Best Jobs for Chemical Engineering Graduates
If you have a chemical engineering degree, count yourself lucky: you have many career options available to you. So many, in fact, it can be hard to know which to pick! Chemical engineering graduates are needed in a wide variety of industries, from oil and gas to food processing to pharmaceuticals. This list goes through some of your options, including what you can do and how much you can earn. Salaries are accurate as of February 2021.
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1. Mining Engineer
Although many people think that mining engineering is only for geological engineers, there are actually plenty of opportunities for chemical engineers in the industry too. The expertise that chemical engineering graduates have is needed to manage and optimize processes, equipment, and product quality, such as when raw ore is broken into smaller pieces during the milling process. Mining engineers usually go into mines a lot instead of staying in the office, so as a mining engineer, you might even go underground! Certainly not for those with claustrophobia.
Mining engineers in the United States earn an average of $91,160 per year, with a projected job growth rate of 4%.
2. Food Engineer
Soda, canned tuna, potato chips, and frozen pizza - what do they all have in common? Food engineers had some role in producing them! Because of their training in chemistry and processing, chemical engineering graduates fit right into this exciting field.
Food engineers work to process, produce, store, and distribute foods that you eat every day. They may work to design a food production line so that more food can be produced at a lower cost. They may help to refine the production process so that a food’s taste or texture changes. And sometimes they are tasked with making sure that food is properly packaged and that food quality is up to par. So, yes, there is a lot that a food engineer may be responsible for! Many food engineers use knowledge taken directly from chemical engineering curriculum to do their work, making chemical engineering graduates ideal candidates for this role.
In the United States, food engineers earn an average of $98,824 per year.
3. Petroleum Engineer
There are many roles where a chemical engineering graduate could fit in as a petroleum engineer at an oil and gas company, including production engineer, reservoir engineer, or project engineer. Many chemical engineering students receive training that would prepare them specifically for many aspects of these roles. Production engineers are responsible for optimizing oil and gas production so that the most profit can be earned while cutting operations and maintenance costs. Reservoir engineers evaluate oil and gas reservoirs to determine their financial viability. Setting up and designing projects that help produce or refine oil and gas, including pipelines, tanks, and other pressure vessels, is taken care of by project engineers.
In the United States, petroleum engineers make a whopping $137,720 per year on average. Job growth is expected to be 3% from 2019 to 2029.
4. Pharmaceutical Engineer
With a growing, aging population and new ailments always popping up, the pharmaceutical industry is never short of work. As a pharmaceutical engineer, you might be tasked with conceiving pharmaceuticals, designing or scaling up production processes, or manufacturing, labelling, and packing pharmaceuticals. This career path is best suited to those who are especially interested in biochemistry, manufacturing, and research and development. There is a lot of opportunity for a chemical engineering graduate to become a pharmaceutical engineer!
In the United States, the average pharmaceutical engineer earns $81,734 per year, and job growth is projected to be 8% from 2018 to 2028, with 23,800 job opportunities being created in that time.
5. Consulting Engineer
Many organizations have engineering problems, and often they don’t have the knowledge in-house to take care of them. That’s where consulting engineers come in. Consulting engineers work in all kinds of industries, but as a chemical engineering graduate you are more likely to work with a consulting engineering company that specializes in projects related to - surprise, surprise - chemical engineering, such as oil and gas or mining.
As a consulting engineer, you will be responsible for providing solutions for technical problems and, in some cases, to meet regulatory requirements. You might be designing, supervising, or inspecting engineering work, providing technical assistance, or completing environmental impact studies. Consulting engineering will appeal to those who want to solve technical problems while having some variety in their work. Consulting engineers in the United States earn an average of $93,532 per year.
This career is expected to grow 4% between 2018 and 2028 and produce 12,800 job opportunities across the United States.
6. Process Engineer
Process engineers are responsible for maximizing output and minimizing waste in a process. Since chemical engineering graduates are trained to do this, process engineering roles are perfect for them.
A process engineer looks at a process to see where there are inefficiencies that can be fixed. Doubling back in a process or waste that is not recycled back into a process are examples of inefficiencies. A process engineer would redesign the process or change its parameters to make the process as efficient and cost-effective as possible. This could mean changing equipment, switching up the order of the process, or even completely redesigning the process.
Process engineers in the United States earn an average of $108,770 per year, and have an expected job growth of 4% between 2019 and 2029.
7. Water Treatment Engineer
Water is one of the planet’s most important resources. Besides being used for drinking, water is used in agriculture, manufacturing, and thousands of other industries. As such, it needs to be protected and managed now so that it can be enjoyed by future generations. Water that people use for drinking can come from a contaminated reservoir, requiring treatment before it can be consumed. Contaminated water produced by the resource extraction industries needs to be dealt with before it can be disposed of. The list goes on.
Chemical engineering graduates fit perfectly in the water treatment industry. While studying chemical engineering, they may receive training in process engineering, biochemistry, and waste treatment, all of which are in demand in the water treatment industry. They work with communities, governments, and private organizations to design and maintain systems that will meet their specific water treatment needs.
American water treatment engineers earn an average of $88,771 per year.
8. Production Engineer
Many production processes have a lot of moving parts, and when something goes wrong, the process can grind to a halt. Production engineers are responsible for monitoring equipment and production processes, and troubleshooting any problems that may come up. . Much like process engineers, they may also work to find ways to improve and optimize processes.
Chemical engineering graduates are well suited to production engineering because, as part of any chemical engineering degree, students must intimately know the ins and outs of a process, how to design equipment, how to improve a process, and how to solve problems. Production engineers often work under pressure, because the longer a process is shut down, the more money is lost. It can be a stressful job when things go wrong, but it’s very rewarding when you keep your processes running smoothly!
In the United States, production engineers earn an average of $88,020 per year. Their job outlook is good, as there is an expected job growth of 10% in their field between 2019 and 2029.
There are so many different opportunities for chemical engineering graduates in such a wide range of industries that you can make your career (almost) anything you want! While each role will present unique challenges and requirements to overcome, no matter what role you choose, as a chemical engineering graduate you will have an extremely rewarding career.
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