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Can chemical engineers work in the food and agriculture industry?

I have read that most chemical engineers work in the oil and gas industry, but I don't really want to work in that industry. My dream is to work in the food and agriculture industry. I would like to create fertilizers or new formulas for food. So can chemical engineers work in this industry or is that a completely different career? #engineer #chemical-engineer #science #stem #stemcareers #engineering #agriculture #food

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Catherine’s Answer

Hi Jade!

I'm not a chemical engineer myself, but my roommate and mom both are! My roommate works at Clorox which owns brands, such as Hidden Valley Ranch and Natural Vitality (vitamin brand), and my mom has received offers from places like the Food and Drug Administration where she would have been working on food products.

After a Google search, I noticed that many companies looking for "Food Process Engineers" or "Project Engineers - Food Manufacturing" are looking for people with chemical engineering degrees. The job descriptions seem to align with your goal of developing new formulas for food and working with fertilizers. In addition, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers has an article about exactly what you're asking about! https://www.aiche.org/community/students/career-resources-k-12-students-parents/what-do-chemical-engineers-do/enhancing-food-production. I would definitely give this a read because it speaks directly about what chemical engineers are doing in the field of food production!

Good luck!

- Cathy

Catherine recommends the following next steps:

Read https://www.aiche.org/community/students/career-resources-k-12-students-parents/what-do-chemical-engineers-do/enhancing-food-production
Look up job postings regarding chemical engineers in the food industry and see if those job descriptions match your goals

Thank you so much! jade M.

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Dada’s Answer

Hi Jade ,

Gastronomy is quite a unique one and mostly ponders upon chemistry, physics & evaluation, also not to forget "Mycology" & "Flavour Chemist"

I believe it applies to more of " Processed Food & Canned Food " to check the ratio of preservatives and other chemicals being added as ingredients in a sense .

So , Yes you have lot to explore Jade becoming a "Food Scientist" in true sense .

Below is a link for you get even more information.


All the Best Jade !

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Rebecca’s Answer

Chemical engineering is one of those nebulous fields that's hard to get someone to give a good answer to "So, what is it that Chemical Engineers do?" But, you're right that traditionally, a lot of chemical engineers have gone on to have careers in Oil & Gas. However, they go on to have successful careers in just about every other industry as well!

I majored in chemical engineering and would still have trouble giving a single job description for ChemE's. A few of my classmates went on to careers in Oil & Gas, some went to work for food & beverage companies, some pursued PhDs (one even got his PharmD!), some went into green energy, one is a nutritionist now, and I've worked in three different industries (consumer packaged goods, automotive, and now software). So, if you want to work in agriculture or food science, that's definitely possible with a background in chemical engineering.

One of the easiest roles to get as a new chemical engineering grad in just about any field is as a "process engineer," which is not so much focused on the research & development side of things. That's not to say it's impossible to land a job in R&D right out of college - in fact, my first job title was as a "scientist" where I was running research trials for absorbent material - you'll just have to be a bit more purposeful with your job search.

Chemical engineering is a rigorous program and often considered one of the toughest majors but it's also been the reason I've gotten every single one of my jobs (people assume you're smart because you finished a "hard" degree, even if it's not related to the job you'll be doing). So, given your aspirations, I'd say chemical engineering is a good choice for a major. And, it also opens a lot of doors for you if you ultimately change your mind and decide to pursue a career in a different industry as well.

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Sam’s Answer

I have several friends of mine who are chemical engineers that work for Frito Lay in the Dallas area. The food and beverage industry has a need for chemical engineers especially in the beverage industry. The beverage industry often research and test different combinations before settling on a definite formula for new beverages or updating an existing beverage. The snacks industry uses chemical engineers in developing or updating snacks. Even more chemical research is needed when creating or developing healthy snacks.