Want to go into chemical engineering but not sure where it’ll take you? First, let’s talk about what chemical engineers do. Chemical engineers apply the principles of math and science to solve problems with products or processes, usually in an industrial setting. They optimize production processes, conduct trials and experiments, and improve control systems. Chemical engineers understand how the manufacturing process impacts product quality and cost, workplace safety, and the environment.
To become a chemical engineer, you will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Hands-on, practical experience (think co-ops and internships) and an interest in creative problem solving are also valuable as an engineer. While there are many opportunities in the pulp and paper industry for chemical engineers—and a high demand for their skills—here are three examples of careers that could be waiting for you as a chemical engineer!
Similar role titles: Process Development Engineer, Process Design Engineer
Average annual pay: $73,000 to upward of $135,000+
What You’d Do: Process Engineers are responsible for transforming raw materials into everyday products. They usually specialize in a particular process or product, such as nanomaterials, and its research, design, development, and implementation to optimize machinery or processes in the manufacturing industry.
- Adjust workflow processes for improved efficiency, quality and safety and to reduce environmental impact
- Conduct tests, monitor procedures, manage equipment and upgrades
- Lead and train others on processes, operations, and safety regulations
You could be a Process Engineer if… you believe there’s always a better way. Your improved processes and materials will make higher quality products, a safer workplace, and a cleaner environment.
Your career can make a global impact. Process Engineers can also become “Product Development Engineers” which is an impactful and highly in-demand career path. These engineers create new, more sustainably made paper and cellulose-based products to replace Styrofoam, plastic, and other harmful ingredients found in packaged goods and materials. Since consumer demand is increasing, engineers are needed to make a difference in the industry and the entire planet. Your work as a Product Development Engineer can help replace plastics!
Process Control Engineer
Similar role titles: Automation + Process Control Engineer
Average annual pay: $79,000 to upward of $140,000+
What You’d Do: Process Control Engineers design, test, troubleshoot, and implement new/retrofit existing processes in a manufacturing environment. They oversee the big picture of production through its hardware, software, instruments, and machinery components and strive to make every aspect of the production process reliable and extremely efficient.
Process Control Engineers:
- Identify problems before they occur and document solutions for improvements, maintenance, and efficiencies
- Analyze complex data for the design, configuration, and integration of processes
- Project management, frequent communication and detailed documentation of updated/new projects and procedures that affect all aspects of production
You could be a Process Control Engineer if… you believe that innovation exists in tandem with “the old ways.” Your work retrofitting machines and automating processes will save money, increase profits, and keep old parts and machinery in production and out of landfills.
Similar role titles: Service Engineer, Field Service Engineer
Average annual pay: $68,000 to upwards of $150,000+
What You’d Do: Sales/Service Engineers are incredibly knowledgeable of all equipment, chemicals and raw materials involved in a manufacturing process. They’re experts at troubleshooting, often using quantitative data to perform in-house and field testing, leading to the repair and preventative maintenance of equipment and products. They also use process audits and data analysis to recommend adjustments or additions of raw materials and additives that can both reduce cost and improve quality of products for their customers.
- Travel to facilities, act as a company liaison offering technical support and solutions
- Identify and fix product manufacturing issues; install, repair, and perform maintenance of equipment and evaluate chemical additive performance
- Review customer’s process and equipment and make recommendations for new or upgraded equipment, raw materials and/or chemicals for better efficiency and safety standards
You could be a Sales/Service Engineer if… you’re quick to find solutions on the fly. Your work as an engineer and subject-matter expert provides value beyond the sale of raw materials, chemical additives and equipment and is integral in building relationships between your colleagues, your company, and its customers and clients.
Being an engineer is a rewarding, challenging career path. Engineers must be collaborative and independent, rational and curious, but above all else must have a desire to solve problems that will make products, their workplace, and the world a much better place. As a chemical engineer, the pulp and paper has many lucrative job opportunities waiting for you!