How do I Become a Chemical Plant Engineer?

Carol Francois

There are four items required to become a chemical plant engineer: post-secondary training, related work experience, passing the licensing examination, and completing the job interview process. A chemical plant engineer is a trained chemical engineer skilled in the development and design of mechanical structures surrounding chemical processing. The term chemical plant describes a large facility used to manufacture or process chemicals.

Students of chemical engineering degree programs often gain experience through internships at manufacturing plants.
Students of chemical engineering degree programs often gain experience through internships at manufacturing plants.

People who are detail-oriented, enjoy large, multifaceted projects, and have excellent problem-solving skills find this type of career rewarding. In this role, project management and engineering skills are important, as the primary task is to design or modify processes to convert raw materials into a usable product. This product can be a consumer good or a second stage chemical, sold to a manufacturing firm which then uses it to produce the final product.

The first step necessary to become a chemical plant engineer is to complete a post-secondary education program in chemical engineering. This professional program is four to five years in length and must be completed through an accredited university. A professional designation as an engineer (P.Eng) is required to work in this role. Additional courses and a written examination are required to obtain this professional designation.

Admissions to a chemical engineering degree program require high marks in high school calculus, algebra, chemistry, technology, and English courses. These programs are very competitive, with the best schools requiring personal essay, interviews, and references as part of the application process. The tuition fees to become a chemical engineer are higher than a bachelor of arts degree, as this is a professional program.

Work experience as an engineer is usually obtained through a job placement or internship program organized through the faculty of engineering. This is the only way to gain this level of experience before graduation. Related work experience includes working on the production floor of a chemical plant or any role in a manufacturing plant. Although the functions may differ, the work environment is very similar.

In order to become a chemical plant engineer, all engineers must complete the licensing examination organized by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying® (NCEES®). This association is responsible for issuing the professional engineer (P.Eng) designation in the United States. The process varies by state, but typically requires a written examination and verifiable work experience as an engineer.

During the job interview process to become a chemical plant engineer, take the time to prepare for the interview. Think of a list of standard interview questions and prepare your answers in advance. Take your time and answer all the questions to the best of your abilities.

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