Parents and carers

What is chemical engineering?

Chemical engineering is developing, improving and innovating sustainable processes to transform raw materials into a wide range of everyday products. Such processes are designed to be safe, environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

Why study chemical engineering?

To become a chemical engineer, young people learn a broad range of skills that are widely valued in the workplace; project management, good manufacturing practice, new product development, strategic thinking, problem solving and communication. These are learnt alongside more scientific knowledge and skills including analytical chemistry and mathematical modelling.

Chemical engineers are well paid and in demand. According to an annual salary survey of IChemE members (respondents were mostly based in the UK and Ireland) those aged 25 earn £40,000 a year on average.

Where do chemical engineers work?

  • Chemical engineers work all over the work in industries such as:
  • Environmental
  • Food and drink
  • Mining and minerals
  • Energy including renewables
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Water
  • Cosmetics and household products
  • Manufacturing of fibres to be used in the fashion industry

Is there a demand for chemical engineers?

Modern society relies on the work of chemical 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. ​There will always be demand for chemical engineers.

Chemical engineers play a pivotal role in how we live, working across every industry, right across the globe, linking sectors together to help address the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

Where do young people study chemical engineering?

Visit our Find a degree programme section for accredited degree courses worldwide, or for the UK visit UCAS - Chemical Engineering to learn more about entry requirements, course content and the universities that offer Chemical engineering as a degree option.

In the UK, young people can get into chemical engineering through a degree course at university or a degree apprenticeship. These routes would lead to a qualification as a chemical engineer. They can also work as a technician in chemical engineering by completing an apprenticeship.

UK Level 3 apprenticeships for those aged 16 to 18 years are also known as advanced apprenticeships and are generally considered to be equivalent to two A level passes. Currently, there are more general engineering level 3 apprenticeships being offered compared with specific chemical engineering apprenticeships. An advanced apprenticeship may take one to two years to complete.