Top 10 "Must Have" Skills for Chemical Engineers

Top 10 "Must Have" Skills for Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineering is much more than the simply knowledge acquired from college. Employers look deeper than good grades during the hiring process. The gap between the engineering school and the industry is wide and needs bridging as much as possible. Most college graduates-especially in the engineering field, come out as “half-baked” individuals. They are not ready for the real world of chemical engineering.

No employer wants a half-baked employee who’s more of a liability, than an asset. Extensive training will be commonly administered for all new employees to ensure they are fully aware of what is expected of them.

After that, it’s really up to the chemical engineers to prove their worth to their employers. To secure the job, a certain element of “all-rounded” capabilities will be necessary to help showcase competencies.

Here are the top 10 skills skills chemical engineers should have:

1. Negotiation Skills


Negotiation is the primary way in which business people settle their differences - in the case of chemical engineering - settling financial contracts. In the engineering industry, having excellent negotiation skills is important to ensure a balance of both good working relationships and profit maximization.

2. Problem Solving Skills


Chemical engineers are basically problem solvers. The wisdom gained from schooling is designed to help prepare you for the unexpected daily problems in the industry. For example; if there was a newly found design flaw in a sugar plant evaporator, everyone will look to you for the answer. You need to possess the right amount of technical blueprint knowledge to solve all the problems associated with not only this piece of equipment, but your entire area of specialization, at all times. 

3. Communication Skills


You may have graduated top of your chemical engineering class, but poor communication skills will hinder any form of progress once out in the field. Since engineers are often departmental heads in the organizations they work for, they have no choice but to perfect their own communication skills as chemical engineers often work in teams to achieve goals and design solutions on the spot

4. Commercial Awareness


Due to a wide gap between the industry itself, and the university course content, freshly graduated engineering hopefuls actually have very little experience in the active commercial world which includes avenues such as sales, logistics and numerous marketing departments. This is however noted; to accommodate the gap, the initially the new recruits are only concerned with using their theoretical knowledge together with practical hands on work. 

5. Presentation Skills


The typical “day in the office” for a chemical engineer involves attending meetings and presenting information regarding the issues related to chemical engineering. It goes without saying that of course you will need to be competent to present to large audiences.

6. Computer Skills


Chemical engineers work with computers day in day out, making use of programs such as AutoCAD while preparing slides for presentations – otherwise using power point and Word - amongst other commonly found programs. Computer and technical skills will need to be relatively savvy.

7. Analytical Skills


An engineer needs to be as analytical as possible. There is no room for mediocrity and complacency. One of your employer’s major core departments could be your complete responsibility. Failure to be design pedantic can and will lead to contract termination. 

8. Management Skills


As managers, they also have key responsibilities which ensure all hands on works are completed accurately and to a high standard. Similar duties such as delegating tasks and motivating other employees to complete a newly created design; is just some of the other commonly found daily responsibilities. 

9. Adaptability and Flexibility


It is extremely difficult to predict what tomorrow duties will consist of, when employed as chemical engineer. Being open-minded and adaptable is absolutely necessary. The nature of the work does not allow for any shape or form of tunnel vision.

10. Time Management Skills


Managing your own time as well that of your team will of course affect project completion and overall progress.  Failure to adopt a proficient time management structure can result in negative consequences such as not meeting a client’s set date for contract completion… time waits for no chemical engineer!

To be employable it takes more than just dedication and determination, you need to be an all-round quick thinker and be able to integrate technical knowledge with planning, at the drop of a hat.  

All images Courtesy of Photopin