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Become a Chemical Plant Manager: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a chemical plant manager. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in chemical plant management. View article »

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  • 0:03 What Is a Chemical…
  • 0:27 Career Requirements
  • 1:15 Get a Degree in…
  • 2:20 Gain Work Experience
  • 3:16 Earn an MBA
  • 3:46 Become a Plant Manager

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Video Transcript

What Is a Chemical Plant Manager?

Chemical plant managers oversee manufacturing and production operations at industrial sites concerned with chemicals. They find employment in industries like pharmaceuticals, petroleum, and transportation. These professionals tend to work full time and make above-average salaries. However, they often spend a good deal of time at production plants and refineries, and often may be required to travel.

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Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; some positions may prefer a graduate degree or Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Degree Field Chemical engineering
Experience Most employers require at least 10 years of experience
Key Skills Strong math and problem-solving skills; excellent written and verbal communication; analytical and teamwork skills; familiarity with field-specific programming; knowledge of various chemical unit operations; leadership and management abilities
Salary (2015)* $93,090 (for industrial production managers, including plant managers)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET OnLine, CareerBuilder.com job postings (January 2013)

Step 1: Get a Degree in Chemical Engineering

According to a survey of open job listings for chemical plant managers on CareerBuilder.com, most employers sought managers who had earned at least a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. These programs train students in the basic principles of science, mathematics, and engineering. They also provide specialized instruction in creating new products and processes. The degree should be granted by a program accredited by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering Technology, which approves engineering and technology programs. These programs are available at many universities.

Success Tip:

One success tip is to join a professional organization. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) offers benefits to students, such as networking opportunities and access to internship and job postings. AIChE has student chapters in colleges and universities nationwide. Students who join their university's AIChE chapter may find opportunities to build their resumes, and they may be able to attend conferences to meet with engineering professionals.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Employers of chemical plant managers typically look for workers with extensive experience in the field. According to a search of open positions on CareerBuilder.com, employers required about 10 years of experience in the chemical manufacturing industry. Chemical engineers can find entry-level work in a variety of industries, such as fuels, textiles, and pharmaceuticals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most entry-level jobs in engineering consist of recent graduates working under the supervision of more experienced colleagues.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that unlike other engineering careers, chemical engineering doesn't always require a professional engineering license. However, in the event a chemical engineer is interested in earning a professional engineer license, the process entails the completion of an ABET-approved engineering program, the passing of two engineering exams, and work experience obtained between the two exams. Individuals should check with their state regarding other licensing requirements and continuing education.

Step 3: Earn an MBA

Earning an MBA can give one the theoretical knowledge and practical experience to advance into management careers within the chemical field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that graduate-level degrees have become more valued in industrial management as production methods grow more complicated. MBA programs are available at many schools throughout the country. Through instruction based on real-world scenarios and experience, these programs prepare students to take analytic, leadership-based positions at various organizations.

Step 4: Become Plant Manager

Sufficient education and experience are paramount to being promoted to plant manager. Engineers can work their way up from being supervised to more independent work, and with that comes more responsibility to make key decisions. Eventually, engineers can themselves advance to become employee supervisors. From there, a proven record of management and leadership experience can lead engineers to managerial positions, such as a chemical plant manager or other advanced roles.


Chemical plant managers are responsible for the overall operation of facilities that use or manufacture chemicals and are highly compensated with an annual salary of $93,090.

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