Chemical Engineering Jobs

Chemical engineering combines physical science with life sciences such as biology and biochemistry in order to convert raw materials into products for consumer use. It mainly involves designing, maintaining and improving processes involving chemical transformations. Chemical engineering produces products we use every day, as well as creating new technologies, such as fuel cells and nanotechnology.

Chemical engineering involves several key concepts: plant design, process design and transport phenomena. Plant design is concerned with creating plans based on plant specifications and client needs. A plant's materials and equipment is limited by governmental regulations, safety standards and funding. Process design is determined by unit operations, which are steps in the chemical engineering process. These include drying, evaporating and crystallization. Unit processes, such as oxidation and nitration, are also involved in process design. Transport phenomena, which include heat and mass transfer and fluid dynamics, happen often in the industry. A very strong background in math is needed to understand these challenges.

Chemical engineering is different from basic chemistry in that chemical engineers find ways to use energy and materials economically. Chemists, on the other hand, are more interested in creating products from the basic composition of materials. Although both use chemistry, chemical engineers also apply chemistry principles to create plastics and medicine. They may also work in waste management.

There have been many new trends emerging from chemical engineering research. These include nanomaterials, organic synthesis, biosynthesis and quantum biochemistry. Also the future of plastics will likely change in the near future. Research and testing has created new plastic compounds filled with glass and minerals. Other changes in the design of plastics include injection monitoring, carbon nanotubes, microcellular extension and mould design. There is also the possibility of using high-performance additives in plastics to extend the polymer properties and prolong the life of many products. Other possible future technologies include plastic electronics (flexible, high-tech devices that can be rolled up and stored compactly) and environmentally clean lasers for marking dates and product codes.

Many chemical engineers focus on a field or process within chemical engineering, such as nanomaterials, oxidation or polymers. They may also specialize in the development of certain products. They must have a thorough understanding of the chemical manufacturing process, and how this process affects consumers and the environment. Safety is of the utmost priority.

Although chemical companies will hire chemical engineers to create new chemicals and make current processes more efficient, the chemical engineering industry is expected to decline overall in the next decade. However, those specializing in energy research and emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and biotechnology will be in high demand and therefore have plentiful employment opportunities.

Despite the uncertain employment future for the chemical engineering field, chemical engineers are one of t he highest-paid engineers overall. Chemical engineer salaries increase rapidly with experience. Although a chemical engineer fresh out of college may start out around $55,000 to $60,000, this number can double with 20 years of experience, with salaries exceeding $120,000. Even those with 10 years of experience can expect six-figure salaries. Also, chemical engineering has high potential for advancement to management positions. In fact, former chemical engineers have occupied CEO positions with many large companies, such as 3M, General Electric, Exxon and Texaco.

Chemical engineering is a diverse industry. Chemical engineers can work on and create various new types of technology. They have the ability to help advance many types of science-related fields, including medical research, technology and environmental science. They have a variety of duties. Some work in the medical field searching for cures for diseases, while others defend our country or help improve the lives of others. A career in chemical engineering is very challenging. You will need to be able to work well with others and apply your analytical and problem-solving skills to the creation of new technologies and processes. Whatever aspect of chemical engineering you decide to focus on, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you are using your skills and knowledge to help advance society toward a better life.

Chemical Engineer Salary

Last Updated: 06/08/2014

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