Chemical engineering is in many ways the
archetypal science job, right down to the traditional white lab coat. It is also a very stimulating field of work; writing in the Guardian, Samantha Tyson
of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) described chemical engineering as “all
about turning raw materials into useful, everyday products”.
Qualified chemical engineers can also look
forward to decent remuneration - a recent IChemE salary survey found
that starting wages average somewhere in the region of £29,500 per year. More experienced chartered chemical
engineers can expect to earn as much as £70,000, or even higher in certain
industries (such as oil and contracting).
But how does one become a chemical
engineer in the first place?
with other science jobs, you need the right characteristics.
Don't be fooled too much by the 'chemical' bit of this particular job title - if you wish to become a chemical engineer, strong mathematical
abilities are just as important as a firm grasp of chemistry. According to Tyson, maths, physics and chemistry are
the most common A-levels taken by chemical engineering students.
But you will also need many other, often
more general skills and attributes to secure a job in chemical engineering. These
range from project and resource management skills and oral and written
communication skills to analytical skills, problem solving, and the ability
to work as part of a team.
Graduates seeking chemical engineering jobs will also be expected to possess strong IT skills, commercial and business
awareness and the capacity to motivate and lead a team.
qualifications will you require?
You won't normally be able to secure a role as a chemical engineer unless you have a BEng degree or a BTEC HNC or HND in
chemical or process engineering. Admission to a chemical engineering degree
course generally depends on you having at
least five A*-C GCSEs, as well as two A-levels (including
maths and at least one science subject).
If you lack maths and science
qualifications, some universities offer a foundation year to help get you up to
speed. As always, you should double-check the exact entry requirements with individual colleges.
It can be advantageous for those wishing to
build an especially lucrative career in chemical engineering to also possess a
master's degree (MEng) in addition to a first
degree in chemical engineering. Those with a degree in a different branch of
engineering (or a related subject such as chemistry or polymer science) may opt
to take an MSc postgraduate degree in chemical or process engineering to boost
their career prospects.
engineering is an extremely diverse field of work.
to sum up everything that chemical engineers do in just a few lines. Depending
on the exact role and sector in which you work, you may find yourself...
plant and equipment configuration
- Setting up scale-up and scale-down
- Assessing options for plant expansion
- Applying new technologies and
researching new products
...among an incredibly wide range of other potential
There are plenty of opportunities for
progression, too. According to the National Careers Service, these include becoming a senior process or design engineer; progressing into a research and development manager role; or
becoming a plant manager or overall operations manager. Consultancy work is
Remember that Hyper Recruitment Solutions
is a leading science recruitment agency serving those on the lookout for all
manner of engineering roles, including process or chemical engineering. Click through to
learn more about our in-depth expertise in this area.