Chemical engineers in research and development (R&D) are responsible for researching, developing, and applying necessary chemical processes to create a wide range of items for both commercial and industrial uses. Most jobs in this field focus on researching and developing chemicals, as well as methods for producing and testing them, and using industry-specific software tools to judge the quality of methods and results of chemical development.
Many chemical process engineers are also responsible for managing laboratories, conducting audits, ensuring compliance to required specifications, and handling and removing occasionally-hazardous waste products. These engineers work primarily in laboratories on a full-time basis with overtime as necessary. Some chemical production companies work around-the-clock, allowing engineers to work shifts other than the traditional nine-to-five.
As they gain experience, chemical engineers may advance into management or other roles in which they take on more responsibilities, including employee development, maintaining legal safety and health requirements, and following standards in place for environmental protection. While many, if not most, entering the field receive some level of training from their employers, a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or chemical/process engineering may be required for this position, and some employers may prefer those who have a master’s degree.
Chemical Engineer, Research & Development (R&D) Tasks
- Optimize day-to-day processes while considering environmental and supply variables.
- Maintain engineering documentation, with emphasis on compliance with engineering codes and standards.
- Oversee production environment, and track metrics like temperature, flow rate and electricity usage.
- Propose, design, and oversee solutions for chemical process issues.