Chemical Engineer – Job Description

Chemical engineers generally work either in manufacturing or research and development (R&D). In smaller companies, the two roles are sometimes combined.

Manufacturing roles involve working on day-to-day operations in a processing plant, checking on production and dealing with any issues that arise, liaising with the health and safety and quality control departments and working with designers and engineers to develop new machinery and equipment.

R&D work centres around developing and testing new products in a lab, using computer models to determine the safest and most cost-effective production methods, moving planned products from the lab into initial production before helping to plan the move from small scale to industrial processing.

A chemical or process engineering degree/BTEC HNC/HND is the standard route into a job. A first, or a Masters degree, will greatly improve the odds of landing the top jobs. Graduates with an engineering degree in a different discipline (or chemistry/polymer science) often take a postgraduate Msc in chemical or processing engineering to boost their employment chances.

IChemE and IET offer experienced engineers short courses to keep them up to speed with new technologies, skills and developments.

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Other recommended resources:

Institute of Chemical Engineering
A professional society promoting continued development through research, conference events, training and continuing professional development (CPD) leading to chartered status.

Institute of Engineering and Technology
Also offering chartered status within CPD, membership gets you access to training and networking opportunities in addition to research and a framework of personal career support.

Engineering Council
The UK regulatory body for engineering, the EC lists the national register of chartered individuals and sets the standards for work and qualifications. Their website holds a lot of information about improving your status within the industry as well as the latest policy updates and research, helping you stay abreast of a continually evolving environment.

The Skills Sector Council for the advanced manufacturing and engineering sectors, these guys put you in touch with courses, qualifications and apprenticeship schemes.

A career guide website offering a wealth of information about getting into chemical engineering, offering links to training, taster courses and insightful people profiles.

Tomorrow’s Engineers
Still in school and interested in how you can get involved? Run by EngineeringUK, Tomorrow’s Engineers offer information, inspiration and the path from your school classroom to a job in the field.

WISE: Women in Science and Engineering
Aiming to promote science and engineering to women and address the current gender balance, WISE has a wealth of information and support for any women who want to get into the industry with apprenticeships, training and networking opportunities available.

Chemical Engineering
A digital magazine offering the latest news and information about the chemical engineering industry.

Simon Thompson

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