Chemical engineering jobs
Many professional fields rely on chemical engineering skills, knowledge and expertise, from environmental and energy to medical, gastronomical and technological. Indeed, chemical engineering is essential to pretty much every area of human activity – as a graduate in this subject, you can choose to apply your knowledge within an impressive variety of sectors.
Some popular chemical engineering jobs and sectors include alternative energy, biomedical, biotechnology, chemical products (such as fine chemicals and specialty chemicals), chemical manufacture, civil engineering, consumer goods, cosmetics, design engineering, electronics, environment, food and drink, fertilizers, fuel and energy, health care, materials, mining and minerals, nuclear energy, oil and gas, paper manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, plastics and polymers, process safety, sustainable engineering, textiles, toiletries, water and waste management.
Many chemical engineering jobs are in roles such as consultancy, research and development, field engineering, and design and manufacturing. Other chemical engineering graduates choose to apply their skills in a less closely related area, pursuing careers in business management, finance, law, medicine, the armed forces, environment and conservation, academia and teaching. However, many do choose to continue as professional chemical engineers…
What do chemical engineers do?
A chemical engineer or process engineer is involved in the research, design, development, construction, modification and operation of industrial processes and machinery that are used to produce a diverse range of items. Depending on your specific role, you might be researching and developing new products from trial to commercialization, managing processes from testing in a small plant to full industrial-scale manufacturing, developing improvements to product lines, modifying processing plants, and designing and commissioning new plants. After a specific period of work in this sector, you can apply to gain official Chartered status, or the equivalent in your country – a mark of professional competence.
While the specific activities will depend on the role and sector in which you work, most chemical engineering jobs likely require working closely with a team of chemical engineering technicians and engineers. They will use their chemical engineering skills to apply new technologies and approaches, ensure maximum efficiency and profitability, wear protective clothing and equipment while in the lab/product plant, develop methods for dealing with by-products and waste materials safely, and ensure potential safety issues are considered at all stages. Depending on your role, you might be working solely in the lab, office or processing plant, or divide your time between the three. Candidates with an aptitude for leadership may also move up to become plant managers or company executives.
Some chemical engineering jobs include:
A food processing engineer works in the development of food products, combining science, engineering, chemistry and microbiology. You’ll use the latest products and technologies to design techniques for food creation, processing, preservation, packaging, distribution and improvement. You’ll use your understanding of heat transfer and fluid flow principles during your work, and also use simulation tools to aid designing and troubleshooting process optimization. You’ll likely work as part of a larger team of engineers and scientists, and you may be employed by food manufacturers or work alongside experts from the agricultural and food processing industries. You may be responsible for all or part of food production, perhaps specializing in food additives, food safety, nutrition, packaging, preparation methods/ingredients, or research of chemicals found within food.
Many chemical engineering graduates work as a consultant in the pharmaceutical industry. If you’re from a medical background, you’ll likely be involved in the promotion and retail of pharmaceutical products. As a pharmaceutical consultant from a chemical engineering background, you’ll instead concentrate on the production of pharmaceuticals, using biochemical engineering and addressing issues such adhering to regulations, and being aware of the commercial constraints within the pharmaceutical industry. You’ll likely work on a range of projects, from addressing consultancy questions for other clients to designing, commission and validating large pharmaceutical production and production facilities. You’ll also likely work in a multi-disciplinary team, and on pharmaceutical projects based on other technologies.
Chemical engineering within wastewater management involves designing and developing the wide range of physical, chemical and biological unit operations needed to remove contaminants from water and wastewater. You’ll likely be part of a team working on new works construction, improvements, maintenance, managing and operating the treatment plant and distribution networks. You’ll need to keep in mind health, safety and hygiene, how to minimize waste streams from treatment processes, economic and environmental concerns, and keep up with new technologies and new legislation.
Energy process engineer
Many chemical engineering graduates become process engineers when they graduate. This is essentially the application of chemical engineering principles to the optimization, design, operation and control of chemical processes. An energy process engineer uses his/her knowledge to pinpoint opportunities to save energy, propose solutions for more energy-efficient operation, and aid in the design, manufacture and operation of energy infrastructure. You’ll need to understand energy supply and demand requirements, engineering economics, the implications of the usage of different types of energy and energy minimization. You’ll use a range of technologies and equipment to produce, transfer, distribute, convert and utilize energy and gain a thorough understanding of renewable and alternative energy systems.
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