Chemical Engineering Career Overview
Chemical engineers apply both, the knowledge of chemistry and, the principles of engineering to the chemical industry and thus form the bridge or the link between science and manufacturing. They are involved in a wide variety of activities like equipment design, process developing for chemical manufacture on a large scale, planning and testing ways of producing and the treatment of byproducts as well as supervision of manufacturing activities. They are employed in not only chemical but also other manufacturing concerns like in the field of electronics, photography, clothing and pulp & paper products. Medicine & healthcare, biotechnology as well as the business industry also holds employment opportunities for chemical engineers.
Chemical engineers use the knowledge of chemistry, physics mathematics, and mechanical and electrical engineering and as such their activities and duties overlap other fields. Chemical engineers can usually specialize in one process like oxidation or polymerization or in a field like material science. They can even learn to develop specific products like pesticides and fertilizers, automotive plastics, chlorine bleaches etc. Chemical engineers need to know about the full scope of manufacturing chemicals and their effect on our environment, as well as the safety of workers and buyers. Due to the advent of information technology and its use in efficient research and production activities, chemical engineers are required to understand and apply computer knowledge to analyze chemical processes, to automate control systems and to provide statistical control of quality.
In 2002, Chemical engineers were employed in 33,000 different jobs in various industries. Around 55 percent of all chemical engineering professionals were employed by the manufacturing industry, chiefly in the chemical, petroleum refining, paper and other industries. The rest worked in R&D and other fields for professional (scientific or technical ) services who were involved indirectly with chemical companies.
Job and Employment Opportunities for Chemical Engineers
It is projected that the period through 2012 will be a slow moving time for chemical engineers. But although the total employment in chemical manufacturing concerns is likely to decrease, R&D activities as well as developing more efficient output from existing chemical processes are expected to be carried on by chemical companies. In the manufacturing sector, pharmaceuticals are likely to have the best growth opportunities for employees. Most of the chemical engineers, however, will be employed in the non-manufacturing industry, primarily, the research and testing services industry. Though no new job opportunities are expected to grow out of these sectors, openings will be available due to retirements and transfers of current employees.
Historical Earnings Information
In 2002, the median earnings of a chemical engineers was $72,490, annually. The middle 50 percent received salaries between $58,320 and $88,830 a year while the lowest 10 percent received salaries less than $48,450. The highest 10 percent received salaries of $107,520 and above.
In a 2003 salary survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a chemical engineer with a bachelor’s degree got salaries worth $52,384 on an average in a year, while those with a master’s degree received salaries worth $57,857 a year. The Ph.D. candidates made up to $70,729 on an average.
Seasoned engineers may earn even more.
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