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Job Name

Chemical engineer

Job Description
Chemical engineers develop ways to turn raw materials into everyday products.

Salary Low
£29,000 Starter

Salary high:
£60,000 Experienced

Typical hours:
39 to 41 a week

Typical Hours per Day:
evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

How to become a chemical engineer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role

University

You'll normally need a degree or postgraduate qualification in:

  • chemical engineering
  • process engineering
  • biochemical engineering

You may be able to do a postgraduate conversion course if you have a degree in a related area like engineering, chemistry or polymer science.

Some universities offer a foundation year for people without qualifications in maths and science, which allows them to move onto the degree course afterwards.

A postgraduate master's qualification like an MEng can be studied at university. This course includes independent research and gives you a greater knowledge and understanding of chemical engineering science. It could also prepare you for further postgraduate study like a PhD.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including chemistry
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

Apprenticeship

You may be able to do a science industry process engineer degree apprenticeship.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

Work

You could start as a chemical engineering technician and do training on the job to qualify as an engineer.

More Information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the Institution of Chemical Engineers for professional development opportunities.

Further information

You can find more details about careers and training in chemical engineering through the Institution of Chemical Engineers and Whynotchemeng.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • maths knowledge
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • design skills and knowledge
  • knowledge of physics
  • analytical thinking skills
  • science skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

If you work in research and development, you’ll: 

  • test new ways to develop products in the lab
  • use computer models to work out the safest and most cost-effective production methods
  • plan how to move lab tests into a pilot production phase, then on to large-scale industrial processing
  • develop methods to deal with by-products and waste materials in a safe way

In manufacturing, you’ll:

  • work with plant designers to create equipment and control instruments for the production process
  • help to oversee the day-to-day operation of the processing plant
  • monitor production and deal with problems
  • work closely with quality control and health and safety managers

Working environment

You could work in a laboratory, in an office or at a manufacturing plant.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to senior process or design engineer, research and development manager. You could go on to be a plant manager, or overall operations manager.
 
You could also move into consultancy work.






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