What can you do with a degree in Chemical Engineering?

Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that utilizes the principles of physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics to create, enhance, and maintain processes, systems, and products. It includes the production of various materials, such as food, drugs, and petrochemicals.

Chemical engineers are highly skilled professionals who play a critical role in the development, operation, and maintenance of production systems, as well as the optimization of process performance. This article will examine the opportunities available with a chemical engineering degree, including the industries that employ chemical engineers, career paths, crucial skills, educational and licensing requirements, typical salaries, and job prospects.


Key Takeaways


Main points to remember.

  • Chemical engineering applies principles of physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics to design, improve, and sustain processes, systems, and products.
  • Chemical engineers have a crucial role in developing, operating, and maintaining production systems, as well as optimizing process performance.
  • Industries that rely on the expertise of chemical engineers include pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, energy, food and beverage, and manufacturing.
  • Chemical engineers can pursue diverse career paths, such as engineering management or research science, with a doctoral or PhD degree.

Overview of Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineering is a wide-ranging field that involves applying the principles of chemistry, physics, maths, biology, and economics to produce, transform, and transport materials, energy, and information. This is used to develop processes and products for making everything from petrochemicals to detergents and even nanomaterials. Chemical engineers also work to create sustainable engineering solutions to meet the needs of a growing population while preserving the environment and natural resources. With their knowledge and skills, chemical engineers can create innovative solutions to complex problems, making them a valuable asset to many industries.

Industries That Utilise Chemical Engineering.

Chemical engineering is a discipline that is applied in numerous sectors. Pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, energy, food and drink, and manufacturing are among the industries that depend on the knowledge of chemical engineers. Chemical engineers are leading the way in innovation in many of these areas, from discovering new medicines to creating efficient manufacturing methods.


Pharmaceuticals is a field of science in which graduates in chemical engineering can utilize their knowledge to create new drugs and treatments that enhance human health. Chemical engineers working in this industry have the responsibility of developing drugs, optimizing procedures, manufacturing, and ensuring quality control. Chemical engineers are crucial in researching and developing new drugs to ensure that the resulting products are safe and effective for human use. They also work to optimize the processes used to create drugs and treatments, from selecting raw materials to the final product. Chemical engineers are also responsible for ensuring the production and quality control of pharmaceuticals, guaranteeing that formulations are as safe and effective as possible. Furthermore, chemical engineers can use their knowledge to create new drug delivery techniques, such as nanotechnology.


Biotechnology provides an opportunity to create innovative treatments and cures that can enhance the quality of life for numerous people. For individuals with a degree in chemical engineering, biotechnology offers an exciting prospect to use process design and synthetic biology to produce new products and treatments that can save lives. With a chemical engineering degree, one can apply their knowledge of process design and synthetic biology to develop novel products and treatments that can address a broad range of diseases and conditions. Additionally, one can utilize their chemical engineering degree to create new processes that enhance the efficiency of existing treatments and cures. By using their chemical engineering degree, individuals can contribute to improving the quality of life for numerous people.


Energy is a crucial component of modern society, supplying the power required for various activities and processes. Chemical engineers can have a significant impact on enhancing energy efficiency and devising new technologies that can generate energy from renewable sources.

Chemical engineers can work on developing energy sources from solar, wind, and biomass, and exploring ways to store energy from these sources. They are also involved in developing more efficient methods of producing energy from fossil fuels and can offer expertise to optimize refining and burning of these fuels to reduce environmental impacts.

Additionally, chemical engineers can play a crucial role in developing new technologies for using energy more efficiently.

Food and Drink

Food and drink processing is a significant area of study for chemical engineers, with a focus on developing new technologies to enhance the quality and safety of food products. Chemical engineers can utilize their knowledge and expertise to design new processes for manufacturing food products, devise innovative methods for producing biofuels, and create systems to ensure food safety. With their expertise, chemical engineers can work towards:

1) Developing cost-effective solutions for food production;

2) Researching and developing processes for producing biofuels; and

3) Designing solutions to ensure food safety.

Through the application of their knowledge and skills, chemical engineers can make a substantial contribution to the food and drink industry.


