Chemical Engineer

Does this career fit your work personality?

Begin The Career Assessment Test
FIT Score
Discover your work personality strengths.
This is a Premium Feature X Find your
  • Best Fitting Careers
  • Work Personality Strengths
  • Work Style Preferences
  • and more
Job Outlook:
Faster than average
Education: Bachelor's degree
High: $171,400.00
Average: $117,820.00
Average: $56.64

What they do:

Design chemical plant equipment and devise processes for manufacturing chemicals and products, such as gasoline, synthetic rubber, plastics, detergents, cement, paper, and pulp, by applying principles and technology of chemistry, physics, and engineering.

On the job, you would:

  • Monitor and analyze data from processes and experiments.
  • Develop safety procedures to be employed by workers operating equipment or working in close proximity to ongoing chemical reactions.
  • Develop processes to separate components of liquids or gases or generate electrical currents, using controlled chemical processes.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Chemical engineers must be able to evaluate designs and processes and to propose improvements, if necessary.

Communication skills. Because chemical engineers frequently work on teams, they must be able to express themselves clearly in discussions and develop good relationships with colleagues.

Creativity. Chemical engineers explore new ways of applying engineering to invent new materials and advance manufacturing techniques in chemical engineering.

Math skills. Chemical engineers use calculus and other advanced math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Chemical engineers must be able to anticipate and identify problems, such as those related to manufacturing processes, and to devise solutions.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

97% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
96% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
91% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
82% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
81% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
81% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
80% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
80% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
72% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
72% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
67% Independence  -  Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
A3 Your Strengths Importance


95% Investigative  -  Work involves studying and researching non-living objects, living organisms, disease or other forms of impairment, or human behavior. Investigative occupations are often associated with physical, life, medical, or social sciences, and can be found in the fields of humanities, mathematics/statistics, information technology, or health care service.
89% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

78% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
72% Achievement  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
72% Working Conditions  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
72% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

78% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
75% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
75% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
75% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
75% Information Ordering  -  The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
75% Category Flexibility  -  The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
75% Mathematical Reasoning  -  The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
72% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
69% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
69% Fluency of Ideas  -  The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
69% Originality  -  The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
69% Number Facility  -  The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
66% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Skills | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

73% Science  -  Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
70% Critical Thinking  -  Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
66% Mathematics  -  Using mathematics to solve problems.

Job Details

Determine causes of operational problems or failures.
Evaluate characteristics of equipment or systems.
Monitor the productivity or efficiency of industrial operations.
Conduct validation tests of equipment or processes.
Research engineering aspects of biological or chemical processes.
Determine operational methods.
Estimate operational costs.
Prepare operational reports.
Direct industrial production activities.
Research industrial processes or operations.
Conduct validation tests of equipment or processes.
Develop technical methods or processes.
Research engineering aspects of biological or chemical processes.
Design control systems for mechanical or other equipment.
Design industrial processing systems.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

100% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
96% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
89% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
88% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
86% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
84% Responsible for Others' Health and Safety  -  How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?
82% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
80% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
78% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
77% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
74% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
74% Spend Time Sitting  -  How much does this job require sitting?
73% Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets  -  How much does this job require wearing common protective or safety equipment such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets?
69% Consequence of Error  -  How serious would the result usually be if the worker made a mistake that was not readily correctable?
69% Letters and Memos  -  How often does the job require written letters and memos?
66% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
87% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

93% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
92% Analyzing Data or Information  -  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
89% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
88% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
86% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
83% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
82% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
80% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
78% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
77% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
77% Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards  -  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
76% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
74% Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information  -  Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
71% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
71% Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others  -  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
67% Developing and Building Teams  -  Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.

What Chemical Engineers Do

Chemical engineers
Chemical engineers develop and design chemical manufacturing processes.

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, physics, and engineering to design equipment and processes for manufacturing products such as gasoline, detergents, and paper.


Chemical engineers typically do the following:

  • Conduct research to develop new and improved manufacturing processes
  • Design and plan the layout of equipment
  • Establish safety procedures for working with dangerous chemicals
  • Conduct tests and monitor production processes
  • Troubleshoot problems in manufacturing processes
  • Evaluate equipment and processes to ensure compliance with safety and environmental regulations
  • Estimate production costs for management

Chemical engineers work on producing a variety of chemicals and products, such as electronics, food, clothing, and paper. Along with designing and developing manufacturing processes, they ensure the safety of both work environments and consumers.

