A chemical engineer works to develop a diverse range of chemical products from pharmaceuticals, to oil and gas, food and drink, water treatment, and plastics and toiletries.
Who can I work for?
You can work in any industry involved in large-scale conversion of raw materials into a product including biotechnology; energy; food and drink; oil and gas; pharmaceuticals; and water.
Where and when can I work?
You will most likely be based in an office, laboratory or processing plant and typically work office hours of 9am – 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Jobs are widely available in industrial areas throughout the country.
What can I earn?
It depends on the sector you work in but the average starting salary is £28,000. With experience, you can earn up to £50,000. With chartered status you can earn in excess of £60,000.
What are the benefits?
If you work for a global organisation there may be the opportunity for work and travel abroad. You can also travel around the country, as many jobs will take you out of the lab and on to site.
Are there chances of promotion?
Promotion is possible but your chances of progression are greatly increased with chartered status. In larger organisations there are opportunities to move into senior management positions and eventually into consultancy roles.
What will I be responsible for?
The work is diverse depending on the sector you are working in but most chemical engineers are responsible for researching new products from trial through to sale; managing processes from plant to full industrial-scale manufacturing; improving product lines; modifying the processing plant that produces the products; and designing and commissioning new production plants.
Do I need any experience?
The most common entry route is through a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) or Master of Engineering (MEng) degree. Qualifications in chemistry, biomedical engineering and nuclear engineering are also considered acceptable starting points. More and more employers are also looking for candidates with relevant work experience.
What attributes are needed?
You will need strong scientific, mathematics and IT skills along with analytical and problem-solving abilities. You will need to demonstrate a careful and considered approach to your work and be creative and innovative too.