Process engineers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more
Some chemical engineers, known as process engineers, specialize in a particular process, such as oxidation (a reaction of oxygen with chemicals to make other chemicals) or polymerization (making plastics and resins).
Others specialize in a particular field, such as nanomaterials (extremely small substances) or biological engineering. Still others specialize in developing specific products.
In addition, chemical engineers work in the production of energy, electronics, food, clothing, and paper. They must understand how the manufacturing process affects the environment and the safety of workers and consumers.
Chemical engineers also conduct research in the life sciences, biotechnology, and business services.
- Education Required
- Chemical engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a related field. Programs in chemical engineering usually take 4 years to complete and include classroom, laboratory, and field studies. High school students interested in studying chemical engineering will benefit from taking science courses, such as chemistry, physics, and biology. They also should take math courses, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.
- Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 8% (As fast as average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
- Entry-level engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In large companies, new engineers also may receive formal training in classrooms or seminars. As junior engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move to more difficult projects with greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.
- Licensure for chemical engineers is not as common as it is for other engineering occupations, nor is it required for entry-level positions. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires
- Median pay: How much do Chemical Engineers make?
- $98,340 Annual Salary
- $47.28 per hour
Careers for Chemical Engineers
- Absorption and adsorption engineers
- Chemical process engineers
- Chemical research engineers
- Fuels engineers
- Oxidation engineers
- Plastics engineers
- Polymerization engineers
- Refinery process engineers