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Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers conduct research; develop and optimize processes; design and select equipment; and provide technical and management services for plants that convert raw materials into a wide range of end products (for example, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food products, fuels, plastics, metals).

  • Avg. Salary $107,372.00
  • Avg. Wage $52.20
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 1,500
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Professional Engineer, Engineer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Chemical Engineers (2134) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Chemical Engineers (C034) 
  • 2011 NOC: Chemical engineers (2134) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Chemical Engineer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Chemical Engineers

Interest in synthesizing information to conduct research into the development and improvement of chemical engineering processes, reactions and materials, and to establish and conduct quality control programs, operating procedures and control strategies to ensure consistency and adherence to standards for raw materials, products and waste products and emissions


Interest in precision working to test chemical processing, and associated plants and equipment, to evaluate chemical process technology and equipment, and to determine production specifications


Interest in supervising technicians, technologists and other engineers; and in overseeing the construction, modification, operation and maintenance of pilot plants, processing units and processing plants

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 19, 2016

In research laboratories, chemists, biochemists and materials scientists develop metal and chemical products such as drugs, detergents, fertilizers, plastics, fuels and fabrics. Chemical engineers work with others to develop the processes required to produce these products commercially. They adapt and optimize the small-scale production used in the laboratory to large-scale, commercial and industrial production.

In general, chemical engineers:

  • operate or manage chemical, biochemical, pharmaceutical and materials processing plants
  • advise management regarding the selection of technology, layout of industrial plants and the selection, sizing and installation of equipment
  • determine the most effective processes for commercial production
  • conduct economic, safety, health and environmental evaluations of processes and projects to identify cost effective and safe options
  • design and develop new and better processes and equipment for converting raw materials into products
  • troubleshoot problems in industrial processing plants
  • ensure efficient, safe and environmentally responsible plant operations
  • use computers to simulate, model and control processes
  • choose the best instruments for measuring pressure, temperature, flow rate and composition
  • design and operate quality and environmental control systems
  • supervise technologists, technicians and other engineers engaged in support activities.

Chemical engineers may work in one or more of the following areas.

  • In research and development, chemical engineers conduct experiments to develop or improve products and processes. They usually work with a team of scientists (for example, chemists, metallurgists, biochemists, material scientists, physicists) and engineers (for example, mechanical, metallurgical, corrosion, environment and electrical engineers).
  • In process design, chemical engineers use information on new technology, operational data and design methods to design processes and specify equipment and operating specifications for industrial plants. Cost, safety and environmental concerns are vital components of plant design. Chemical engineers working in this phase often work with chemists, financial experts, technologists and engineers from other disciplines. Chemical engineers typically lead risk assessments of new projects.
  • In plant operations, chemical engineers ensure that the equipment in their unit operates efficiently and safely, and that the desired quantity and quality of product is produced. This includes troubleshooting, process improvement and equipment modification. They work with technologists, operators and other engineers and usually report to production managers.
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Chemical engineers who work in production may come in contact with hazardous machinery and chemicals on a regular basis, or be required to climb process equipment up to ten stories high. Lifting up to 20 kilograms may be required.

Chemical engineers may be on call after hours. The work can be stressful when processes do not work as planned.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Chemical engineers need the following characteristics:

  • the ability to think analytically and solve problems
  • an aptitude for physics, mathematics and chemistry
  • the ability to visualize complex processes and equipment
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • an interest in and an aptitude for management
  • a willingness to improve their knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis
  • the ability to work effectively with or lead groups of people from various disciplines and educational and cultural backgrounds.

They should enjoy being innovative, doing precise work, making decisions and directing the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

The minimum education requirement for chemical engineers is a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. A graduate degree usually is required for consulting, research or university teaching positions.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016


Professional Engineers design, construct, evaluate, advise, monitor and report on the performance of materials, equipment, systems, works, processes and structures.


Under Alberta's Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act, you must be a registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a professional engineer. You do not have to be registered if you work under the direct supervision of a professional engineer and do not call yourself a professional engineer or use the word engineer in your job title.

What You Need

Registration as a Professional Engineer requires: (1) a 4-year bachelor's degree in a recognized engineering program and at least 4 years of acceptable work experience under the supervision of a Professional Engineer, or an equivalent combination of education and experience, (2) a minimum of 3 acceptable references and (3) successful completion of an approved examination in law, ethics and professionalism. A new Provisional Member category has been introduced. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit APEGA's website or contact APEGA.

Working in Alberta

Engineers who are registered and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered engineers in the 2 jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated engineers, see Professional Engineer Licensing Process on

Contact Details

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta
1500 Scotia One, 10060 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T5J 4A2
Phone number: 780-426-3990
Toll-free phone number (within North America): 1-800-661-7020
Fax: 780-426-1877

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Chemical engineers work in offices, industrial plants, field and laboratory environments, wherever there is a process of conversion (for example, in pulp and paper manufacturing, petroleum refining, oil sands extraction, energy conversion, polymer processing, metal extraction and refining, power generation, food processing, adhesives and coatings production). Some chemical engineers are employed by instrumentation and control companies, engineering design companies, or environmental companies and agencies.

A typical first job after graduation is in process development. In these initial positions, junior engineers usually work on diverse assignments under the supervision of more senior engineers to gain experience and learn company procedures. With experience, chemical engineers may progress from production management positions responsible for a single unit or product to operations management positions responsible for large industrial complexes.

In Alberta, 78% of people employed as chemical engineers work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 3,000 Albertans are employed in the Chemical engineers occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.3% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 39 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Chemical engineers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $19.30 $64.45 $39.24 $40.87
Overall $25.22 $71.50 $52.20 $58.24
Top $30.50 $135.00 $65.94 $67.79

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
  • Natural Resources
    • Agriculture
    • Environmental Stewardship
    • Primary Resources
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website:

Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) website:

American Institute for Chemical Engineering (AIChE) website:

International Corrosion Society website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 20, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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