Chemical Engineers Vs. Materials Engineer

Chemical and materials engineers provide the skills needed to safely produce things like fuels, drugs, metals and plastics. How they apply their knowledge can differ with some of their tasks. Read on to contrast these careers in greater detail.

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Comparing Chemical Engineers to Materials Engineers

Chemical and materials engineers utilize their design skills and engineering knowledge to create and analyze products to ensure they meet expectations. Chemical engineers focus more on chemical processes and production methods than materials engineers do, while materials engineers concentrate on making new materials, improving existing materials and determining what materials should be used for specific products.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Chemical Engineers Bachelor's degree $98,340 8%
Materials Engineers Bachelor's degree $93,310 2%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Chemical Engineers vs. Materials Engineers

Chemical engineers and materials engineers can both be involved with designing products, although the products differ. Chemical engineers usually specialize in processing things like gas or food. Materials engineers focus on the ingredients used in other products. They may use their skills to develop a new type of material or test existing materials so that they can figure out the best materials to use to construct other products. Chemical engineers often work with dangerous materials and may need to establish safety standards for specific tasks. In addition to their other duties, materials engineers are responsible for assessing materials to determine how environmentally friendly and durable they are.

Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers typically study chemical engineering or a similar discipline and are required to have a bachelor's degree. They work in chemical manufacturing, research and other types of manufacturing industries. It's common for them to work in a laboratory or office, and those that work in manufacturing may also visit locations to observe product processing or manufacturing. They apply their knowledge to the way that goods such as food and paper are processed, and they also create new products. Safety is important in this field since it's common for chemical engineers to work with hazardous materials, such as fuel, chemicals and drugs, so chemical engineers need to pay attention to details and adhere to safety protocols rigorously.

Job responsibilities of a chemical engineer include:

  • Developing design plans for new products
  • Evaluating equipment to ensure they function as expected
  • Fixing or suggesting solutions to problems found in the manufacturing process
  • Preparing production budgets

Materials Engineers

Materials engineers contribute to the production process by assessing the materials used in products. Their work helps ensure that the best types of materials are used in production so that products work properly and safely. The most common field of study for materials engineers to pursue is materials science, and a bachelor's degree is required to enter this career field. Some materials engineers concentrate on research while others work in manufacturing and may be involved with manufacturing things such as vehicles, metals or plastics. Working overtime is common in this career field and the work environment for materials engineers may vary depending on what specific industry they work in.

Job responsibilities of a materials engineer include:

  • Testing materials
  • Designing materials
  • Developing project budgets
  • Identifying product flaws
  • Producing documentation on their design plans

Related Careers

Professionals that share some similarities with chemical and materials engineers include biochemical and aerospace engineers. Learn more about these comparable career options via the information linked to here.

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