Choosing Between Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering

Posted on February 17, 2021  Comments (0)

Chemical engineering and bioengineering, also called biomedical engineering, overlap in some areas because they both create new technology and innovations for the healthcare industry. However, the two disciplines are very different. Here is a comparison of the two careers to help you choose the one that would be best for you.

What Does a Chemical Engineer Do?

A chemical engineer uses science to find solutions to problems, such as manufacturing issues for a food company. They can also work for pharmaceutical, chemical, science, petroleum, coal, oil, gas, trade, manufacturing and other companies.

They usually work in a laboratory or office setting. Sometimes they have to work in an industrial or chemical plant. Some chemical engineers work in the field, such as a refinery. The daily tasks of a chemical engineer can vary, but they usually include research and testing. They may develop new chemicals products, or they may create and test equipment.

photo of a chemical engineering lab setup

Sometimes chemical engineers can solve important problems that affect different aspects of people’s lives. For example, Líney Árnadóttir is a chemical engineering associate professor who studies chemical processes on different surfaces to try to uncover how and why materials degrade.

Árnadóttir and other researchers used supercomputers to study chloride’s role in corrosion. Chemical engineers sometimes use technology, such as the supercomputers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center and the Texas Advanced Computing Center, to do their work and solve problems. By understanding how chloride affects materials like steel, the researchers can help companies, manufacturers and the environment deal with corrosion better.

What Is Bioengineering?

Bioengineering is a field that uses engineering to study and design biomedical technology and systems. A bioengineer usually works in healthcare. They frequently make new medical devices, equipment, software, computer systems and other products to help people.

Bioengineers can create new laboratory machines to diagnose medical problems or artificial organs to replace the ones in a person. It is possible for a bioengineer to find work in a laboratory, research center, manufacturing facility, hospital or university. Some bioengineers work for large companies and help them develop new products.

Every time you go to a doctor’s office or hospital you are seeing examples of bioengineering. When you need an MRI or CT scan, you are using technology built by bioengineers. If you need a hip replacement or a new knee, you are also benefiting from the designs created by bioengineers.

What Type of Qualifications Does Each Require?

In addition to studying engineering and chemistry, a chemical engineer must study math, biology and physics. As a student, you may have to study science topics like engineering computation or chemical engineering thermodynamics. A strong science and math background is important for becoming a chemical engineer. Many pursue a master’s degree after their bachelor’s degree.

A chemical engineer has to be a good problem solver. They have to look at a process or design and figure out how to make it work. They also have to fix it and figure out why it is not working when problems develop. Creativity is essential for this career.

A bioengineer must study engineering, biology and medical science. Additional topics studied by bioengineers include: genetics, computational biology and cell biology. Bioengineers will also must study math and other subjects during college. Many choose to pursue a master’s in biomedical engineering after earning their bachelor’s.

2 bioengineers with plants under pink light

It is important for bioengineers to have a good understanding of the human body and healthcare. They often work with medical devices, so they have to know how people will use them and benefit from them. A good background in biology is helpful for anyone pursuing this field.

Salary Expectations

In general, engineering is considered to be one of the higher paying career fields that you can choose. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shares that a typical chemical engineer earns $108,770 per year or $52 per hour. Some earn more depending on the field they work in, such as manufacturing or petroleum.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists $91,410 per year or $44 per hour as the typical salary for a bioengineer. There you work can affect how much you earn, and those in academic settings tend to earn less.

For example, if you compare job listings for bioengineers in larger companies to smaller ones or academic centers, you will see difference in pay. Bigger businesses tend to pay more and have higher bonuses for new workers.

If you are considering a career in chemical engineering or bioengineering, both require a strong background in science and math. However, there are differences between the two career paths that are worth exploring. The key is to find a career that fulfills you while providing a good salary and daily work environment.

Photos from This is Engineering

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