Chemical Engineers are an essential part of society. Although not a well-known profession, without them we would not have many of the necessities that we rely on every day. Reports suggest that this career will be in high demand for the foreseeable future. Hopefully this article will serve as a useful guide for anyone interested in chemical engineering.
What do chemical engineers do?
On a very basic level chemical engineers design the machines and processes that are used to created medicines, plastics and pretty much everything else we use in the modern world. But it is much more complicated than that of course. They design machines and processes to turn raw materials into food, as well as the refinement of gas, oil, various minerals and other raw materials. They are also heavily involved with research and development. Typical activities for a chemical engineer may include:
- Testing new ways to create products in the lab
- Create computer simulations to work out safest and most cost effective designs
- Create Plans to move from testing to construction stage safely and effectively
- Develop plans to safely deal with the by-products of the manufacturing process
- Oversee the construction, implementation and day to day operation of the equipment
- Deal with any problems or faults that occur in the machinery
- Make sure that the equipment runs safely and the products are up to standard
Chemical Engineering is a very specialised and vital field. Due to this they receive generous financial compensation from their employers. Whatever company you work for you will receive a good wage, but obviously the larger the company the better the pay will be. It is one of the few careers that gives entry level workers an extremely generous salary right from the beginning.
Senior chartered chemical engineer
Ultimately your wage is dependent upon your geographical location and what company you work for. But no matter where you are and what company you work more the pay will be generous. As well as this companies tend to hire graduates unlike many careers.
What qualifications do you need?
Although it is quite a specialised field there are multiple routes to becoming a chemical engineer. First of all it is extremely important that you be very good at maths and chemistry. Unless you are talented at these subjects you will not make it through the course. You probably won’t even make it onto the course. Overall though, the basic requirement for the career is a degree in Engineering or chemistry. The preferred degree is a (BEng) in chemical, process or biochemical engineering accredited by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE).
A great aspect of these courses is the work placements. It gives students the opportunity to impress potential employers. If you can show that you are a talented and capable student and able to learn on the job, it is likely that you will manage to secure a position upon graduation.
Chemical engineering offers amazing prospects for career development. The training within university is extremely vocational and you will get work placements with companies to put theory into practice. Many employers provide sponsored graduate schemes for candidates to achieve Masters in Engineering (MEeng) while working towards chartered engineer status.
Once you are working you will be learning on the job working towards achieving incorporated and ultimately chartered status. Incorporated engineers work is more practical in nature whereas chartered engineers are usually in leadership roles and have more intellectual duties. An MEng in chemical engineering is required to achieve chartered status whereas it is not for incorporated status. This could be achieved with 5 years of work experience and completion of a Masters in Chemical Engineering MEng. There are also significant possibilities for international travel either for the company you are working for, or applying to work for a different company in another country. Chemical engineers are always in demand.
As can be seen it is a career that offers great opportunities. It is a vital part of modern society and it pays a huge amount of money. But it is not for everyone and unless you are talented at maths and science it is not the career path for you. However, if you feel that you have the right attributes then why not try it.