Chemical engineers commonly use computer-aided design (CAD) software in developing materials and products. Many engineers are generalists whose knowledge is transferable across industries.

Some chemical engineers specialize in a particular process, such as oxidation (a reaction of oxygen with chemicals to make other chemicals), or in developing specific products. Others specialize in a particular field, such as nanomaterials (extremely small substances).

Chemical engineers also may collaborate on research projects in a variety of other fields, including life sciences, biotechnology, and business services.

Work Environment

Chemical engineers held about 20,800 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of chemical engineers were as follows:

Chemical manufacturing 35%
Engineering services 13
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 13
Federal government, excluding postal service 5

Chemical engineers typically work in an office setting or in laboratories. They also may visit industrial plants, refineries, and other locations to monitor operations. Chemical engineers also may collaborate with those who design other systems, such as in biotechnology, or work with the technicians and mechanics who put designs into practice.

Injuries and Illnesses

Chemical engineers may be exposed to health or safety hazards when handling certain chemicals and plant equipment. Workers reduce their risk of injury or illness by following safety procedures and wearing protective equipment, such as gloves, goggles, and hard hats.

Work Schedules

Most chemical engineers work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. They may have to work additional hours to meet production targets or to troubleshoot problems with manufacturing processes. 

Getting Started

Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree

How to Become a Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers
Becoming a chemical engineer requires a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering or a related field.

To enter the occupation, chemical engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a related field. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have gained practical experience in an internship or a cooperative education program.


High school students interested in chemical engineering should take classes in sciences such as chemistry, physics, and biology. They also should take math courses, including algebra, calculus, and trigonometry.

Bachelor's degree programs in chemical engineering or a related field typically include classroom, laboratory, and field studies. These programs usually take 4 years, but some colleges and universities have 5-year engineering programs that lead to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

Employers often prefer to hire graduates of ABET-accredited engineering programs. In chemical engineering, ABET-accredited programs include courses in chemistry, physics, and biology and the application of these sciences to process design and analysis.

Some colleges and universities offer internships or cooperative education programs. In these programs, students gain practical experience while completing their education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level chemical engineers.

Experienced engineers may obtain a Professional Engineer (PE) license, which allows them to oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public.

State licensure generally requires a bachelor’s or higher degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, a passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, several years of relevant work experience, and a passing score on the PE exam.

Each state issues its own license. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements. Some states require engineers to take continuing education to maintain licensure.


Chemical engineers may advance to supervise a team of engineers and technicians or to become engineering managers. Advancing into supervisory or management positions usually requires several years of experience, often working under the guidance of a senior-level engineer.

Job Outlook

Employment of chemical engineers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 1,300 openings for chemical engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Demand for chemical engineers’ services depends largely on demand for the products that these workers help to develop. For example, environmental and sustainability concerns have led chemistry and manufacturing firms to research alternative fertilizers, resulting in a need for chemical engineers.

In addition, demand for these workers will continue with chemical engineering’s migration into nanotechnology, alternative energies, biotechnology, and other fields.

Contacts for More Information

For more information on becoming a chemical engineer, visit

American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)

For information about general engineering education and career resources, visit

American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)

Technology Student Association (TSA)

For information about accredited engineering programs, visit


For more information about licensure as a professional engineer, visit

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES)

National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE)

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of chemical engineers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Agricultural engineers Agricultural Engineers

Agricultural engineers solve problems concerning power supplies, machine efficiency, the use of structures and facilities, pollution and environmental issues, and the storage and processing of agricultural products.

Bachelor's degree $83,260
Architectural and engineering managers Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in the fields of architecture and engineering.

Bachelor's degree $159,920
Bioengineers and biomedical engineers Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software.

Bachelor's degree $99,550
Chemical technicians Chemical Technicians

Chemical technicians conduct laboratory tests to help scientists analyze the properties of materials.

Associate's degree $50,840
Chemists and materials scientists Chemists and Materials Scientists

Chemists and materials scientists research and analyze the chemical properties of substances to develop new materials, products, or knowledge.

Bachelor's degree $81,810
Materials engineers Materials Engineers

Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a wide range of products.

Bachelor's degree $100,140
Nuclear engineers Nuclear Engineers

Nuclear engineers research and develop projects or address problems concerning the release, control, and use of nuclear energy and nuclear waste disposal.

Bachelor's degree $122,480
Occupational health and safety specialists Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians collect data on, analyze, and design improvements to work environments and procedures.

See How to Become One $75,240

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.