Manufacturing processes have been used for a long time to produce food products, biofuels, and other materials. Chemical engineers have a crucial role in optimizing these operations. By utilizing nanomaterials and process optimization techniques, chemical engineers can enhance the efficiency, safety, and sustainability of manufacturing operations. For instance, nanomaterials can be utilized to create new products with better properties, and process optimization can be employed to decrease energy consumption and waste. Chemical engineers can also develop new processes for existing products or find novel ways to manufacture products with fewer resources. Chemical engineers are vital for ensuring the success of manufacturing operations.


Aerospace engineering is a thrilling area of study that offers immense potential to shape the future of flight and space exploration.

Chemical engineers can apply their knowledge and skills to create and develop new materials for aerospace applications. They can also use their expertise in the formulation and optimization of aerospace materials such as composites, ceramics, polymers, and metals. By utilizing chemical engineering principles, aerospace engineers can create materials that are stronger, lighter, and more durable than traditional materials.

Furthermore, chemical engineers can apply their knowledge to develop and test new aerospace components and systems, as well as develop processes to enhance the performance and efficiency of existing aircraft and spacecraft.

Chemical engineers play a crucial role in the aerospace industry, as their expertise is essential for the development of new and innovative technologies.


The impact of chemical engineering on the environment is huge and has the potential to shape the future of sustainability, conservation, and resource management. Chemical engineers have unique qualifications to create sustainable solutions to modern environmental challenges through the use of green chemistry – a field of study that focuses on reducing or eliminating hazardous substances in the design, manufacture, and use of chemical products. With a chemical engineering degree, one can use their expertise to develop new technologies and processes for environmental sustainability, such as renewable energy sources, water purification systems, and air pollution control systems. Chemical engineers can also work to reduce waste and develop more efficient ways to use natural resources. The possibilities are endless, and the potential for making a real difference in the world is tremendous.

Career Routes in Chemical Engineering.

With a degree in chemical engineering, one can explore various fulfilling career options. For instance, they can work in the petrochemical industry, designing and testing processes to transform crude oil into beneficial products. They can also work in water treatment, developing and testing advanced technologies to ensure clean drinking water. Chemical engineers also work in the food and beverage industry, creating innovative food products and processes to manufacture them. Moreover, they can work in the energy sector, developing new technologies to generate sustainable and renewable energy sources. Other career paths include working in the pharmaceutical industry, developing new drugs and processes to produce them, and in the biomedical sector, developing new medical devices and treatments.

Essential Skills

Chemical engineers require a range of essential skills to succeed in their field. These skills encompass a sound understanding of chemistry, physics, and mathematics, along with the capability to construct and maintain process control systems. Moreover, chemical engineers should possess knowledge of petrochemical production and other areas of chemical production.

Effective communication and problem-solving abilities are also vital as chemical engineers must collaborate with diverse personnel, both within and outside their discipline, to efficiently develop and manage processes. By possessing these skills, chemical engineers can excel in various job roles.

Education Requirements.

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for entry-level positions in chemical engineering.

Those wishing to advance their career may pursue a master’s degree, which can provide the opportunity to specialize in a particular field.

Doctoral or PhD programmes are available for those interested in conducting research or teaching at the college level.

A degree at this level is generally required for higher-level positions, such as engineering manager or research scientist.

Bachelor’s degree

Having a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering opens up various opportunities to pursue different professional engagements. Petrochemicals, materials engineering, process design, and production engineering are some of the areas of chemical engineering that graduates with a Bachelor’s degree can explore. Petrochemicals involve developing products based on petroleum, while process design focuses on creating chemical processes. Materials engineering involves developing new materials, and production engineering focuses on optimizing chemical processes. With a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, professionals have the potential to explore these and other areas of the field.

Master’s Degree

Achieving a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering allows individuals to enhance their knowledge and skills in the field, leading to various career opportunities in the energy, environmental, and manufacturing industries. With a Master’s degree, individuals can explore alternative energy solutions, create new chemical processes, work in waste management, or be part of a research and development team. These opportunities are available in both industry and academia, with the potential to work as a consultant, faculty member, or in a research-oriented position. The table below provides an overview of potential career paths for those with a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering.

Potential Career Paths Description
Alternative Energy Developing new energy sources and technologies
Waste Management Collaborating with government and industries to reduce waste and pollution
Chemical Processes Designing new processes and products for manufacturing
Research and Development Conducting tests and developing new products in laboratories
Consultant Providing advice and expertise to clients in the field
Faculty Member Teaching chemical engineering courses at universities

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Those who wish to pursue the highest level of education in chemical engineering can opt for a PhD. This degree is considered the ultimate level of knowledge and expertise in the field, and individuals who obtain it are in high demand for research and job opportunities. With a PhD, students of chemical engineering can acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for conducting advanced research and teaching. Furthermore, they can seek out highly competitive positions in industry and government, which can lead to a prosperous career path.

