Chemical products are everywhere in today’s life. From the motor oil that makes your hands dirty, to the soap that cleans them. For this reason, there are countless chemical jobs available all across the globe. The goal of this article is to explain the professional figures in the chemical sector.
In this article I will:
- Give an overview of the jobs available in the chemical sector
- Describe main chemical jobs in detail in terms of roles, skills and employment conditions
- Chemical Process Engineering jobs
- Chemist jobs
- Chemical technician jobs
- Warehouse, material handling and logistics jobs
- Safety officer and other safety jobs
- Tell you about entrepreneurship in the chemical sector
- The success story of Mesgo, a rubber production market leader
Chemical jobs: the most common positions
The chemical sector offers great employment opportunities all over the world. It doesn’t matter where you’re based, there’s always a chemical company hiring around the corner. So, update your CV and Cover Letter to be ready for your next career step.
The chemical industry offers jobs for people with any level of education and experience.
In this section, I will present the most important professional figures in the chemical sector and their employment conditions. In addition, I will give you an overview of the education required to be successful in such roles.
Chemical process engineering jobs
Engineering jobs are the top technical jobs. Typical roles for engineers in the chemical sector are developing and researching new products, leading and optimizing the production and developing new processes. It’s also not uncommon for engineers to take over managerial roles in the company.
Is chemical engineering really your idea career? Discover it with the best free career quiz!
Chemical process Engineer
What is a process engineer? A chemical process engineer is responsible for developing and optimizing the company’s (production) processes. Basically, a chemical process engineer uses a mix of technical, managerial and data analysis skills to ensure that the company produces efficiently. On top of it, a chemical process engineer must ensure that processes are safe and comply with industry regulations. So a chemical process engineer needs to know all about production, machinery, chemistry and work organization.
Chemical process engineering jobs are quite different from design engineering jobs (for example a Software Engineer ). In fact, a chemical process engineer will interface much more with external parties. A chemical process engineer will go to industry fairs and conferences to stay up to date on the last processes but will also interact a lot with production. A chemical process engineer is also in close contact with all other departments in the company. He/she will talk with operators and technicians to identify bottlenecks in the factory. He will also interact with management to discuss budgets and possibly new acquisitions.
Chemical process engineer: required skills
You couldn’t be more wrong if you’re thinking that a chemical process engineer is not a “real” engineer because he doesn’t develop a new product. Chemical process engineering is all about developing and optimizing a product. This product is the full production line, from the raw materials to the final product. This includes all the machinery used in production. Also, really good modelling and data analysis skills are needed to succeed as a chemical process engineer. So no worries, you will still use math and chemistry, just you will combine this with general management and soft skills. Now that you know the answer to the question “what is chemical engineer”, let’s have a look at the employment conditions for these chemical jobs.
Job conditions for chemical process engineers
Let’s get straight to the point, process engineers are really well paid and this gets even better. You would be amazed at seeing a senior process engineer salary. Chemical process engineers are among the highest paid engineering professionals. In the US, reaching a six figure salary is really easy for a process engineer. Also all the top countries to work in Europe offer great salaries for process engineers. In particular, the senior process engineer salary is well above the average in engineering. The senior process engineer salary in sectors such as Oil&Gas and Pharma is often above 120k dollars (in the US).
In terms of formal education, the minimum requirement is a BS in engineering. Process chemical engineering is surely the best subject, but also mechanical process engineers can usually be great process engineers. A MS or PhD is not really required for process engineering jobs, but it can surely help.
For what concerns skills, on top of the hard skill that I previously mentioned, soft skills are essential. You need to be a good communicator and a confident leader to succeed in chemical process engineering.
Day in the life of a Chemical Engineer
When discussing chemical jobs, the terms process engineer, chemical engineer and chemical process engineer are usually interchangeable.
So, how is a day in the life of a chemical engineer?
It might sound like a standard reply, but there is no such a thing as a normal day in the life of a chemical engineer. In fact, chemical process engineering is such a variegated field that two chemical process engineers could be doing a completely different daily job. For example, one could be focusing on data analysis to improve the production process of an established pharmaceutical company, while the other one could be developing a new production plant to process gas.
A day in the life of a chemical engineer could be anything between conducting data analysis on a laptop to work on the miniaturized prototype of a new production plant in a laboratory. Your tasks as a chemical process engineer could also change a lot within the same job position. It is typical for a chemical engineer to work on different phases of a project.
Different phases in the chemical process engineering work are:
- R&D to develop a new production process
- Working with suppliers and other third parties to select machinery for the production process
- Testing and integrating the new production process
- Optimizing of the production process
- Process continuous improvement
- Upgrading the production process
- Dismantling the production process
So every day in the life of a chemical engineer can be different. If you like variation and challenges in your job, chemical process engineering is your sector!
