Career Corner: Career Paths for Chemical Engineers | AIChE

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Career Corner: Career Paths for Chemical Engineers


The mess on my desk is all because of chemical engineers; or, more specifically, the varied career paths chemical engineers have taken. From my teacup and takeout container, to the jumble of sticky notes and files, to my laptop, printer, and phone, chemical engineers have influenced every item.

Engineering career consultant and president of Quantum Success Solutions (Tucson, AZ) Alaina G. Levine says this is because “Chemical engineers’ skill sets are widely applicable, which makes ChEs incredibly valuable across industries.” Levine notes that chemical engineers approach problems in a unique way: “They are trained to see pain points. They have the ability to figure out what the barriers are and create innovations to overcome them.”

Chemical engineers on a traditional career path may work in the oil and gas, basic or specialty chemicals, or pharmaceutical industries. They may start as research, process development, or production engineers, and have job responsibilities that might include scaling up processes, designing processes and equipment, planning and testing production methods and byproduct treatment, or directing facility operations.

Anthony Actis, an environmental engineer with CDM Smith (Denver, CO), points out: “There is demand for chemical engineers who can excel in critical problem-solving and can work in multidisciplinary teams. There...

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