Chemical Engineer  What They Do

Just the Facts


Chemical Engineers Career Video



Designs chemical plant equipment and devises processes for manufacturing chemicals and products, such as gasoline, synthetic rubber, plastics, detergents, cement, paper, and pulp, by applying principles and technology of chemistry, physics, and engineering.

This career is part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics cluster Engineering and Technology pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Monitors and analyzes data from processes and experiments.
  • Develops safety procedures to be employed by workers operating equipment or working in close proximity to ongoing chemical reactions.
  • Develops processes to separate components of liquids or gases or generate electrical currents, using controlled chemical processes.
  • Troubleshoots problems with chemical manufacturing processes.
  • Evaluates chemical equipment and processes to identify ways to optimize performance or to ensure compliance with safety and environmental regulations.
  • Conducts research to develop new and improved chemical manufacturing processes.
  • Performs laboratory studies of steps in manufacture of new products and test proposed processes in small-scale operation, such as a pilot plant.
  • Prepares estimate of production costs and production progress reports for management.
  • Designs measurement and control systems for chemical plants based on data collected in laboratory experiments and in pilot plant operations.
  • Determines most effective arrangement of operations such as mixing, crushing, heat transfer, distillation, and drying.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves sitting more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Development Engineer --
  • Engineer --
  • Engineering Scientist --
  • Process Control Engineer --
  • Process Engineer -- Develops and optimizes economical industrial processes to make the huge range of products on which modern society depends.
  • Project Engineer --
  • Refinery Process Engineer --
  • Research Chemical Engineer --
  • Scientist --