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Career pathways for chemical engineers- A guide on education, jobs & scope

Updated on September 19, 2014

With the spurt in expansion of scientific knowledge, application of science; mainly chemistry, to technology development, there is a great rise in demand of chemical engineers across the world. Moreover, this has made the chemical engineering professional a highly aspired for today. Nowadays, chemical engineering jobs are available across diversified branches, ranges from biotechnology and mineral processing to nanotechnology, and covers a wide gamut of segments in petrochemical, pharmaceutical industries and petroleum refining plants.

The work of chemical engineers is the perfect amalgamation of different areas of those industrial engineers, electrical engineers and chemists. It is touted as one of the most versatile branches of engineering.

What is chemical engineering?

Chemical engineering field deals with a wide range of specializations and is not restricted to only chemicals items. It is concerned with designing and working of industrial units. Students who have studied chemical engineering learn to convert raw materials into viable items. By providing concrete solutions to various technological problems, chemical engineers help in creating subtle innovations that influence our lives in an intricate manner.


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What do chemical engineers do?

In today's fast-paced life, where we try to make food available to people by using less farmland, where citizens are becoming environment-friendly and where manufacturers demand high efficiency in order to survive in cut-throat competition, it might be easier to think, “What doesn't come under the job profile of a chemical engineer?

Consider how the work of a chemical engineer is affecting our life from the moment we wake up in the morning. Our toothbrush, makeup, shoes, cereals we eat, the fuel used in a vehicle-each of these shows the contribution of a chemical engineer. In fact, chemical engineering job involves developing everything from fibers for clothing to artificial hearts in medical field.

They act as a connecting link between science and man. Due to the broad usage of chemical engineering across different industries, you may find a burgeoning demand of chemical engineering jobs which are available in any field of your interest.

Chemical engineers play an indispensable role in conserving the environment by inventing clean technologies and studying effects of chemicals on the environment. It is the job of a chemical engineer to manufacture a good quality of plastics, fuels, paper, paints, fertilizers, medicines and other kinds of chemicals.

The constantly changing scenario of the field makes chemical engineering a highly dynamic sector and, therefore, you may find abundant opportunities to learn new things. Even you might find yourself working in the field that was not there when you graduated.


Requisite skills and competencies

  • Excellent educational background
  • Mathematical acumen
  • Leadership qualities
  • Team player
  • Good communication skills
  • Scientific aptitude


Have a look on chemical engineering career outlook

Chemical engineering is a rewarding sector. There are abundant chemical engineering jobs available both in private and government sectors. In fact, a few years back, chemical engineers beat MBA students in terms of lucrative salaries, offered during recruitment drive. The median salary offered to a chemical engineer is around 4-5 lakh/annum.

Experience and skills greatly influence salary and after gaining 5-10 years of experience, one can easily draw Rs 10-20 lakh/annum along with other perks. Those with a master's or doctoral degree become eligible to draw even higher amount.

The salary which you will get also depends on job location. There are some Indian cities that are offering promising chemical engineering jobs; and therefore, more and more engineers prefer to work in these locations. In cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and New Delhi, engineers are drawing handsome amount.

Although the competition is strong in a chemical engineering sector, but it is a steady field. According to a leading job portal, there would be a stable job growth in the next few years and relatively low competition for available chemical engineering jobs.

Companies offering chemical engineering jobs-

  • Gujarat oils
  • Reliance industries
  • BPCL
  • Indo Gulf fertilizers
  • Coromandel fertilizers
  • Bengal Chemical and Pharmaceuticals
  • Orissa Drugs and Chemical Ltd
  • Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd
  • Larsen & Toubro
  • Aditya Birla Chemicals
  • Bihar Drugs and Organic Chemical Ltd
  • Hindustan Lever Limited
  • Dr. Reddy's Laboratories
  • Ranbaxy
  • Asian Paints

Where to look for chemical engineering jobs?

The chemical and petroleum are the traditional hubs for chemical engineers. There are other areas also where you can explore job opportunities-

  • Paper
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food
  • Electronics
  • Dairy
  • Plastics
  • Glass
  • Rubber

Moreover, in the recent years there is an increase in environmental concerns like waste reduction and biohazard, and as a result, there is a great demand in these areas also. Chemical engineering job opportunities are available with small and medium-sized enterprises also.

Different types of job roles

Your chemical engineering job role depends on the conglomeration of factors like experience, qualifications and interpersonal skills. The initial chemical engineering job roles which you can enjoy in respective of your education & qualifications are-

  1. Chemical Plant Operator- After doing diploma course, you can work as a chemical plant operator, where your work involves ensuring steady operations of different chemical plants and performing maintenance of the plant.
  2. Chemical Engineer- After completing your graduation, you can start your professional life as a chemical engineer, where you need to monitor different plant operations, assess plant & equipment performance and identify different ways to trigger efficiency and growth.
  3. Scientist- To get this job title, you may need to do a master's degree or PhD. Here the job involves developing new processes, identifying various opportunities to improve existing processes and developing new materials/applications. You can also pursue career in teaching and can work in the research center.

Top chemical engineering colleges in India-

  • All IITs
  • All NITs
  • Birla Institute of Technology and Science
  • National Institute of Technology
  • Thapar University
  • R.V College of Engineering
  • BMS College of Engineering
  • Sathyabama University
  • Amrita School of Engineering
  • Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology
  • Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology
  • Manipal Institute of Technology, Karnataka
  • M.V.J. College of Engineering
  • GMR Institute of Technology

Academic program

To get into BE/B.Tech in chemical engineering, the basic eligibility is 10+2 or an equivalent examination with Physics, Chemistry and Maths as main subjects. You can find both diploma or degree course in chemical engineering. Either you can go for three year diploma course after the 10th class or can take admission into a four year BE or B.Tech course, where the selection is made on the basis of marks obtained in 10+2 examination and Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), which is conducted by the IITs or All India Engineering Entrance Exam (AIEEE).

Different chemical engineering courses-

B. Tech in Chemical Technology
B.E / B.Tech in Chemical Engineering
B.E (Hons) Chemical Engineering
M.E Chemical Process Design
Ph. D in Chemical Engineering
Diploma in Chemical Engineering
Diploma in Petrochemical Technology
Diploma in Chemical Technology

An overview of engineering

Specialists in chemical engineering

Many chemical engineers prefer to choose a particular career path and develop a core area of expertise. Below are some of the popular areas of specialty that you can enjoy with a chemical engineering in hand-

  • Biochemical engineering= This sector primarily focuses upon chemical processes which are occurring naturally in animals and plants.
  • Food engineering= It is the job of a food chemical engineer to make crop diseases resistant and safe to consume.
  • Pharmaceutical engineering= Chemical engineers play an important role in designing and developing equipments that help in producing life-saving drugs.

Owing to the vast industrial expansion, the chemical engineering sector is poised to emerge as an immensely rewarding career option, not just financially but mentally too. There is a great rise in the demand of professionals in the field which is an indication of a prospering future ahead.


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