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5 minute read

What’s it Like to Work as a Chemical Engineer?

Chemical engineers have the power to change the world. Here, we consider how this career path can benefit budding engineers in Singapore.

Chemical engineers use their expert-level knowledge of chemical processes to produce and manufacture products, ranging from fuels and foods to pharmaceuticals and biological items. Meanwhile, chemical engineers also design equipment and chemical plants to reliably transform raw materials into products that support business needs.

If you’d like to pursue a career in engineering, earning your chemical engineering qualification is an outstanding choice. You’ll use chemistry, biochemistry, information technology and more to deliver incredible products. We’ve explored the core responsibilities and career paths to help you learn more about the role.

The four key areas for chemical engineers

There are numerous rewarding paths to take in chemical engineering. Here, we look at the diverse roles available in Singapore.

1. Concept design

Chemical engineers devise the ideal way to produce a specific product. As efficiency is one of the core considerations, it’s your responsibility to develop the most effective chemical plant design to achieve your employer’s goals. If successful, this work can dramatically improve workflow and organisation.

However, a poorly conceived plant design can increase waste and other troubling concerns that affect profitability and performance. You’ll also have to work within environmental standards and budgetary limitations, meaning you need a creative mindset to overcome challenging design obstacles.

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2. Research and development

Chemical engineers also work in research and development (R&D) to design, test and enhance process control and measurement systems. You might experiment with various chemical formulas to discover a fascinating way to create a product that costs less or offers consumers better performance.

In addition, chemical engineers in R&D often collaborate with stakeholders like chemists, physicists and lawyers to meet business needs. Many businesses employ R&D chemical engineers, but universities, tech startups and large-scale petrochemical operations are constantly seeking new talent.

3. Operations

Once a production plant is operational, chemical engineers will monitor progress to ensure everything is running optimally. Typically, this involves keeping tabs on the computer control systems to review unit temperatures and pressures. Plus, chemical engineers will assess samples to maintain strict quality control over the plant’s output.

To succeed in this role, you’ll have to develop superior technical skills across numerous fields, including mathematics, trend analysis, chemistry and more. Chemical plants are dangerous places when things go wrong, so you’ll also require a deep appreciation for safety standards alongside excellent soft skills to navigate complex situations.

4. Commissioning

Designing and building a plant can take years to complete. However, as the process reaches an end, commissioning chemical engineers to help hand over the newly finished facility to its owner. This role requires chemical engineers to test the infrastructure to ensure it functions as expected.

After it’s ready to proceed, chemical engineers will also provide owners with technical support to assist with the start-up process. Through their specialised knowledge of the plant, they provide instructive guidance and training that enhances manufacturing procedures and fosters greater safety standards.

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The best reasons to become a chemical engineer

Now that you’ve read about common roles for chemical engineers, you must decide whether the position fits your aspirations and talents. Below, we look at the main reasons people choose to become chemical engineers.

1. Excellent career opportunities

Chemical engineers have numerous exciting career choices to explore once qualified. For example, graduate chemical engineers can head straight into fascinating scientific research departments at universities or work on large-scale engineering operations in the field.

Chemical engineers employed by multinational companies also have a diverse selection of roles. For people seeking a dynamic career that puts their skills to the test every day, chemical engineering is a wise decision.

2. In-demand skillset

Skilled graduates that appreciate various sciences will love their role as a chemical engineer. This is because the position requires a wealth of technical knowledge, including chemistry, engineering and materials science. However, it’s not just engineering talent that comes in handy.

Chemical engineers also benefit from an understanding of economics, management, safety and sustainability, as their work must conform to budgetary and environmental factors. Ultimately, no two jobs are the same in the chemical engineering field.

3. Create genuine change

If you want to leave your mark on the world, chemical engineering is the right career for you. Many roles throughout this ever-evolving industry positively impact everyday people around the globe, with your projects helping to deliver tangible benefits.

For example, chemical engineers are working on the front lines of climate change science to develop renewable energy sources, increase the efficiency of everyday items and improve agriculture to reduce world hunger. Start your chemical engineering degree to make a difference.

Once you’re ready to start applying for jobs and attending interviews, you can utilise these tips to make a lasting impression during your interview.

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