As a chemical or process engineer you would research and design the machinery and processes used to turn raw materials into everyday products such as fuel, plastics and food. If you are interested in chemistry and enjoy solving problems then this could be the career for you.
As a chemical engineer you would be involved in the design, manufacture and operation of processes that turn raw materials into domestic and industrial products, for example in food manufacturing, gas production and refining of minerals. You may also be involved in the research and development of new or improved products.
If you work in research and development, you would:
- test new ways to develop products in the lab
- use computer models to work out the safest and most cost-effective production methods
- plan how to move lab tests into a pilot production phase, then on to large-scale industrial processing
- develop methods to deal with by-products and waste materials in a safe way.
In manufacturing, you would:
- work with plant designers to create equipment and control instruments for the production process
- help to oversee the day-to-day operation of the processing plant
- monitor production and deal with problems
- work closely with quality control and health and safety managers.
- maths and science skills, particularly chemistry
- good problem-solving and analytical skills
- planning and organisational ability
- excellent IT skills
- the ability to manage projects, budgets and people
- good spoken and written communication skills
- the ability to work as part of a team
- a clear understanding of the commercial application of science.
Average salary (2013):
United Kingdom: Graduate salaries start at around £28,000 a year.
Qualifications and training required:
To become a chemical engineer, you would normally need an accredited BEng degree in chemical, process or biochemical engineering.
To get onto a relevant degree, you would usually need at least five GCSEs (grades A-C), and three A levels including maths, chemistry and possibly, another science subject. Some universities offer a foundation year for people without qualifications in maths and science. Check with colleges or universities for their exact entry requirements.
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