Chemical engineers work with ground-breaking technologies to enhance the quality of people's lives in areas such as environmental protection, the management of resources, and controlling health and safety
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Chemical engineer
- Colour technologist
- Energy engineer
- Nuclear engineer
- Petroleum engineer
- Product/process development scientist
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Analytical chemist
- Energy manager
- Environmental engineer
- Manufacturing engineer
- Materials engineer
- Mining engineer
- Production manager
- Quality manager
- Waste management officer
- Water engineer
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
Work experience is a valuable way of getting first-hand knowledge of specialised industries. If you're undecided about the area of chemical engineering you want to work in, try to get an industrial placement to find out what's available. This may be a placement that's part of your degree, or one you set up yourself during the summer.
Industrial placements are a great way of building up your practical experience and skills, testing and expanding your knowledge, and establishing a network of contacts for future work opportunities. There may also be opportunities to work shadow a chemical engineer to find out more about what they do.
Work experience is available in the pharmaceutical, petrochemical, and food and drink industries. Check out the careers section of company websites for more information on the opportunities available.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.
Employers cover a range of industrial sectors. Any company involved in large-scale conversion of raw materials into a product will require chemical engineers.
You'll find major employers in gas and oil extraction, oil refining, nuclear and other power generation and process industries, including pharmaceuticals, fine and heavy chemicals, and agrochemicals. Other manufacturing industries that need chemical engineers include those supplying:
- fibres and polymers
- food and drink
- plastic and metals
- pulp and paper
Many chemical development engineers work for engineering consultancy and contracting firms.
There are also opportunities to work in pollution control, environmental protection, energy conservation, waste recovery and recycling, alternative energy, medical science and health and safety.
Engineers are well equipped for business roles and may also go into careers in financial services, management, consultancy or law.
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 range of engineering and business-related roles include:
- problem-solving and analytical skills
- project management, through group design work
- resource management
- teamwork and leadership
- IT skills
- initiative and attention to detail, through independent research
- creativity and innovation
- communication and presentation skills, developed through group work and presenting research projects.
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 the training needed to gain chartership, see:
Others go on to take further study at Masters or PhD level in a specialist area of chemical engineering that interested them at undergraduate level. A PhD is essential for a career in academia and research.
It's also possible for chemical engineering graduates to take postgraduate study in areas such as design, science or management.
For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses in chemical engineering.
What do chemical engineering graduates do?
Two-fifths of chemical engineering graduates are working in engineering professions six months after graduation. Of these, 22% are working as production and process engineers.
|Working and studying||6.3|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Engineering and building||40.6|
|Business, HR and finance||18.2|
|Technicians and other professionals||8.4|
Find out what other chemical engineering graduates are doing 15 months after finishing their degrees in What do graduates do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.