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Brian Nelson
Mrs. Karen Kidd
English 12
15 January 2015
Chemical Engineering
Everyone has wondered what they will do when they grow up. From careers, to life goals,
people consider what they will do in the future. For me, a career that may be of interest is
chemical engineering. This is a career that fits me and my interests quite well. I will be
describing the history and background of this career, the requirements to obtain a position in this
field, the tasks performed by a person in this position, and I will reflect on how difficult it would
be to obtain a job in this career, and how well it would fit me.
Chemical Engineering is an old career. People have been manipulating chemicals to help
improve society for a long time. Its heritage dates from the fermentation and evaporation
processes operated by early civilizations. (Hanson). The career began to develop in the 1800s
when large plants began producing chemicals. The first textbook on the subject of chemical
engineering was published in 1901 by George E. Davis (Hanson). This helped to solidify and
define the job. Other chemical engineers, like Arthur D. Little, helped to define the career as
chemical processing plants developed and grew throughout the country (Hanson). World War II
changed the way chemical engineering was done, at a basic level. The reasons for why things
worked the way they did was studied more closely. When digital computers became more
common, the work became easier because fewer calculations had to be performed by hand.

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As you may expect, this career requires a college education. A bachelors degree in chemical
engineering is needed. Programs usually take 4 years to complete and include classroom,
laboratory, and field studies (Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chemical Engineer). Although, some
schools do offer a 5 year program to get a masters in chemical engineering. (Bureau of Labor
Statistics: Chemical Engineer). Besides a degree in chemical engineering, some work experience
is also very beneficial.
Someone could even start preparing to a chemical engineer in high school. They should
take science courses in all categories, and upper level math classes (Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Chemical Engineer). To be a chemical engineer you should have an aptitude towards math and
science, as well as have good problem solving skills.
In a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they talk about six important qualities a
chemical engineer should have. They are: analytical skills, creativity, ingenuity, interpersonal
skills, math skills, and problem-solving skill (Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chemical Engineer).
These are all valuable attributes for a chemical engineer and someone in going into any field.
They need to be able to think things through, solve problems, and understand the cause of those
problems. They also need to be able to work well with other people and solve problems as a
The college I plan on attending, Brigham Young University, offers a major in chemical
engineering. The course objectives for this major include things like applying principles of
chemical engineering, as well as math and other science courses. The program is open to all
students who attend BYU. Besides offering a bachelors degree, they also offer masters and
doctorate programs in chemical engineering (Lewis).

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As a chemical engineer, there are a few things that a person would do every day. From
things like doing research to improve manufacturing processes to estimating production costs
(Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chemical Engineer). Chemical engineers translate the discoveries
chemists make into real-world products. If a chemist invents a better fertilizer, for example, a
chemical engineer might design the method to make mass production of that fertilizer possible
(The Princeton Review: Chemical Engineering). So a chemical engineer doesnt create new
products, instead they apply the discoveries of chemists to society. They help to create
production plans for chemicals, and work to minimize costs of producing those chemicals.
Chemical engineers work full-time. Chemical engineers work mostly in offices or
laboratories. They may spend time at industrial plants, refineries, and other locations, where they
monitor or direct operations or solve onsite problems (Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chemical
Engineer). This goes along with the idea that chemical engineers dont create new chemicals, but
instead help to produce things and solve production problems. They work in laboratories creating
these processes, then they go and see how the production is going at the plant where the process
they designed is being applied. They solve problems on site and help things to go more smoothly.
Chemical engineers are paid well. The median annual wage for chemical engineers was
$94,350 in May 2012 (Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chemical Engineer). This shows that the
average chemical engineer makes more than $94,000 a year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also
said that the top 10% made more than $154,840. They also compared the salaries of chemical
engineers to the median salary of all occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
the average annual wages for all occupations is $34,750. Chemical engineering is significantly
higher than the median for all occupations (Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chemical Engineer). This
makes chemical engineering an attractive career option at least salary wise. Besides being paid

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well, chemical engineers receive benefits such as stock options or profit-sharing awards
(Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chemical Engineer).
Although the pay for chemical engineers is good, the job outlook isnt quite as high. The
predicted growth of chemical engineering between 2012 and 2022 is only a 4 percent increase.
The normal outlook for growth of a career is at 11 percent (Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chemical
Engineer). This puts chemical engineering well below the average. Though the growth isnt
expected to be very high, chemical engineering is expanding into other fields as technology
progresses (Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chemical Engineer). The bureau of Labor Statistics also
said job prospects between 2012 and 2022 should be good, because many chemical engineers
will be reaching retirement age. Overall, I think the outlook for becoming a chemical engineer is
pretty good in the United States.
Chemical engineers do things that are large part of modern society. They help to get
useful products mass produced for the benefit of everyone. They work to do this efficiently to
help protect the environment. Their work is a major contribution to society and the things people
use every day. Without chemical engineers, processing plants wouldnt be working to create
things in a clean and environmentally friendly way.
This career is very important to our society. By helping to create valuable products in a
clean and efficient way, everyone is able to benefit. This career would be a good way for a
person to apply themselves to help others, but still be compensated well for it. They are paid
well, but do important work.
I think this would be a good career for me. I have an aptitude for math and science, and I
have done well through high school. I am planning on going to college, so it wouldnt change my

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plans there, and I would make a good salary with decent benefits. The job outlook is pretty good,
and it seems there wouldnt be much travelling involved. They may need to occasionally go to a
processing plant to help solve some onsite problems, but otherwise they would work in an office
or a laboratory for most of the time. Overall, I think chemical engineering would be a good
career for me.

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Works Cited
Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chemical Engineer. 8 January 2014. Web Page. 23
December 2014.
Hanson, Carl. Encyclopedia Britannica: Chemical Engineering. 12 December 2013.
Encyclopedia Page. 23 December 2014.
Lewis, Randy S. Brigham Young University List of Majors. n.d. Catalog. 23 December
The Princeton Review: Chemical Engineering. n.d. Web Page. 23 December 2014.