Chemical Engineer Skills (With Tips And Responsibilities)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 August 2022 | Published 10 May 2022

Updated 28 August 2022

Published 10 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Chemical engineers use link chemistry and engineering to develop various industrial equipment. They convert raw materials into products like plastics, food, pharmaceuticals and other consumer goods. If you are interested in becoming a chemical engineer, it may be helpful to understand how to gain the necessary skills for this position. In this article, we describe what chemical engineer skills are, explore the skills chemical engineers typically have and review some steps to improve them.

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What Are Chemical Engineer Skills?

Chemical engineer skills help professionals apply the concepts of chemistry and engineering to solve varied problems. These professionals have technical skills, like evaluating chemical reactions and troubleshooting manufacturing processes and soft skills, like working with engineering teams and preparing safety protocols. With the help of these skills, a chemical engineer applies the principles of chemistry, physics and mathematics to build equipment and establish processes for large-scale chemical manufacturing.

The skills of a chemical engineer enable these professionals to plan and examine methods involved in manufacturing products and oversee the production. A skilled chemical engineer may specialise in a specific chemical process, like oxidation or polymerisation. Their many skills also help them determine the factors that affect the environment and the safety of human life.

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Examples Of Skills Of A Chemical Engineer

Here are some examples of chemical engineer skills:

Research skills

Research is a way of knowing or understanding something by gathering data from direct and indirect sources. Professionals with these skills are better informed and improve planning. These skills allow a chemical engineer to develop new ideas and understand them from different perspectives. Apart from establishing novel concepts, professionals use these skills to improve the ones that already exist. Having an analytical mind and possessing critical thinking abilities help you develop strong research skills.

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Design skills

Many chemical engineers design large-scale and complex chemical production facilities that supply varied chemical products. When professionals possess these skills, they design better chemical products and identify opportunities that generate profits. An efficient design process focuses on minimising environmental impacts and protecting human health. Designing is a broader skill set that requires a chemical engineer to apply the various concepts of science, mathematics and IT to achieve an efficient workflow.

Science skills

A chemical engineer possesses a solid understanding of scientific disciplines relevant to their work profile. They apply principles of chemistry, biology and physics to solve problems involving the production of various materials, like fuel, food products and pharmaceuticals. Observation, measurements, classification, experimentation and predictions are a few aspects of science skills. These skills also help the professional plan a hypothesis, manipulate scientific equipment and derive reasoning from data.

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Mathematics skills

Chemical engineers use several concepts of mathematics to solve complex problems. Using mathematics, professionals study thermodynamics, processes of chemical reactions, design and control better. With the help of mathematics, chemical engineers evaluate processing equipment, test instrumentation, collect data and assess process quality. Chemical engineering focuses on calculus, including partial differential equations, so it is essential for professionals to possess a good understanding of mathematics principles.

Computer skills

Computers are a great way to automate and simplify work processes. Chemical engineers employ their computer skills to work on certain computer programs and applications. They use these skills to analyse data and work on new designs. With proficiency in computers, a chemical engineer prepares computer models of large-scale chemical factories and runs detailed simulations of various parts of a factory, like a reactor. Possessing computer skills also helps them prepare strategies based on reasoned arguments and systematic procedures.

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Resource management skills

Resource management skills help a chemical engineer perform data management and business process management efficiently. These skills focus on the optimal allocation of different resources, like money, materials and workforce. When professionals possess these skills, they help their employer reduce costs and complete projects on time. Effective resource management involves planning, decision-making, organising, controlling and communicating. These skills help professionals address the effects of resources on internal and external stakeholders.

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Soft Skills For Chemical Engineers

Possessing soft skills may help you work cordially with your team members. These skills improve your chances of success in an organisation. Here are some soft skills you may review to find success in your chemical engineering career:

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills involve the communication of thoughts and ideas between two or more people. This interaction may be verbal or non-verbal. Working as a chemical engineer requires you to communicate with your colleagues, managers and team members frequently. As a chemical engineer, it is often necessary for you to coordinate with different project managers and departments. In a work environment, possessing strong interpersonal skills allows you to deal with the complexity and dynamics of day-to-day activities. These skills also involve your innate personality traits and how you handle social situations.

