Opportunities for Advancement in Chemical Engineering

Jul 29, 2018

Career Growth Opportunities for Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers apply engineering, scientific, and mathematical principles to create processes involving the use of chemicals. Chemical engineers work with other engineers from various fields including those in the pharmaceutical industry, food, and energy sector. After some time of working as a chemical engineer, some professionals may wish to grow their career. They may specialize in fields of chemical engineering such as corrosion, pollution control, or biotechnology. Others may undertake a managerial position such as an environmental health and safety director. Some details on these careers are provided here.

Job Title Median Salary (2018) Job Growth (2016-2026)* Education or Experience
Corrosion Engineer $89,046*** 2% (materials engineers) Certifications
Air Pollution Control Engineer $84,221** 8% (environmental engineers) Master's degree
Senior Research Scientists, Biotechnology $101,079*** 13% (medical scientists) Master's degree/PhD
Environmental Health and Safety Director $109,038*** 8% (occupational health and safety specialists) Experience in safety programming and certification

*BLS, **Glassdoor, ***PayScale

Career Information

Corrosion Engineer

Chemical engineers must have a strong understanding of how chemical reactions affect materials. One way to utilize this knowledge is to specialize as a corrosion engineer. Corrosion occurs when materials degrade due to environmental conditions, and this is a major concern for industrial businesses. Corrosion engineers study how to protect roads, power plants, and other structures from adverse environmental effects, by developing processes such as protective coating systems. Some corrosion engineers focus on working with power companies to protect underwater turbines from corrosion. Corrosion engineers must inspect equipment to determine the nature and extent of corrosion, and develop a remedy. Corrosion engineers typically possess a bachelor's degree in engineering, and certification in various specialties of corrosion work is available through the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE).

Air Pollution Control Engineer

One avenue for career advancement for chemical engineers is to specialize in environmental issues. Air pollution control engineers monitor the chemical emissions by collecting field data to ensure that they are in compliance with state and federal regulations. They also aid in the design of new manufacturing plants, and work with current businesses to design solutions to limit and reduce air pollution that is emitted. They may also examine how pollutants interact in the environment. While some positions may be available for those with a bachelor's degree, obtaining a master's degree in air quality engineering or environmental engineering will make candidates more competitive for positions in this area.

Senior Research Scientist, Biotechnology

Some chemical engineers may wish to focus on researching scientific issues. One career path for these professionals might be as a senior research scientist in biotechnology. Research scientists develop research proposals and conduct experiments to solve technical problems within their field. Sometimes, they also participate in researches conducted in other laboratories. The fields where they are most commonly employed include neuroscience, cancer studies, and pharmacology. Most senior research scientists will have a master's or doctoral degree and experience in the field.

Environmental Health and Safety Director

Chemical engineers gain experience in ensuring that safety regulations are followed. So pursuing a position as an environmental health and safety director might be a great next step. Environmental and safety standards in their company/institution are checked by these professionals. They must be highly familiar with their employer's policies, and with state and federal regulations. These professionals protect human health and ensure against loss for the company. Typically, an environmental health and safety director would have a bachelor's degree, experience in safety programming, and certification through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Institute for Safety and Health Management (ISHM), or the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).

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