Chemistry is a science and an industry relating to the knowledge of materials and their transformation.

As society has changed, chemistry has diversified into a range of increasingly specialised disciplines in which engineers at the ENSCR are trained. Their skills and adaptability fit them for careers in all industrial sectors in France and around the world. The versatility that is typical of engineers from the ENSCR guarantees them attractive careers and new prospects in management, marketing or administration.

Chemical engineers develop chemicals, principles and products that can lead, for example, to the production of pharmaceuticals or cosmetics. They also play a part in developing manufacturing techniques, creating products, quality control and marketing.

Rigour, perseverance and creativity are the main qualities needed in this career.

Chemical engineers operate within a research and development department or in a laboratory. But they may also work on the factory floor if they are employed to supervise the activities of a production unit.

The primary recruiters are companies in a direct relationship with chemistry, such as companies in the petrol, chemistry and para-chemistry, pharmacy and plastics sectors.

Chemical engineers are also recruited into mechanical, electrical and electronics industries, nuclear engineering, the environment, the agri-food industries and construction.

Chemical engineers can operate in many specialisms.

Here are a few examples of specialisms for which the ENSCR offers training:

R&D engineer

This is a key role in any new project. R&D engineers are an essential “interface” between the design and the development of new products or services. They study the properties of matter, conceive new products, improve the properties and manufacturing costs of products and compounds, create new synthetics, perfect processes, explore new fields such as Sustainable chemistry or biotechnology.

They must demonstrate rigour, curiosity and perseverance. They must also be able to work in a team, be organised and curious. To be effective, they must be interested in other specialities than their own, for example marketing or production. Finally they must persevere because it sometimes takes many fruitless efforts before finding the right formula.

Young engineers in research and development are particularly sought by the big industrial chemical groups who depend on innovation to meet tough international competition, especially from emerging countries.

Environment engineer

The job of environmental engineers is a permanent balancing act: they must ensure compliance with the regulations on pollution emitted by their company (waste, impact on air and of water quality, nuisance and noise…) while preserving their production and their profitability. A challenge that requires playing several roles.

Depending on the situation, environment engineers may play a preventive or corrective role, a research or awareness-raising activity. They foresee and measure the impact of production methods on the environment and propose solutions for overcoming the nuisances they cause.

As experts, environment engineers ensure that the workplace and production methods comply with current environmental standards.

They make concrete proposals for improving the premises and introduce “clean” technologies. If they have a gift for communication, they may also be asked to raise staff awareness on fighting pollution and acting as a liaison between the company and specialist government agencies, ecologist associations and local representatives of ministries.

Quality, assurance engineer

These people design, define, organise and implement different procedures to ensure the quality of products. They supervise and monitor the control of raw materials, production resources, semi-finished and finished products. They help to improve manufacturing processes, to organise production and production facilities. They lead and direct teams of technicians or executives. They may control their department’s budget and coordinate all the quality activities in the company.

They generally operate within a company’s quality control department or within a service provider. The activity calls for close collaboration with in-house departments – commercial (customer satisfaction), design, production, methods and maintenance (technical problems) or with client companies, and frequent contacts with suppliers and subcontractors. This job often calls for team-work. Frequent travel may be involved, and great geographical mobility is often needed for interventions on several sites.

Health and safety engineer

The role of the EHS (Environmental Health and Safety) engineer is to ensure that safety standards are met, to protect the environment and health in a production unit, mainly but not exclusively in the:

  • chemical,
  • oil,
  • metal-working,
  • or agri-food industry.

HSE engineers join in establishing a safety policy with the aim of reducing accidents at work, and industrial risks (pollution, fire, etc.) and also improving quality in the establishment, in the case of the QSE (Quality, Safety and Environment) engineer or the QEHS (Quality, Environmental Health and Safety) engineer.

They may work in a production unit or in a Environmental Safety consultancy.

Their main job is to ensure that the company’s safety rules are applied and made known. This means informing the employees, visitors, administrative services and nearby residents. They keep in constant touch with management, insurance companies, the local authorities, the factory inspectorate, etc.

They must also record and analyse any incidents which occur in the establishment, and determine their causes to improve accident prevention.

Finally they must apply specifications which help to comply with the standards in force in their sector of activity and to improve the company’s quality policy.

The Health and Safety engineer must be rigorous, knowing how to enforce the company rules because in the event of an accident they are the first responsible. They must also in a way be a visionary, knowing how to read the future. They must always be one step ahead, where safety rules and production tools are concerned.

Production engineer

In the chemical industry, production engineers run one or more production lines. They organise and plan the making and packing of products, complying with regulations and with quality standards and trying to continuously improve performance. They manage the staff under their responsibility.

The companies recruiting them are from a whole range of chemical industries: colours and pigments, paints, varnishes, inks, rubber, glue, industrial gases, explosives, soaps, detergents, perfumes, toiletries, etc.

This job also exists in all the other branches of industry.
Their main activities are to define the production plan (establishing the roadmap, organising the production, managing subcontracts, etc.), to monitor production (coordinating the production plan, monitoring the indicators daily, ensuring that safety procedures  are applied, reacting rapidly to incidents…), to optimise the processes of production (checking that the installations comply with rules and procedures, preventing internal risks, giving technical advice…), to manage staff and activities and report back (budget management, reporting on activities…).

Production engineers are people with good leadership skills to coordinate and lead the work of a team. They are rigorous and well-organised. They have an eye for quality and results. They are able to cope with the unexpected.


Cécile Gouzon sur la place des femmes dans l’industrie chimique

« Lors de mon parcours scolaire, je me suis toujours trouvée dans des classes mixtes et je n’ai jamais ressenti de différence dans le fait d’être une femme plutôt qu’un homme qui fait des études. En Ecole d’ingénieur chimiste, le pourcentage de femmes est souvent supérieur à la moyenne, ce qui montre selon moi la volonté et la capacité des femmes à réussir de grandes études. Néanmoins, j’ai du mal à comprendre pourquoi le pourcentage général de femmes en écoles d’ingénieurs est si bas.
Par ailleurs, les équipes avec lesquelles j’ai pu travailler en stage étaient mixtes, mais les postes à responsabilités étaient majoritairement pourvus par des hommes. Les femmes ayant des postes importants sont d’ailleurs souvent remarquées, preuve qu’il est encore inhabituel de voir des femmes diriger une entreprise ou un laboratoire. Loin de me décourager, cela me donne au contraire encore plus envie de réussir afin de prouver, si c’est encore nécessaire, que les femmes ingénieures méritent entièrement leur place. »