Summary Report for:
17-2041.00 - Chemical Engineers
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.
Sample of reported job titles: Chemical Engineer, Development Engineer, Engineer, Engineering Scientist, Process Control Engineer, Process Engineer, Project Engineer, Refinery Process Engineer, Research Chemical Engineer, Scientist
Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- 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.
- Troubleshoot problems with chemical manufacturing processes.
- Evaluate chemical equipment and processes to identify ways to optimize performance or to ensure compliance with safety and environmental regulations.
- Conduct research to develop new and improved chemical manufacturing processes.
- Perform laboratory studies of steps in manufacture of new products and test proposed processes in small-scale operation, such as a pilot plant.
- Prepare estimate of production costs and production progress reports for management.
- Design measurement and control systems for chemical plants based on data collected in laboratory experiments and in pilot plant operations.
- Determine most effective arrangement of operations such as mixing, crushing, heat transfer, distillation, and drying.
- Direct activities of workers who operate or are engaged in constructing and improving absorption, evaporation, or electromagnetic equipment.
- Perform tests and monitor performance of processes throughout stages of production to determine degree of control over variables such as temperature, density, specific gravity, and pressure.
- Design and plan layout of equipment.
- Analytical or scientific software — Minitab ; SoftLab PHEdesign; The MathWorks MATLAB ; Thermal Analysis Systems The Energy Analyst (see all 26 examples)
- Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD ; CD-adapco STAR-CAD; Dassault Systemes CATIA ; PTC Creo Parametric (see all 7 examples)
- Data base user interface and query software — Chempute Software E-Notebook; G&P Engineering Software PhysProps; Microsoft Access ; Structured query language SQL (see all 5 examples)
- Desktop publishing software
- Development environment software — C ; Microsoft Visual Basic ; National Instruments LabVIEW
- Enterprise resource planning ERP software — SAP
- Financial analysis software — Chempute Software EstPro
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Chempute Software ChemDraw; Microsoft Visio
- Industrial control software — GE Fanuc Proficy Machine Edition; Supervisory control and data acquisition SCADA software
- Object or component oriented development software — C++ ; Microsoft Visual C# .NET
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Project management software — Microsoft Project
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
- Benchtop centrifuges
- Bi distillation units — Distillation systems
- Catalytic combustion analyzers — Catalytic reactors
- Chemical absorption gas analyzers — Gas absorbers
- Chromatographic scanners — Chromatographic scanning equipment
- Dewatering equipment — Sludge dryers
- Distillation pipings or columns or fittings — Distillation columns
- Freezedryers or lyophilzers — Lyophilizers
- Goggles — Safety goggles
- Heat exchangers
- Laboratory evaporators — Laboratory evaporaters
- Laboratory filtration hardware or accessories — Filtration systems
- Laboratory mixers — Agitators; Benchtop mixers; Powder mixing equipment
- Mass spectrometers
- Microcontrollers — Programmable logic controllers PLC
- Personal computers
- Personal digital assistant PDAs or organizers — Personal digital assistants PDA
- Processing tanks — Mixing tanks
- Robotic or automated liquid handling systems — Vial handling systems
- Scanning probe microscopes — Atomic force microscopes
- Spectrometers — Surface analysis spectroscopes
- Ultrafiltration equipment — Plate filter presses
- Vacuum pumps
- Wet scrubbers
- Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
- Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
- Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- 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).
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- 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 there is a problem.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- 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).
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- 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.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- 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.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- 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.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment — Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Selling or Influencing Others — Convincing others to buy merchandise/goods or to otherwise change their minds or actions.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Detailed Work Activities
- Research engineering aspects of biological or chemical processes.
- Develop technical methods or processes.
- Determine causes of operational problems or failures.
- Evaluate characteristics of equipment or systems.
- Conduct validation tests of equipment or processes.
- Research industrial processes or operations.
- Design control systems for mechanical or other equipment.
- Estimate operational costs.
- Prepare operational reports.
- Determine operational methods.
- Direct industrial production activities.
- Monitor the productivity or efficiency of industrial operations.
- Design industrial processing systems.
- Electronic Mail — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 86% responded “Every day.”
- Telephone — 68% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 55% responded “Extremely important.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 73% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 64% responded “Every day.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 64% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 50% responded “Extremely important.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 50% responded “Important results.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 59% responded “Some freedom.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 50% responded “Some freedom.”
- Contact With Others — 36% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 48% responded “More than half the time.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 45% responded “Every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 41% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Letters and Memos — 50% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 41% responded “Very important.”
- Level of Competition — 45% responded “Moderately competitive.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 36% responded “High responsibility.”
- Time Pressure — 55% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 41% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 32% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 36% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 27% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
Interest code: IR Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- 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.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- 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.
- 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.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2017)||$49.12 hourly, $102,160 annual|
|Employment (2016)||33,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2016-2026)||Average (5% to 9%)|
|Projected job openings (2016-2026)||2,400|
|Top industries (2016)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017 wage data and 2016-2026 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2016-2026). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
- American Chemical Society
- American Institute of Chemical Engineers
- American Society for Engineering Education
- Association of Consulting Chemists and Chemical Engineers
- GPA Midstream
- International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering
- International Society of Automation
- Materials Research Society
- National Society of Professional Engineers
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Chemical engineers
- Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- The American Society of Mechanical Engineers
- Water Environment Federation