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Article: Chemical and Biochemical Engineering


This article covers the following jobs:

  • Biochemical Engineer
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Chemical Plant Process Operator.

The job descriptions are only a brief summary. It is recommended that you do further research on jobs that interest you.


Chemical engineering is about changing raw materials, usually on a large scale, to make a huge variety of products that we need, want or depend on.

These include food and drink, fuels, artificial fibres, drugs, plastics and toiletries. Processing involves changing the chemical, biochemical or physical properties of substances to create useful products.

Chemical engineering places a great emphasis on the need to manage natural resources, recycle materials and protect the environment.

Biochemical engineering is an offshoot of chemical engineering. It applies chemical engineering principles to biological systems, for example, to develop and produce medicines, food and drink, and to manage waste products.

Some of the careers in this area

Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers understand how to change the chemical, biochemical or physical state of a substance to create a huge range of products that we find essential, useful or desirable, including food and drink, oil and gas, drugs and medicines, artificial fibres and plastics.

Chemical engineers design and operate the processes by which these products are developed, taking into account factors such as cost, safety and the need to protect the environment.

The usual requirement for this career is a relevant degree or HND, such as chemical engineering.

Biochemical Engineer

Biochemical engineering is an offshoot of chemical engineering. Biochemical engineers are concerned with the biological changes that can be very important in the production and processing of pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs, as well as the treatment of waste.

Biochemical engineers work in a wide range of areas, especially healthcare, nutrition, environmental protection and advanced chemicals. For example, they help to research and develop drugs and medicines, food processing techniques, and methods to protect and improve crops.

Biochemical engineers work in many organisations, including large healthcare, chemical, food and water companies.

The usual requirement for this career is a relevant degree or HND, such as biochemical engineering.

Chemical Plant Process Operator

Chemical plant process operators monitor the equipment and machinery used to make chemical products.

They are usually responsible for starting up and shutting down the control process. Once the process has begun, they check the meters, clocks and gauges that provide information on how the process is going.

They clean and prepare equipment, as well as measure out and prepare chemicals before adding them to reaction vessels. Chemical plant process operators often carry out simple maintenance tasks and adjust pumps and controls.

There is no formal academic entry requirement. Generally, employers want to see evidence of basic literacy and number skills, and may ask for GCSEs including Maths and a science, technology or engineering subject.

Further Information

Engineering Council

Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX

Tel: 020 3206 0500


Biochemical Society

Address: Charles Darwin House, 12 Roger Street, London WC1N 2JU

Tel: 020 7685 2400



Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)

Address: Davis Building, Railway Terrace, Rugby CV21 3HQ

Tel: 01788 578214




Publisher: Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)



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