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Chemical Engineer Vs. Civil Engineer

Although many engineers perform similar general tasks, they work with different materials and on different types of projects. Continue reading to compare the types of things that chemical and civil engineers design or produce and how their duties differ.

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Comparing Chemical Engineers to Civil Engineers

Chemical and civil engineers rely on many similar skills but their work environments and projects are very different. Chemical engineers tend to work indoors and focus on the production of things like drugs. Civil engineers split their time between working in an office and going to a building site where they monitor the construction of things like bridges and roads.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Chemical Engineers Bachelor's degree $98,340 8%
Civil Engineers Bachelor's degree $83,540 11%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Chemical Engineers vs. Civil Engineers

Chemical and civil engineers are both responsible for using computer design software to produce schematics and design plans for projects. Chemical engineers may evaluate existing products or production methods and concentrate on identifying areas for improvement. Their work can involve refining the contents of a product or how things like food are processed. Civil engineers oversee the construction of infrastructure projects they've designed, which can include airports and things like public water systems. While chemical engineers may oversee other engineers or technicians in a laboratory environment, civil engineers will monitor the work of construction crews to ensure that regulations and building plans are followed properly.

Chemical Engineers

Advanced positions for chemical engineers may require a Professional Engineer (PE) license but entry-level positions can be pursued with a bachelor's degree in this discipline. Chemical engineers spend most of their time working in laboratories or offices, and the most common industries they work for include research and manufacturing. They use their knowledge of chemicals and chemical production and apply it to the development of products such as fuel. They also work on improving production methods for things like food. Since they work with chemicals they need to be safety conscious and may be involved in determining safety guidelines in their workplace.

Job responsibilities of a chemical engineer include:

  • Evaluating production systems
  • Assessing the performance of their products
  • Modifying design plans
  • Preparing budget proposals

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers are the creative and technical professionals behind infrastructure projects and buildings. They use their skills to ensure things like effective tunnels and septic systems are constructed, as well as a wide range of other systems and structures. Their duties require them to spend part of the time working in offices, but they may work on construction sites and travel to project locations as part of their regular duties, as well. Those interested in this occupation prepare by studying civil engineering and earning a bachelor's degree. A Professional Engineer (PE) license is required for some positions in this field and may be necessary for those in this field to advance to managerial roles.

Job responsibilities of a civil engineer include:

  • Developing a budget for projects
  • Securing building permits
  • Inspecting structures
  • Arranging for maintenance and repairs when needed

Related Careers

These links connect to information about careers that share some common objectives or duties as the careers discussed in this article. Use them to learn about the work of biomedical engineers and construction managers.

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