Chemical engineers typically do the following:
- Develop safety procedures for those working with potentially dangerous chemicals
- Troubleshoot problems with manufacturing processes
- Evaluate equipment and processes to ensure compliance with safety and environmental regulations
- Conduct research to develop new and improved manufacturing processes
- Design and plan the layout of equipment
- Do tests and monitor performance of processes throughout production
- Estimate production costs for management
- Develop processes to separate components of liquids or gases or to generate electrical currents using controlled chemical processes
Chemical engineers apply principles of physics, biology, mathematics, mechanical and electrical engineering, and chemistry. Some specialize in a particular process, such as oxidation (burning chemicals to make other chemicals) or polymerization (making plastics). Others specialize in a particular field, such as nanomaterials (making extremely small substances), or in developing specific products.
Chemical engineers also work in a variety of industries other than chemical manufacturing. They work in producing energy, electronics, food, clothing, and paper. They work in health care, biotechnology, and business services.
Chemical engineers must be aware of all aspects in the manufacturing of chemicals, drugs, or other products. They must also understand how the manufacturing process affects the environment and the safety of workers and consumers.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition