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Graduate jobs for chemical engineers

Chemical engineering graduate jobs

Coming to the end of your chemical/process engineering degree and considering your next career move? While there are lots of options, the two most obvious steps are to:

  • Apply to formal graduate schemes with the big engineering employers. Some employers will offer specific chemical/process engineering programmes, but others will recruit multiple disciplines onto one overall engineering programme. A graduate programme usually lasts for around two years, with the view to joining the company permanently upon successful completion.
  • Look for entry-level engineering jobs. While some positions may be advertised as ‘graduate jobs’, others may not specify. Jobs tend to be advertised as and when they come up, rather than once a year, and are likely to be permanent jobs. These opportunities are particularly common with smaller engineering employers who don’t need to recruit a number of graduates every year.

While a lot of jobs will be as a chemical engineer or process engineer, other jobs that often accept chemical/process engineering graduates include:

  • automation engineer
  • manufacturing engineer
  • nuclear engineer
  • petroleum engineer

All of the vacancies listed below are open to chemical/process engineering students.

What industries can chemical/process engineers work in?

The 12 industries listed below have all told us that they need chemical and process engineers. If you click on an industry that interest you, you’ll be taken to an industry overview, which reveals what it’s like to work in this area, any recent trends and developments and how you can get into the industry. Read up on all of the industries that catch your eye to help you decide which ones you’d enjoy working in:

Becoming professionally registered

A lot of engineering employers encourage and support their graduates to work towards professional qualification. Graduate engineers tend to aim for either incorporated engineer (IEng) or chartered engineer (CEng) status. To achieve this, you will need to show that you have achieved a benchmarked level of competence. Engineers often see a step up in salary and responsibilities upon achieving professional status.

As a chemical or process engineer, you’ll probably join the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE). You can also join the IChemE as a student member if you’re studying for a relevant undergraduate degree. Postgraduate students can join as an affiliate member.

Read our article ‘Becoming a chartered or incorporated engineer after starting a graduate job’ for more information.

Chemical/process engineering salaries

A graduate chemical engineer can expect to start on between £22,000 and £30,000 with a high-profile engineering employer in the UK. Your salary may well be in this region with a small or medium-sized employer but it may be a bit lower. Equally, a few employers, typically the oil and gas giants, pay their graduates over £30,000.

In terms of typical salary progression for graduate engineers, the ISE 2018 Development Survey found that the median salary progression after three years for graduates recruited in 2014 was 11% at engineering and industrial companies, 25% at construction/built environment companies and 35% at energy, water and utilities companies.

Equally, according to the Engineering Council’s most recent survey, the Survey of Professionally Registered Engineers and Technicians 2013, the median salary for an incorporated engineer is £45,000 and, for a chartered engineer, £60,000.

Head to our engineering salary round-up to find out more.

What other careers can I get into with a chemical/process engineering degree?

Chemical and process engineering graduates also have plenty of job options outside of the engineering arena. Your options include:

The teaching career options for engineers are wide and varied, depending on education and experience. If you'd like to use your engineering knowledge and skills in a creative role, you could try your hand at technical writing or publishing.