A PhD in chemical engineering has several benefits, including:

  • Research Opportunities:

  • Students of chemical engineering can conduct advanced research and testing in the laboratory, as well as develop new chemical engineering concepts and technologies.

  • They can also collaborate with other researchers in the field and share their findings with the larger scientific community.

  • Job Opportunities:

  • PhD graduates of chemical engineering can apply for positions in industry and government that require a deeper understanding of the field.

  • These positions can offer a more stable and lucrative career path than those available to individuals with a Master’s degree.

Licensing Requirements

In order to practise chemical engineering, most states in the UK require licensure. The regulations and restrictions for obtaining a license vary by state, but typically applicants must have a degree in chemical engineering from an accredited school and pass a series of exams.

Additionally, applicants must demonstrate a minimum level of competency in professional ethics and engineering principles. Licensure is also required for higher level positions, such as senior project engineer or manager.

The process for obtaining licensure may involve an application fee, providing proof of education, and completing a number of exams. Once obtained, the license must be maintained by continuing to meet state requirements and renewing it as needed.

Typical salaries in the UK.

Salaries for chemical engineers can vary greatly depending on their experience, location, and industry. In the field of green energy, new chemical engineers can earn an annual salary of approximately £80,000, while those with more experience can earn up to £120,000. For chemical engineers working in process optimization, annual salaries can range from £90,000 to £130,000. In urban areas, salaries may be higher, with entry-level chemical engineers earning up to £90,000 and experienced professionals earning up to £160,000 per year.

Experience Green Energy Process Optimization
Entry-level £80,000 £90,000
Experienced £120,000 £130,000
Urban Areas £90,000 £160,000

Job Prospects

The employment prospects for chemical engineers are optimistic, as there is an increasing demand for proficient professionals. Technological advancements have established an atmosphere where the job marketability of chemical engineers is on the rise.

Employers are searching for candidates with a robust technical background and experience in using engineering principles to solve intricate problems. Chemical engineers are well-placed to capitalize on these prospects, which are anticipated to grow in the forthcoming years.

With the appropriate degree and skillset, chemical engineers can anticipate discovering a vast assortment of potential job opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What other qualifications can I acquire with a chemical engineering degree?

Having obtained a chemical engineering degree, there are numerous other career options available. These may encompass areas such as environmental engineering, bioengineering and process engineering. Furthermore, chemical engineers may also opt to pursue careers in fields such as materials engineering, nanotechnology, and energy and resource management.

What is the employment scenario for chemical engineers in the UK?

The job market for chemical engineers is strong, offering numerous chances for researching salaries and exploring career pathways. Experts in this domain can discover a range of roles that match their particular strengths and interests. With appropriate education and experience, chemical engineers can accomplish significant success in their preferred field.

Are there any placements or schemes available for students studying chemical engineering?

Chemical engineering students in the UK can opt for internships or apprenticeships in green chemistry and process optimization. These opportunities offer significant experience and assist students in acquiring relevant skills for a prosperous career in the industry.

What kind of work environment can I anticipate with a chemical engineering degree?

With a degree in chemical engineering, one can anticipate working in various professional environments. Chemical engineers have the option of pursuing alternative career paths in industry, research and development, or consulting. Professional connections can provide access to new opportunities and contribute to greater achievements.

Is there any extra certification or training needed to pursue a career as a chemical engineer?

Chemical engineers may need further certifications or training beyond their degree, such as in Alternative Energy or Process Design. This will depend on their career objectives and the job requirements. Professional development courses may be advantageous for gaining expertise in specific areas.





Chemical engineering is a versatile field that presents a variety of career paths and opportunities. With a degree in chemical engineering, one can pursue a wide range of industries, from pharmaceuticals to energy, and develop the essential skills required to be successful.

An education in chemical engineering requires a bachelor’s degree and may include additional licensing and certification requirements. Salaries range widely depending on the industry, but they often reflect the importance of the job.

The job outlook for chemical engineers is expected to be positive in the future, making it an attractive option for those looking to enter the field. With the right skills, education, and training, a career in chemical engineering can be a rewarding and challenging experience.

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