How to Become A Chemical Engineer
Chemical Engineer Careers & Degrees

Like every other industrial sector, the chemical industry has also undergone huge developments in the last few years.

If you are looking to become a chemical engineer, this article is for you.

Chemical Engineers are well trained to use the principles of chemistry and engineering in order to develop and manufacture various products.

The chemical engineers of today are involved with various procedures and processes that result in converting chemicals into something useful.

They also do research to come up with new materials and methodologies concerning nanotechnology, fuel cells and bioengineering, etc.

Chemical engineering includes two categories: a) designing, manufacturing, and operating plants and machinery in industrial sectors and b) developing new substances for products like foods and beauty products, etc.

Education Requirements to Become a Chemical Engineer

If you are good at chemistry in school, then you can choose to become a chemical engineer.

To become a chemical engineer, you will need to complete four year chemical engineering degree.

During your first year of college, you will be taught general engineering subjects.

But in next three years program, you will be taught specialized subjects related to your specific field.

Chemical engineering portion includes coursework and labs in chemical process, transport and reactions.

After you have finished your degree, you can also gain work experience in order to become licensed.

You must clear two exams to be licensed which are administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.

Chemical Engineer Job Description

It is largely due to the growth in science and technology in the last few decades that the chemical industry has been redefined.

When you become a chemical engineer, you will be working to develop and manufacture various products that can be used by the people in their routine life cosmetics and cleaners, etc.

Chemical engineers are well trained and have proper knowledge regarding their field.

A professional chemical engineer is primarily charged with the task of designing, developing, constructing, and operating industrial process.

They are also directly involved in the production of the commodities.

In today’s world industries that employ most of the chemical engineers are food and beverage, water treatment, energy, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas.

Nowadays some other industries like the toiletries and plastics are also employing professional chemical engineers in order to grow in competitive market.

Here are some job responsibilities of the chemical engineer.

  • Working with the control engineers as well as the chemists in order to ensure that all the requirements and specifications are met down to the last detail.
  • Assessing the options for the expansion of the plants or their reconfiguration in order to meet the exact specifications.
  • Taking care of the safety issues involved in the industry
  • Optimizing the production process to help the production increase to a large extent

The role of a chemical engineer may differ from one industry to another.

They are required to research the products right from trial to commercialization, improving product lines, designing new plants and modifying the processing plant.

A chemical engineer needs to take into account the requirement of the industry and prepare the design accordingly.

If you want to build a successful career as a chemical engineer, then you should first know how to become a chemical engineer.

Chemical Engineer Salary and Career Path

A chemical engineer is a highly revered professional and the average salary aptly complements the weight of the profession.

It is to be kept in mind that over the last few years, the demand for qualified chemical engineers has increased rapidly across industrial sectors and this has paved the way for better employment for the coming generation.

Chemical engineering is a broad field that offers many career possibilities.

Chemical engineers can work in variety of industries such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, clothing manufacturing.

When you will become a chemical engineer after your completion of degree, you will start your career under the supervision of well qualified and experienced engineer.

You will usually do this for approximately two years.

After this, you will be given more responsibilities and be able to supervise your own projects.

The 2012 median salary of chemical engineer is $94,350.

This is an area that can bring great job satisfaction as you are able to see your finished projects.

A handsome salary is available as well as stable and secure employment for those with the right qualifications.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$113,720
New Hampshire$90,590
New Jersey$126,670
New Mexico$122,140
New York$104,220
North Carolina$104,100
North Dakota- NA -
Rhode Island$88,680
South Carolina$97,450
West Virginia$96,620
Puerto Rico$77,120

The top earning state in the field is Texas, where the average salary is $150,510.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Texas - $150,510
Alaska - $144,110
New Jersey - $126,670
Delaware - $126,650
New Mexico - $122,140
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Chemical Engineers, OCC Code 17-2041, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is a chemical engineer?

Chemical engineers use the principles of chemistry, physics, and biology to solve a variety of problems.

The job responsibilities of a chemical engineer may include: researching to find new manufacturing processes, establishing safety procedures for those who work with chemicals, conducting tests, troubleshooting problems and evaluating equipment and processes to make sure they comply with regulations regarding safety.

In order to perform all those tasks, chemical engineers need analytical and math skills, as well as creativity and problem-solving skills.

QuestionHow much does a chemical engineer make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for chemical engineers was $104,910 in May 2018.

How much a chemical engineer makes depends on several factors, including their experience and field of expertise, region, and employer.

According to, those working for petroleum and coal products manufacturing companies earn a median wage of $113,380 a year while the median annual wage for engineers employed in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing field was $100,800 as of May 2018.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a chemical engineer?

Chemical engineers need a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a related field.

Bachelor’s degree programs in chemical engineering cost, on average, around $45,000 a year.

However, tuition costs vary depending on the college and program you choose.

If you want to work in research you should also seek a graduate degree.

In order to make sure that you have the best job prospects after graduation, you should enroll at a trustworthy institution accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology.

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions but you can get your Professional Engineering license after gaining a few years of experience in the field.

QuestionWhat is the demand for chemical engineers?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for chemical engineers is expected to grow 6 percent from 2018 to 2028.

The demand for chemical engineers in a specific manufacturing industry depends on how many products are needed on the market.

As the biotechnology and the medical and pharmaceutical fields expand, engineers who also have a background in biology should have better job prospects.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a chemical engineer?

Chemical engineers need a bachelor’s degree, which usually can be completed in four years.

Some colleges also offer 5-year engineering programs that lead to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

If you want a career in research you may also need a Ph.D. which can be obtained in 3-5 years.

After finishing college you can find employment as an entry-level engineer; you will continue to perfect your skills by working under the supervision of an experienced engineer.

If you want, you can also get your license as a Professional Engineer.

The licensure process can start right after finishing college when you can take an exam in the Fundamentals of Engineering and become an Engineer in Training.

After gaining around four years of experience, you can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.

Some states also require engineers to participate in continuing education classes in order to keep their license.

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