Chemical Engineering Careers

A chemical engineering education is a versatile tool that may open a wide variety of opportunities to graduates. A chemical engineer understands processes and the means to synthesize a wide range of scientific fields into useful end, and for such skills chemical engineers have traditionally been among the highest paid professionals in the engineering and science disciplines.

Chemical engineers make a significant difference in our quality of life. Some develop clean, new energy sources that may power our society. Some develop and produce fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals to assist in feeding the world’s population. Virtually all pharmaceuticals are produced by chemical engineers, and many study and produce biomedical devices and artificial organs. Still other chemical engineers are involved in development and production of new materials for use in new high-tech products.

What Do Chemical Engineers Do?

Because many industries are based on chemical and physical transformation of matter, the chemical engineer is in great demand. He or she may work in a variety of fields and professions.

  • In the manufacture of inorganic products such as acids, alkalis, ammonia, fertilizers, paint pigments, ceramics, semiconductors and other electronic materials.
  • In the manufacture of organic products such as polymer fibers, films, coatings, textiles, cellulose, paper, dyes, explosives, rubber, rocket propellants, solvents, plastics, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals, coal-based fuels and petrochemicals.
  • In the manufacture of materials such as graphite, calcium carbide, abrasives, or those in wet and dry batteries, fuel cells and more complex materials systems.
  • In the electroplating, metallurgical and materials processing industries.
  • In the fermentation industry for the production of antibiotics, feed supplements and other biochemical products;
  • In the field of biotechnology, where applications range from utilization of the activities of microorganisms and cultured cells, to enzyme engineering, to the manufacture of foods, and in the biomedical field to the design of prosthetic devices and artificial human organs.

Chemical engineers are also particularly well suited for dealing with problems associated with the disposal of industrial wastes and other forms of pollution, as well as with environmental protection. And of course chemical engineering underlies most of the energy field, including the efficient and clean production and utilization of coal, petroleum, natural gas, tar sand, oil shale, geothermal deposits, and nuclear energy.

Finally, a degree in chemical engineering is a great first step towards careers at the periphery of engineering. Some chemical engineers will use their skills to enter a career in medicine and law, particularly patent law.

You may find out more in our article “What Is Chemical Engineering?”

Career Paths

Although chemical engineering career opportunities are varied, job functions can be categorized more easily. Chemical engineers are usually involved in research, design, development, production, technical sales, or management:

  • In research, they develop new ideas, new products, and new ways to produce existing products more economically and with less environmental impact.
  • In design, they create the processes that convert raw materials into finished products with emphasis on efficiency, safety, consumer needs, and environmental protection.
  • The development engineer improves existing processes and technology to better meet changing needs. Production engineering involves processes and operations.
  • Management and technical sales involve decision making with regard to consumer needs and technical capabilities. Chemical engineers are creative problem solvers.

The careers of chemical engineers are rewarding not only from an intellectual and financial view, but also from a personal perspective. Their occupations are intellectually stimulating, and encourage creativity, and the fruits of their labors provide a better quality of life for humankind.

Finding a Job

Free Resources Provided by the Career and Professional Development Center

The first stop in your job search should be the Career and Professional Development Center. This University of Utah department offers students several valuable tools:

  • Personal Posting and Access to an online job search database
  • Resume assistance.
  • Full-time, part-time and internship job postings.
  • On-campus interviews with local and national companies.
  • Career Fairs.
  • Mock interviews and interview assistance.
  • Job search strategies.
  • Job search resources including CareerShift, career service’s nationwide company database.
  • There are several career coaches dedicated to engineering students. Make an appointment with a coach to talk about pursuing jobs, fine-tuning your resume, perfecting your interviewing skills, and negotiating the best possible salary.

Chemical Engineering Job Search Services

In addition to career services, the chemical engineering department receives internship and job information. Opportunities are available in various employment sectors.

The John and Marcia Price College of Engineering has an online jobs board where employers are always posting jobs and internships. You can also sign up for email job alerts of newly posted jobs in your area of expertise.

You should also attend our yearly interview workshop.

Government Jobs and Internships

Professional Organizations:

International Opportunities: