Chemical Engineering Technologist

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Chemical Engineering Technologist


It would be hard to imagine a world without gasoline, paper, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, plastics, synthetic fibers, paint, film or any other chemical products we use and demand in our daily lives. Whether it is bettering already existing products or creating new ones, we generally take these inventions of chemical engineering technology for granted. Yet the work accomplished by chemical engineering technologists has had an overwhelming impact on all of our lives.

Assisting the work of chemical engineers or working independently, chemical engineering technologists help develop processes, design equipment and provide technical and management services for plants and manufacturing companies that convert raw materials into a wide range of end products, like pharmaceuticals, food and fuels.

Chemical engineering technologists are constantly putting their creativity to work, synthesizing new materials, transforming combinations of elements of matter and developing the processes to do it all safely and efficiently. They help process and package many of the foods we eat, help power our cars and heat our homes and develop new materials from garbage. Did you know that burning garbage creates energy, which can be transformed into matter? Chemical engineering technologists are like alchemists; they try to turn raw materials into valuable products. They usually work under the guidance of chemical engineers and chemists to help create mechanisms and processes required to produce products.

Chemical engineering technologists often specialize in a particular area once they become established, including the environment or petrochemical refining. Nevertheless, they all perform the same general duties as chemical engineering technologists. They draft engineering drawings on the computer and help prepare operating specifications for industrial plants. They take into account safety and environmental concerns when conducting research and performing experiments. Therefore, they often work as quality control technologists as well, troubleshooting for potential problems.

They create rough engineering plans on computers using computer-aided design (CAD) systems, which simulate realistic three-dimensional models and test and predict possible errors and problems with a mechanism, generating workable solutions. Although most work takes place on computers or in laboratories, chemical engineering technologists sometimes travel to factories to supervise workers and assess the productivity of a factory.
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  Interests and Skills  
Chemical engineering technologists are analytical, creative and innovative thinkers with excellent problem solving skills. They have a natural affinity and aptitude for mathematics and science and can often visualize complex processes and design on computers. They possess excellent communication skills, both written and oral, and have the ability to work well in teams with people from various disciplines and backgrounds. They also possess the ability to pay close attention to details.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Generate computer-based process simulations and engineering drawings
  • Provide technical engineering support for technicians and factory workers
  • Troubleshoot problems and optimize operations
  • Evaluate and prepare regulatory applications that include safety and quality assurance
  • Redesign process equipment
  • Act as a liaison between plant engineering personnel and equipment suppliers
  • Prepare quotes and technical documents
  • Operate process control equipment and prepare cost estimates and construction schedules for production facilites
  • Gather plant operating data for design purposes
  • Conduct feasibility studies, environmental impact assessments and environmental audits, decommission facilities and site reclamation work
  • Assist in the design of new processes and production plants
  • Evaluate the economic and technical feasibility of modifying, replacing or installing new plant equipment
  • Troubleshoot and solve problems to maximize production
  • Chemical engineering technologists may work in office environments and travel to industrial plant facilities. In production environments, they may work in shifts. Their regular workweeks are about 40 hours, with occasional overtime.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Chemical engineering technologists may work in engineering offices, environmental consulting firms, sales offices, production facilities, the government and educational institutions. More specifically, they can be found at tar sand and heavy oil extraction plants, chemical, fertilizer and petrochemical production facilities, food processing companies, pulp and paper companies, technical sales organizations, and service and consulting firms.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Experienced chemical engineering technologists may advance to senior technical supervisor or staff supervisor positions. Some chemical engineering technologists take additional training and teach in technical institutes. Others work as technical writers or as salespersons for chemical products. With further education, they can become chemical engineers and teach at the postsecondary level.

  Educational Paths  
Completion of a two- or three-year college program in chemical engineering technology is usually required for chemical engineering technologists. A certification in chemical engineering technology or a related field is available through associations of engineering or applied science technologists and technicians, and may be required for some positions.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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