Decision-making skills

The Decision-making process involves steps like identifying the problem, collecting information, evaluating the alternatives, taking action and reviewing the decision. These skills play a crucial role in the success of a chemical engineer since their responsibilities often involve making important decisions. The decision-making process of a chemical engineer involves factors like cost, time and safety. This skill set helps a professional with an efficient delegation of work and improved outcomes. Some tough decisions may require them to overcome fear and nervousness.

Analytical skills

Analytical skills allow people to think critically and employ logic to solve complex problems. One of the routine tasks of a chemical engineer is to analyse data, processes and problems. With the help of these skills, they develop efficient strategies that help an organisation achieve its business goals. Working as a chemical engineer may require you to reason analytically on a basic level, while there may be times when you require a more complex skillset. Recognising cause and effect and discovering trends are two major elements of analytical skills.

Organisational skills

A chemical engineer's responsibilities involve organising several project files, delegate tasks and manage multiple schedules. When they possess organisational skills, their management delivers efficient results. Organisation involves time management, which they use for completing projects on time. These skills are a great way to monitor the various operational details and design new projects. Maintaining an orderly workspace, meeting deadlines and communicating well with your team are some essential elements of organisational skills.

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What Does A Chemical Engineer Do?

Developing chemical compounds across a variety of industries remains a primary job role of a chemical engineer. They apply the fundamentals of science to design products that make life easy for human beings. Chemical engineers handle a range of job duties, including:

  • Conducting and analysing research to develop improved manufacturing processes

  • Executing chemical analysis and physical property testing of materials and products

  • Formulate safety protocols for working with hazardous chemicals

  • Train the production teams to help them follow the safety protocols efficiently

  • Develop processes for working with liquid and gaseous chemicals

  • Assess controlled chemical processes in the development of new chemical products

  • Conduct tests to evaluate the performance of various operations throughout the production

  • Determine the challenges in the manufacturing process and troubleshoot them

  • Perform maintenance on equipment to ensure operations run safely and effectively

  • Establish project objectives to assess production costs and additional project expenses

  • Travel to worksites and locations to learn more about project needs and design

Tips For Chemical Engineers To Improve Their Skills

Here are some steps a chemical engineer may take to improve their skills:

Pursue a technical course

Pursuing a technical course is a great way to enhance your technical skills. A chemical engineer may consider enrolling in various courses, like process dynamics, microfluidics, separation processes, environmental science, molecular engineering and material management. These courses help you develop an in-depth knowledge of safety protocols, alternative energies and sustainable energy solutions. Technical courses offer you lessons on topics like harnessing energy, establishing food safety and solving complex manufacturing problems.

Follow recent developments

Learning about new technologies and breakthroughs in the field adds to your knowledge base. Being aware of these developments allows you to advance in your career and gain an advantage over the competition. Consider subscribing to professional journals, newsletters and attending events or seminars to meet like-minded professionals. This can help you learn from industry experts. You may also join groups on social media that focus on content related to chemical engineering.

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Learn different software

Learning to use different computer programs helps you better understand modelling, numerical analysis and simulation. Understanding these programs allows you to conduct efficient process and product synthesis, control and monitor complex processes, manage supply chain operations and develop data-driven methods to solve problems. Some of these programs may be generic, like artificial intelligence, simulation and data analysis, while others may be specific to the industrial process you work in.

Undergo industrial training

Undergoing industrial training is an effective method to gain first-hand experience in the chemical engineering field. If your organisation offers such training sessions, consider taking part in these sessions. There may be times when your company may conduct training for a new process or technology. Participating in such training programmes helps you develop essential skills for chemical engineering and possess knowledge of the latest trends in your industry.

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