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What can I do with my degree?: Chemical engineering

A chemical engineering degree develops technical and transferable skills that can lead to a range of jobs in business, finance and law, as well as engineering...

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. To find out what jobs would suit you, log in to My Prospects.

Work experience

Work experience is a valuable way of getting first-hand knowledge of specialised industries. If you are undecided about the area of chemical engineering you want to work in, try to get an industrial placement to get an idea of what's available. This may be a placement that's part of your degree course, or one you set up yourself during the summer.

Work experience is often available in the pharmaceutical, petrochemical and food and drink industries. Check out the careers section of company websites for more information.

If you're seeking relevant work experience abroad, look at the possibilities available through IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) .

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

Employers are as diverse as the products they produce and cover a broad range of industrial sectors. Any company involved in large-scale conversion of raw materials into a product will require chemical development engineers.

You'll find major employers in gas and oil extraction, oil refining, nuclear and other power generation and other process industries, including pharmaceuticals, fine and heavy chemicals and agrochemicals. Other manufacturing industries that need chemical engineers include those supplying:

  • food and drink;
  • toiletries;
  • pulp and paper;
  • plastic and metals;
  • fibres and polymers.

Many chemical development engineers work for engineering consultancy and contracting firms. Engineers are well equipped for business roles and go into careers in financial services, management or law.

Find information on employers in engineering and manufacturing, energy and utilities, and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

In addition to specific technical knowledge, a chemical engineering degree provides a sound theoretical basis for introducing new technology and advancing existing technology. You also gain an awareness of the global and societal context in which engineering solutions are applied.

Transferable skills that would be useful in a wide range of engineering and business-related roles include:

  • problem-solving and analytical skills;
  • project management, through group design work;
  • teamwork and leadership;
  • initiative and attention to detail, through independent research;
  • communication and presentation skills, developed through group work and presenting research projects.

Further study

Some chemical engineering graduates go on to further study in order to gain professional status as a chartered engineer (CEng) or incorporated engineer (IEng), which helps to boost career prospects. For more information on further training see:

Apart from the professional qualifications that can be completed, some graduates choose postgraduate study in other areas such as design, science or management.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see postgraduate study in the UK and search postgraduate courses.

What do chemical engineering graduates do?

Half of recent graduates from chemical engineering degrees find work in the UK as production and process engineers.

Other top engineering occupations include mechanical, civil and design and development engineers.

Graduate destinations for chemical engineering
Destinations Percentage
Employed 68.2%
Further study 16.5%
Working and studying 1.9%
Unemployed 10.6%
Other 2.8%
Types of work entered in the UK
Engineering  and building 68.9%
Business, HR and financial 6.0%
Retail, catering and bar work 3.8%
Technicians and other professionals 3.6%
Other 17.7%

Find out what other graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What Do Graduates Do?  

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.


Further information

Written by AGCAS editors
September 2014

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