Chemist jobs are other top chemical jobs. There is a lot of confusion about the differences between a chemist and a chemical engineer. The difference can be explained as follows:
A chemical process engineer works on the industrial production process (machinery, production line, work optimization, production process design) to produce the product, usually in bulk. A chemist works on the development of chemical products.
So, generally speaking, a chemist works in the lab, a process engineer in an office or in the factory. A chemist needs to have more specialized knowledge in chemistry, but does not need to know much about machinery and stakeholder management. In fact, the most important skills for a chemist are chemistry hard skills. A chemist needs to be able to know how to synthesize a product, how to analyze it and finally how to develop and test new products.
A chemist loves to spend a lot of time in the laboratory doing experiments and developing new products. He/she is also constantly in contact with academia to stay up to date on new developments. Chemist is a research and development job, so patents are often involved in the job of a chemist.
Chemist jobs exist at very different levels but for the top R&D jobs, a MS is usually the minimum qualification. When a product requires specific knowledge, a PhD might be required. For what concerns salaries, chemists usually earn really well, but less than process engineers. Typical salaries for chemists are around 60k dollars per year. A few chemists with the right experience and qualifications can reach a salary of 100k dollars.
Chemical technician jobs and operators
It doesn’t matter how automated the chemical industry will get, there will always be operational and chemical technician jobs
People in chemical technician jobs usually perform chemical analysis under the guidance of the chemist. Chemical technicians often also troubleshoot issues and help the process engineer in the daily work. Usually, a chemical technician has an associate degree or went to a vocational school. If a technician is dealing with complex chemical compounds, a BS degree might be required. Chemical technician salaries vary a lot depending on industry, experience, and complexity of the product. The chemical technician salary for an inexperienced person in a low paying sector working on a very simple product can be as low as 25k a year. The chemical technician salary for an extraordinary employee working in shifts in a multinational Oil&Gas company on a very complex product can reach 100k dollars. You can find the details of a chemical technician salary on Glassdoor or PayScale
Chemical operators operate machines to follow the processes defined by the process engineer. They are responsible for producing the chemical compounds. Chemical operators are usually more skilled than operators in other sectors. In fact, they need to operate very complex machinery and also understand IT systems. Operator’s salaries in the chemical sectors are well above average, but operators are also often asked to work night shifts. In fact, chemical processes usually run 24/7.
Warehouse, material handling and logistics jobs
Material handling is critical in the chemical industry. In fact, the chemical industry is dealing with hazardous products that require particular attention when handled. The full handling process needs to follow strict regulations, which means that there also logistic jobs requiring specialization and high qualified personnel. It is not uncommon to have people with college degrees working in logistic jobs in the chemical industry.
Safety officers and other safety jobs
Let’s face it, the chemical industry is among the most hazardous industries in the world. For this reason, there are a lot of safety related jobs waiting for you in the chemical industry. The most common safety job is a safety officer. Safety officers are responsible for the safety of employees, machines and the people around the chemical plant. In the US, a typical salary for a chemical safety officer is anywhere between 40 and 60k. If a safety officer is working in a particularly hazardous production plant, the salary could get even higher.
The success story of Mesgo, a chemical company
I just explained the job opportunities in the chemical sector. However, employment is not the only option. In fact, starting your own company can be a great alternative to employment. The internet is full of guides trying to explain how you can start a successful company. I believe that the story of each company is different and there is no universal recipe on how to start a successful company.
Today I will tell you the successful and inspiring story of Mesgo. This can be an inspiration for you to start your own chemical company.
Mesgo is a successful chemical company producing among others: synthetic rubber, natural rubber compounds silicon and fluoro-carbon compounds.
Why is Mesgo a successful company? Because the company was only founded in 1996 and already in the top 8 most important companies in the silicone market as of today.
The road of Mesgo’s success started in Castelli Calepio, a village around Bergamo, Italy, where back in 1996, Mesgo started producing rubber compounds. Few years later, Mesgo started producing silicone products and expanded by building another production plant, still around Bergamo.
The first adventure of Mesgo outside Italy happened in 2005 when it opened a subsidiary company in Poland to conquer the Eastern European market. In 2014, Mesgo expanded further by opening a subsidiary in Istanbul to be closer to the Asian market.
During its successful years, Mesgo took over a few companies to expand its business. In 2018, Mesgo joined Hexpol group to accelerate its growth in the chemical industry.
Are you fascinated with the story of Mesgo? You can read more on their website