A career in chemical engineering

What is chemical engineering?

Modern society relies on the work of chemical, biochemical and process engineers - they help manage resources, protect the environment and control health and safety procedures, while developing the processes that make the products we desire or depend on.

Chemical engineering is all about changing raw materials into useful products you use everyday in a safe and cost effective way. For example petrol, plastics and synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon, all come from oil.

Chemical engineers understand how to alter the chemical, biochemical or physical state of a substance, to create everything from face creams to fuels.

Career prospects: what to chemical engineers do?

Chemical engineers are qualified to undertake a wide variety of activities such as:

  • Process design engineer (design, construction of plants)
  • Production engineer (operate and optimise plants)
  • Environmental engineer (recover useable materials, reduce waste, pollution control)
  • Lecturer (lectures students in the field)
  • Research and development engineer (seeks new and more efficient ways of using and producing products)
  • Sales and marketing engineer (solving production and process problems, sell chemicals, equipment)
  • Project engineer (oversees design and construction of facilities)

Industries: where do chemical engineers work?

Chemical engineers can work in a wide variety of indsutries:

  • Paper and pulp
  • Plastics
  • Cleaning agents
  • Toiletries
  • Perfume
  • Beer
  • Medical
  • Mines (gold, platinum, coal)
  • Food (eg chocolates)
  • Petrochemicals (petrol, diesel)
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Research and development
  • Banking Law (patent law, technology transfers)


My IChemE

IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).