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What does a Chemical Engineer do?

Chemical engineers work in a variety of industries, including pharmaceuticals, health care, food processing, biotechnology, as well as industries that address environmental health and safety. Regardless of the specific industry, chemical engineers rely on their knowledge of chemistry, physics, biology and biochemistry. This, combined with their understanding of mathematics and economics, enables them to address the issues that affect the production and use of goods such as our food, fuel and pharmaceuticals. As a chemical engineer, you may be involved in improving food processing techniques, developing new fertilizers or constructing synthetic fibers for clothing. Chemical engineers are also active in the development of solutions for public health hazards, such as pollution control.

chemical engineer

In short, a chemical engineer uses their knowledge, training and skills to improve the world around us. They play a vital role in improving public health and safety, as well as developing new processes and products that advance the economy.

Work Environment

The field of chemical engineering is very broad and will include several different kinds of work environments. Most chemical engineers will work out of an office or a laboratory. However, they may also be active on industrial plants and refineries. In these environments, a chemical engineer will supervise production and operations, addressing issues and concerns as they arise.

How Can I Become A Chemical Engineer?

In order to become a chemical engineer, you must first acquire a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering. Your coursework will include chemistry, biology, and advanced mathematics such as calculus and statistics. Because a chemical engineer works with a lot of different people in several different industries, communication skills are also important. Classes that pertain to developing written and oral communication are well-suited for someone interested in the field of chemical engineering. Beyond this, your studies will largely be influenced on what area of chemical engineering you are interested in.

Chemical engineers play an important role in the development of our economy, as well as the health and safety of the public. They are an intricate part in a large number of industries, from the production of synthetic fibers to the processes that guarantee food safety.

What does a Forensic Pathologist do?

Sudden, unexplained, or suspicious deaths are usually subject to a criminal investigation. Forensic pathologists play an important role in that investigation by helping to explain how and why a person has died.

forensic pathologist

What are the typical responsibilities of a forensic pathologist?

A forensic pathologist is responsible for determining the cause of death when a person dies in suspicious or unusual circumstances. They perform an autopsy or post mortem examination and produce a report that contains details about what has caused the person’s death plus conclusions about the circumstances that have lead to their death based on the interpretation of his or her findings.

A forensic pathologist’s job typically involves some or all of the following:

  • Conducting a full anatomical examination of a body after death
  • Documenting all findings of the examination
  • Highlighting any injuries or diseases that could have resulted in the person’s death
  • Recording the professionals’ opinions about how the identified injuries or diseases have occurred
  • Determining the manner of death: accidental, homicide, natural causes, suicide, or undetermined
  • Determining the identity of the deceased
  • Collecting or photographing evidence such as injuries, bodily tissues or fluids, and fibers or other materials that could be used to determine the circumstances of the person’s death and that may be required as part of a legal investigation
  • Testifying or acting as a witness in a court of law, where the forensic pathologist may be required to explain evidence or findings to non-medical personnel and defend his or her conclusions

In this career, you may often work closely with colleagues in other areas of forensics such as medicine, dentistry, toxicology, and entomology to help them to carry out a thorough examination and draw fully informed conclusions. You are also likely to work closely with legal and criminal investigation personnel, and need to have a detailed understanding of legal processes.

What qualifications do forensic pathologists need?

Forensic pathologists are medically trained professionals (M.D.s) who have completed several years’ training after graduating from medical school. Their additional training takes the form of a residency in anatomical pathology or a combined anatomical and clinical pathology residency plus a fellowship in forensic pathology. This can take a total of up to 16 years: 4 years of undergraduate school, 4 years of med school, and between 3 and 8 years of internship and residency.

Forensic pathologists are usually employed by Federal, State or local government.

Salaries for physicians and surgeons are among the highest of any occupation in the U.S. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This indicates the level of financial reward for those who have committed the necessary time and energy to such an intriguing and multi-faceted career.

What does a Forensic Science Technician do?

Forensic science technicians help investigators solve crimes by collecting and analyzing physical evidence from crime scenes. Popular criminal detection series like NCIS and CSI have helped bring this very important job field to the forefront of public consciousness. In forensic labs, trained technicians use measuring and testing instruments, incorporating the latest computer technology to thoroughly analyze trace evidence from crime scenes. Forensic science technicians can:

  • Examine hair, blood and tissue samples
  • Test firearms and ballistic evidence
  • Analyze fibers, pieces of glass, wood and other physical substances
  • Identify drugs and chemical substances
  • Recognize impressions left by fingerprints, shoes, tires
  • Ensure proper handling and storage of evidence

forensic technician

Most work for local or state public law enforcement agencies, but there are also job possibilities with the federal government and with private medical or diagnostic labs. Forensic science technicians may also reconstruct crime scenes and testify as expert witnesses at criminal trials.

Forensic science technician training

Most employers of forensic science technicians require a bachelor’s degree, either in chemistry, biology, physical anthropology or forensic science. There are also two-year forensic science programs that combine classroom education in the principles of science with practical hands-on lab experience.

For an entry-level forensic science technician, most labs will provide a training period under the direct supervision of an experienced technician or forensic scientist. A new technician will also have the opportunity to observe court testimony and legal procedure before testifying in court.

A prospective forensic scientist should take a full program of science and math courses, starting in high school. College coursework should concentrate on lab sciences and computer skills, such as:

  • Biology, physical anthropology
  • Chemistry
  • Pharmacology
  • Physics
  • Quantitative analysis, statistics
  • Forensic science techniques
  • Computer science

Some forensic science technician students will take advanced course work to train as specialists in DNA typing, fingerprint, blood, or handwriting analysis or firearm identification. Others will chalk up several years of work experience and then pursue a master’s degree in order to advance to the level of supervisor or forensic scientist.

Related skills and qualifications

Forensic science technicians have many skills and qualifications in common with other applied scientists; they must be analytical, precise, accurate and observant. They are expected to:

  • Keep detailed scientific logs as they monitor experiments
  • Interpret results and communicate their findings clearly
  • Operate and maintain sophisticated equipment and computer systems
  • Follow security precautions to avoid contamination

Career outlook for forensic science technicians

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs for forensic science technicians to grow by a healthy 20 percent, driven by increased use of scientific analysis like DNA testing in solving crimes. Forensic science technicians working for the federal government reported above-average wages.