Are you interested in becoming a chemical engineer? Have a read of our guide to studying chemical engineering at university.
Welcome back to our ‘Degrees in’ series, where we take a closer look at a degree subject. Last week we talked about all things Law, and today we are turning our focus to Chemical Engineering. You have probably heard of Chemistry, you might be studying it at school, but fewer people have heard of Chemical Engineering. In today’s article, we will discuss what Chemical Engineering is. As well as what it involves at university and what you can after university with a Chemical Engineering degree.
What is Chemical Engineering?
Chemical Engineering is a form of engineering; it is all about creating and building the products and materials we use every day. A chemical engineer completes these processes using chemicals, taking chemicals and converting them into useful matter. A lot of the work that chemical engineers do focuses on changing the chemical and physical state of something—for example, using substances such as oil, gas, plastic etc.
Chemical Engineering is also the field responsible for creating new materials used in cutting edge technology. For example, in the production of renewable energies or sustainable food sources. You might be working in the food and drink industry, makeup and cosmetics, plastics, water or even pharmaceuticals.
Chemical Engineering is a very practical subject at university, and you will spend lots of your time in the labs demonstrating the skills you need to be a chemical engineer. Some of the modules you may study include cell biology, chemical reactions, material sciences and process design. Further, it’s essential that chemical engineers also understand health and safety and budgeting for projects.
Why study Chemical Engineering?
One of the biggest reasons that people choose to study Chemical Engineering at university is because it’s a highly employable degree subject, which focuses on careers from the very beginning. As mentioned previously, chemical engineering students spend a lot of time in the lab practising the skills they need to work in the field. As well as this, much of the teaching is centred around working in the industry. This makes Chemical Engineering a unique subject, as many other graduates leave university with much less insight into the world of work.
Furthermore, lots of university courses in Chemical Engineering offer a year in industry. This means that students take a year out of their degree, usually three years in, to work in the industry. This opportunity gives you invaluable experience in working as a chemical engineer.
Chemical Engineering is also a popular subject because it covers such a broad array of knowledge and skills. As well as the fundamentals of chemistry, chemical engineers learn about biochemistry, material science, economics and health and safety.
Careers as a Chemical Engineer
Unlike some degree subjects, most Chemical Engineering graduates go on to work directly in the engineering and building profession. This is most likely due to the employability focus of the degree. Most chemical engineers work for businesses that work in the large-scale conversion of materials, usually in nuclear energy, gas and oil and pharmaceuticals.
Those who do not want to work as a chemical engineer can use their skills in other related professions such as IT, materials technicians, finance, software engineering or manufacturing.
To discover more graduates career paths, visit our dedicated guide.