Careers in Chemical and Biological Engineering

Sara Diericks_Mission and Vision

Engineering is a career path that works! In particular, chemical engineers design plant equipment and devise processes for manufacturing chemicals and products by applying principles and technology of chemistry, physics, and engineering. More than 32,000 chemical engineers work in the U.S. today. The average starting salary for a chemical engineering Bachelor’s degree graduate is more than $65,000. Master of Science degree graduates typically make a starting salary of about $72,000. Better yet, recent doctoral graduates make a median salary of about $93,000 their first year. These starting salaries are based on a 2012 American Chemical Society survey.

The specific responsibilities of chemical engineers, though they may vary among industries and even within the same company, can be categorized in general terms for most industries. Some typical job descriptions are listed below.

  • Process Design Engineer – Designs manufacturing facilities and the equipment and material used inside.
  • Environmental Engineer – Develops techniques to reduce and recover usable materials from waste created during product manufacture.
  • Plant Process Engineer – Provides technical support and troubleshoots processes in a production facility.
  • Process Safety Engineer – Designs and maintains plants and processes that are safer for workers and communities.
  • Project Engineer – Oversees the design and construction of specific processes in a facility.
  • Research & Development Engineer – Seeks out new and efficient ways of producing existing products. Explores and develops new processes and products.
  • Attorney – Specializes in intellectual property, patent law, environmental compliance and safety issues.
  • Biomedical Engineer – Works to develop artificial organs and to develop new treatments for human diseases.
  • Technical Manager – Manages people, research programs and daily operations of the engineering functions.
  • Professor – Instructs students in the field of chemical engineering and conducts research in pertinent areas.
  • Quality Control Engineer – Monitors the manufacture of a product to ensure that it meets specifications. Also, tests materials to determine how they perform over time.
  • Technical Services Engineer – Works with customers, usually on-site, to solve production problems caused by a specific process or machine.

Biological Engineers

Biological engineering is an interdisciplinary application of engineering principles to analyze biological systems and to solve problems in plant, animal or microbial systems. In the biotech age, chemical engineering is critical to expand the benefits of biotech research. The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Iowa State allows students to expand their knowledge of chemical engineering into the biochemical realm. In the biotech age, you can be a part of shaping the future with a degree in chemical engineering from Iowa State University.

Typical job descriptions in biological engineering include, but are not limited to:

  • Biomedical Engineer – apply engineering, biology and biomechanics principles to design, develop and evaluate biological health systems, including artificial organs, prostheses, instrumentation, medical information systems, health management and care delivery systems
  • Engineer – Cell Culture – Perform hands-on cell culture experimentation and write technical reports and protocols
  • Computational Biology Programmer – Design and implement web-based software to view and analyze a variety of biological datatypes, including genome sequences, genome features, microarrays, regulons and other experimental data

Iowa State chemical engineering graduates

Iowa State University Engineering Career Services provides students valuable resources in career planning.

Chemical engineering graduates are in high demand. Nearly all students with engineering related work experience have jobs within just a few months after graduation.

The consistent high quality of the chemical engineering program gives Iowa State an excellent reputation among industry leaders. Our graduate success speaks our praises.

  • 86 percent of graduates have co-op/intern or summer experience
  • 80 percent of graduates have international education or work experience
  • 98 percent of all graduates are placed in career jobs within six months after graduation

Our alumni have attained eminence not only as practicing engineers, but also as corporate leaders, professors and educators (more than 60 alumni hold faculty positions in chemical engineering or related fields nationally and internationally), inventors, attorneys and medical doctors.

Our graduates have traveled far and wide – they have founded start-up companies and worked for companies, from the smallest to the world’s largest.