New report reveals latest chemical engineering salary trends

New report reveals latest chemical engineering salary trends

19th December 2018

Salaries for chemical engineers dropped slightly in 2018, according the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) UK Salary Survey 2018, published today (19 December 2018).

The survey is conducted annually and for the second time, the salary survey report is available to download for free.

The median salary for chemical engineers saw a slight decline in 2018; going from £55,000 in 2017 to   £54,000 per year in 2018. Meanwhile, chemical engineers aged under 25, defined as ‘early career’ by the Institution, are earning the same median salary as they did in 2017 (£30,000).

The report also revealed that men and women in the early career category earn the same. However, the gap widens from 25 onwards. The largest gap is in the 45 to 49-year-old age cohort, where women earn £27,500 less than their male counterparts.

Chemical engineers who graduated in 2018 are earning a median salary of £28,600. In comparison, last year’s findings showed new graduates were earning £30,000 per year.

The highest median salary was once again found in the finance, insurance and risk sector at £90,000 per year. This was followed by contracting (£81,000), fuel cells technology (£80,000) and paper and packaging (£77,500).

The report showed Chartered Chemical Engineers earn more than their non-Chartered counterparts. While a professional engineering qualification, such as Chartered Chemical Engineer, does not automatically trigger an increase in salary, the findings are consistent across industry. Factors such as leadership and experience are key to obtaining Chartered Chemical Engineer status and are therefore most likely to have an impact on salary.

Across the UK, median salaries in chemical engineering range from the lowest of £41,300 in the South West to £70,100 in London. In this year’s survey, London was separated as a region from the South East to provide a more accurate regional report. Chemical engineers in the South East receive a median salary of £67,500.

The majority of chemical engineers participating in the survey came from the North West, with the highest concentration working in nuclear/nuclear decommissioning, chemical and allied products, and consultancy.

Moreover, the report revealed that UK nationals earned £55,000, a higher median salary than EU nationals (£43,500) and non-EU nationals (£41,000) living in the UK. These figures were marginally lower than those reported in 2017.

Tara Wilson, Head of Communications at IChemE, said:

“The decrease in UK chemical engineering salaries is too small to draw accurate conclusions from at this stage, but it provides a baseline for us to monitor when we conduct the survey again next year.  

“In terms of the next generation, it’s encouraging to see that the average salary for under 25s is holding steady and remains the same for both male and female engineers. What’s more the trends in industry sector show a significant uplift in salaries within emerging sectors such as biochemical engineering and fuel cells technology. It’s evidence of how the profession is adapting to our changing world.

“We are first and foremost a professional qualifying body, and more than half of respondents were Chartered Chemical Engineers. I’m also pleased to report that 70% of survey respondents have their IChemE membership fees paid for by their employer, and this is great to see. It shows that those who employ chemical engineers’ value professional membership and are supportive of their continued professional development.”

1,585 UK members took part in IChemE’s 2018 salary survey. The full report, which is in association with DATS recruitment company, can be downloaded for free at:

The data has also been uploaded to the online UK salary calculator, accessible to IChemE members only. The salary calculator is a unique, interactive tool that allows IChemE members to benchmark their earnings by sector, age and position.

Notes to Editors

All salaries noted in this press release are reported as median salary per year (£/y), unless stated otherwise.

The 2018 survey was also extended to members in Australia, Ireland, Malaysia, and South Africa. The sample sizes for these remaining countries were too small to draw accurate conclusions and therefore no reports are available.


IChemE UK Salary Survey 2018 - report

IChemE Salary Calculator – for members only


For more information please contact:

Tara Wilson, Head of Communications, IChemE
t: +44 (0) 1788 534454

Rachael Fraser, PR and Communications Executive, IChemE
t: +44 (0) 1788 534435

What is chemical engineering?

Chemical, biochemical and process engineering is the application of science, maths and economics in the process of turning raw materials into everyday, and more specialist, products. Professional chemical engineers design, construct and manage process operations all over the world. Oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, synthetic fibres and clean drinking water are just some of the products where chemical engineering plays a central role.


With an international membership exceeding 40,000 in around 100 countries, the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) aims to be the organisation of choice for chemical engineers. It promotes competence and a commitment to best practice, advances the discipline for the benefit of society and supports the professional development of its members.

IChemE is the only organisation to award Chartered Chemical Engineer and Professional Process Safety Engineer status.