Major in Chemical Engineering - An Overview

Chemical Engineers change simple raw materials by altering the chemical, biochemical or physical state of a substance into useful things used by millions of people. These engineers are employed across a wide variety of sectors including pharmaceuticals, energy, water, food and drink, materials, oil and gas, biotechnology and consultancy.

Chemical engineering is the study and practice of transforming substances at large scales for the tangible improvement of the human condition. It basically is applied chemistry. Chemical engineering is a field of study that applies the physical sciences and life sciences together with mathematics and economics. It is an  engineering discipline influencing numerous areas of technology. Hence, chemical engineers are responsible for the creation and design of processes for the purpose of production, transformation and transportation of materials.

The large number of industries which depend on the synthesis and processing of chemicals and materials place the chemical engineer in great demand. To be a part of this demand,as an aspiring  chemical engineer you require a complete and quantitative understanding of both the engineering and scientific principles underlying these technological processes. This essential prerequisite can only be achieved by right mix of education and planning well ahead of your college admission.

Chemical engineering is a career that is innovative, fulfilling and the work is critical to the functioning of the economy all you need is right preparation and guidance right from high school. We at USAeducation.info have prepared a section on guidance required to choose majors from high school, college prep to take up career as Chemical Engineer. Take a look at all our articles on Chemical Engineering Major prep guide.

Who should opt for Chemical Engineering?

Students who are proficient in chemistry and math should consider it. The chemical engineering also needs students who possess good computer skills.  The cognitive operations in chemical engineering plants have increasingly become automated. This is known as process control, wherein computers are programmed to run the plant and have become an integral part of the industry. Modern chemical engineering involves extensive use of computers for process simulation and design, for product characterization and for process control. So students who like math and chemistry and physics as well as computer science would do well to major in chemical engineering.

When you embark on a career in Chemical Engineering, you can expect:

  • Excellent Career Opportunities

    It opens up career opportunities across the industry, such as within energy, manufacturing, oil & gas, food & drink, pharmaceuticals, bio- & tissue engineering, but also within commerce and finance, as chemical engineering graduates have analytical and problem-solving skills.

    Major industries in which chemical engineers can work:

    Pharmaceutical Industry: Chemical Engineers work on the large scale manufacture of drugs; the new materials industry, where they develop new products such as a shampoo that leaves your hair cleaner and shinier; athletic clothing that absorbs sweat; or a carbon airplane that is lighter and greener than its predecessors.

    Energy Industry: Chemical engineers develop alternative fuels, solar power, bio- fuels, etc.

  • Diverse Job Roles

    • Research & Development Engineers: The R&D engineers are creative and innovative. They develop the ideas for future plants, improving efficiency, environmental performances and new products.
    • Project Engineer: Project Engineers organize and run projects for engineering companies.
    • Design Engineer: The Design Engineer is responsible for finding out how the process is to work.
    • Operation Engineer: Operations Engineers work "on site." This means they spend their time ensuring that the plant is producing the right quantity of product to the correct specification.
    • Chemical Engineer: A chemical engineer is involved in the design, development, construction and operation of industrial processes for the production of a diverse range of products.
    • Energy Engineer: An energy engineer is involved with the production of energy through natural resources, such as the extraction of oil and gas, as well as from renewable or sustainable sources of energy.
    • Product/Process development Scientist: Process development scientists aim to optimize the performance of manufacturing systems. Product development scientists work with research scientists to develop new ideas and scientific discoveries, which can be used in the manufacture of new products. Product and process development scientists are concerned with improving the efficiency and profitability of the manufactured product.
    • Job Outlook: Employment of chemical engineers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022 as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment growth will be sustained by the ability of chemical engineers to stay on the forefront of new, emerging technologies. Moreover, chemical engineering is expanding and migrating into new fields, such as nanotechnology, alternative energies, and biotechnology, which will serve to support the demand for engineering services in many manufacturing industries.
    • Competitive salary and Benefits: According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012), the chemical engineers have reported an average annual salary of $94,350. Chemical engineering is one of the highest paying degrees for entry level jobs, with even higher wage scales for experienced chemical engineers. The earning potential of chemical engineers is similar to doctors, lawyers and accountants
Chemical Engineering is cited as the third highest paid profession for a new graduate. Despite a difficult economic climate, Chemical Engineers are in exceptionally high demand.
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