Chemical Engineering vs Chemistry

Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers are involved in producing things like food and fuel. They typically work in manufacturing and research. They help determine how to improve the manufacturing process and their work can also be applied to producing drugs and chemicals.

Job responsibilities of a chemical engineer include:

  • Examining existing manufacturing processes
  • Exploring ways to improve manufacturing
  • Designing manufacturing equipment
  • Providing safety guidelines


In order to be eligible for entry-level positions as a chemist, a bachelor’s degree is required. Chemists need strong mathematical skills to make calculations and they spend a lot of time analyzing data based on their research. They primarily work indoors in laboratories and they are commonly employed in manufacturing or research. Their primary tasks involve performing experiments and assessing the data from their experiments. Their research may be used to develop new products or new ways of producing chemical compounds or they may focus on research that’s intended to increase our understanding of atoms and molecules.

Job responsibilities of a chemist include:

  • Preparing a research plan
  • Overseeing the work of technicians and others in their lab
  • Documenting their research
  • Sharing their conclusions with other professionals
  • Looking after laboratory equipment

Differences between Chemical Engineering & Chemistry

  • Although there is overlap between chemistry and chemical engineering, the courses you take, degrees, and jobs are quite different.
  • The big difference between chemistry and chemical engineering has to do with originality and scale. Chemists are more likely to develop novel materials and processes, while chemical engineers are more likely to take these materials and processes and upscale them to make them larger or more efficient.
  • ┬áChemists are the kings of lab analysis. They examine samples, develop new materials and processes, and often teach. Chemical engineers are the masters of industrial processes and plants.
  • Chemistry is science while chemical engineering is, well, engineering.
  • Chemists try to understand and explain the mechanism behind chemical reactions whereas engineers focus on designing/operating the processes to manufacture substances on a large scale.
  • A chemist won’t be trained on industrial equipment but that’s a necessity for an engineer.
  • Chemists usually work with grams and milliliters at a time. However, engineers work with cubic meters and tons.

Similarities between Chemical Engineering & Chemistry

Chemists and chemical engineers share some common basic duties. They are both involved in developing design plans when they are working on product development or manufacturing systems. Once they develop a plan they may build a prototype of the proposed equipment. They then perform tests to determine if their design works as intended and they may refine the design or make alterations to ensure it meets their objectives. Chemical engineers prepare project budgets and are usually more focused on the manufacturing process since their work involves improving how chemicals are produced and used in the production of other items. Chemists may produce products or alter existing products or perform research for the purpose of increasing knowledge. It’s common for them to summarize and present their research and findings to other professionals, including engineers.

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