Chemical Engineer Vs. Pharmacist

Nov 29, 2017

The training requirements and duties of chemical engineers and pharmacists are compared here. This article also looks at the salary expectations and job prospects for both of these occupations.

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Comparing Chemical Engineers to Pharmacists

Chemical engineers produce goods such as the drugs that pharmacists dispense to patients. While they may sometimes work with the same products the focus and work environment of chemical engineers and pharmacists differ greatly. Chemical engineers work behind the scenes to develop new products and determine how products are made while pharmacists typically provide medications, health information, flu shots and vaccines to patients.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Chemical Engineers Bachelor's degree $98,340 8%
Pharmacists Doctoral degree $122,230 6%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Chemical Engineers vs. Pharmacists

Chemical engineers use a combination of creative, analytical and problem-solving talents to develop design plans for new products or new methods of producing goods. They often work with hazardous materials, such as chemicals, and must be safety conscious and establish effective safety protocols. Pharmacists are also concerned about safety, but in a different capacity. They'll check a patient's medications to determine if there may be possible harmful drug interactions and they also ensure that patients know how to safely take the medications they've been prescribed. Pharmacists provide direct, general health care by educating patients about medications and health issues.

Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers spend their career focusing on product development. They specifically work with products made from chemicals or goods that are processed by chemicals. They are required to have a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering or a similar discipline to prepare for this career. A Professional Engineer (PE) license isn't required for entry-level work but may be needed to pursue advancement opportunities. Chemical engineers primarily work in laboratories or offices, although those who work in manufacturing may also visit plants and factories to observe production practices.

Job responsibilities of a chemical engineer include:

  • Developing design plans for products
  • Producing prototypes
  • Testing products
  • Identifying ways to improve production
  • Preparing budgets for new products or production methods
  • Creating safety guidelines


Pharmacists are required to earn a doctoral degree in pharmacy and be licensed. Their primary responsibilities have to do with the medications people receive. Pharmacists will check for potential harmful interactions between drugs to ensure that the medication people receive should be safe for them to take. Pharmacists may work in pharmacies, retail stores or hospitals. Some focus on marketing new medications or running clinical trials on new drugs to determine how effective they are. Those working in hospitals may see patients with physicians and provide advice about what medications patients should be given.

Job responsibilities of a pharmacist include:

  • Preparing pills for patients
  • Educating patients about medications
  • Immunizing patients
  • Filling out paperwork
  • Providing patients with general health information
  • Checking inventory and ordering supplies

Related Careers

Those who are interested in being chemical engineers or pharmacists may decide that they want to focus on biochemical research or developing medications. Learn more about careers that emphasize these objectives through the links listed here.

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