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Chemical engineer: Salary and conditions

  • The average graduate starting salary is £28,000.
  • The average salary for chemical engineers with experience is £53,000.
  • Chartered chemical engineers can earn £70,000 plus.
  • Salaries vary according to location, sector, size and the nature of the industry and are dependent on chartered status. Salaries in oil and contracting, for example, are likely to be higher than in other areas.
  • Use the online salary calculator on the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)  website, searchable by age, sector, membership grade and level of responsibility, to get an idea of potential salaries.
  • Working hours are typically 9am to 5pm, possibly with some extra hours. Jobs in processing and manufacturing may involve shift work, including evenings and weekends.
  • Work may take place in a lab, office or processing plant. Development work may progress from lab to plant or construction site, so travel may be required at certain stages of a project and clothing requirements may change.
  • Safety is a high priority in chemical and nuclear-based industries and hygiene is critical in food and drink production and water treatment.
  • Approximately a quarter of chemical engineers are women.
  • Jobs are quite widely available and process plants are located in industrial areas throughout the UK (particularly Scotland, the Midlands, North West and North East England) and overseas.
  • Travel and overseas obligations depend on the sector and profile of the employing company. With many UK-based chemical companies, travel and overseas postings are only occasionally necessary, while overseas projects may be the norm if you work for a global manufacturer or consultancy.

Salary figures are intended as a guide only.

Written by AGCAS editors
April 2013

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