34,300 jobs in 2014, reflecting an increase of 3.0%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 4.5% in 2022 to 34,800 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 33,500, compared with an observed value of 34,300, 2.4% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are better than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 1.8% in 2024 to 34,900 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 35,000 jobs for 2024, 0.3% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are about on track with the 2012 trend within this occupation.