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What Skills Are Needed for Chemical Engineering Employment?

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  • Written By: Karyn Maier
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2014
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In order to be successful in finding suitable chemical engineering employment, it is necessary to demonstrate mastery of a variety of different skills. To the uninitiated, the title of chemical engineer may sound as though the ability to endure long hours in a chemical laboratory is one of them. This is far from the case, however. In fact, the skills needed to obtain chemical engineering employment extend far beyond possessing knowledge of the principles of chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Many chemical engineering jobs routinely involve plenty of field trips and contact with a variety of clients and colleagues, often on an international scale.

By definition, chemical engineering involves the development of products that will be feasible and profitable to produce in volume in terms of the manufacturing process and the investment required. On the surface, this indicates that the engineer must possess adequate skills in applied chemistry and mechanical engineering. While this is certainly true, it is also necessary to conceive and adhere to projections relating to the allocation of financial and manpower assets. This means being able to balance a budget as well chemical equations, in addition to the ability to exercise project management skills to oversee the project from concept to completion.

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Aside from playing a key role in the development and production processes, the chemical engineer must also be concerned with related safety issues. Obviously, coming into contact with various chemicals and formulas can present certain health hazards. Therefore, the engineer must be familiar with standard manufacturing practices, not only in terms of taking precautions to avoid unnecessary exposure to such substances, but also in the proper handling, distribution, storage, and disposal of these materials.

The chemical engineer must also be thoroughly familiar with the latest technologies being used in the industry or industries in which he or she is primarily engaged. The scope of this knowledge can vary considerably since the field involves so many different markets. For example, most chemical engineering employment opportunities are typically found in the electronic, automobile, pharmaceutical, agricultural, construction, textile, and petroleum refining industries. In addition, companies that specialize in developing sustainable energy solutions or providing environmental conservation and remediation services represent further avenues for chemical engineering employment.

A career in chemical engineering requires an expertise in chemistry, mechanical engineering, physics, and other related scientific disciplines as applicable. Since most chemical engineering jobs involve a good deal of interaction between in-house personnel and management, as well as outside clients, third party vendors, and other project engineers, exceptional communication and interpersonal skills are also needed. Finally, being detail orientated and comfortable supervising individuals and teams is desirable.

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