Career Education - Learn about all careers, career pay salary, job outlook

What Chemical Engineers Do

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, biology, and physics to solve problems involving the production or use of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and many other products. They design processes and equipment for large-scale manufacturing, plan and test methods of manufacturing products and treating byproducts, and supervise production.


Chemical engineers typically do the following:

Chemical engineers apply principles of physics, biology, mathematics, mechanical and electrical engineering, and chemistry. Some specialize in a particular process, such as oxidation (burning chemicals to make other chemicals) or polymerization (making plastics). Others specialize in a particular field, such as nanomaterials (making extremely small substances), or in developing specific products.

Chemical engineers also work in a variety of industries other than chemical manufacturing. They work in producing energy, electronics, food, clothing, and paper. They work in health care, biotechnology, and business services.

Chemical engineers must be aware of all aspects in the manufacturing of chemicals, drugs, or other products. They must also understand how the manufacturing process affects the environment and the safety of workers and consumers.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition