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Chemical Engineer

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

  • 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

Construction Engineer, Design Engineer, Plant Engineer, Process 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

N/A
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • 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
INNOVATIVE

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

OBJECTIVE

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

DIRECTIVE

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

Duties
Updated Mar 22, 2018

Chemists, biochemists and materials scientists work in research labs to develop metal and chemical products. These can include drugs, detergents, fertilizers, plastics, fuels and fabrics. Chemical engineers work on teams to develop processes to make these products at a large scale. They adapt the small-scale processes used in the lab to make these products for commercial and industrial use.

In general, chemical engineers:

  • operate or manage chemical, biochemical, pharmaceutical and materials processing plants
  • advise on:
    • choosing technology
    • designing the layout of industrial plants
    • choosing, sizing and installing equipment
  • decide on the best processes for commercial production
  • assess the economic, safety, health and environmental aspects of processes and projects
  • identify safe and cost-effective options for processes and projects
  • design better ways (processes and equipment) to convert raw materials into products
  • find solutions to problems in processing plants
  • ensure plants operate:
    • efficiently and safely
    • with the environment in mind
  • use computers to simulate, model and control processes
  • choose the best instruments to measure pressure, temperature, flow rate and composition
  • design and operate:
    • quality control systems
    • environmental control systems
  • supervise technologists, technicians and other engineers engaged in support activities.

Chemical engineers may work in the following areas:

  • Research and development. Chemical engineers research ways to develop or improve products and processes. They usually work with a team of scientists and engineers:
    • The scientists can be chemists, metallurgists, biochemists, materials scientists, and physicists.
    • The other engineers can be mechanical, petroleum, metallurgical, corrosion, environmental, civil and electrical engineers.
  • Process design. Chemical engineers use information on new technology, operational data and design methods to:
    • design processes
    • specify equipment
    • determine how processes should operate

When designing plants, they consider cost, safety and the environment. They often work with chemists, financial experts, technologists and other types of engineers. Chemical engineers are often the ones who lead risk assessments of new projects.

  • Plant operations. Chemical engineers ensure the equipment in their unit works efficiently and safely. They also make sure it produces the desired quantity and quality of product. This includes solving problems, improving processes and modifying equipment. They work with technologists, operators and other engineers. They often report to production managers.
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 22, 2018

Chemical engineers who work in production may often come in contact with hazardous machinery and chemicals. They may also have to climb process equipment up to 10 stories high.

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 Mar 22, 2018

Chemical engineers need to possess:

  • the ability to analyze and solve problems
  • knowledge of physics, math and chemistry
  • the ability to visualize complex processes and equipment
  • the ability to write and speak clearly.
  • an interest in and aptitude for management
  • a willingness to improve their knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis
  • the ability to work well with people:
    • from various disciplines and cultures
    • with different education.

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

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 22, 2018

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.


Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Grande Prairie Regional College

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

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 22, 2018

Engineer

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

Legislation

Under Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf], you must be a registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a Professional Engineer or engage in the practice of engineering. You do not have to register 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 in Alberta requires successful completion of:

  • 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
  • a minimum of 3 acceptable references
  • 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, 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 the 2 jurisdictions require similar responsibilities and competencies.

For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory in Canada? and APEGA.

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated engineers, see Professional Engineer Licensing Process [pdf] on the Opportunity Alberta website.

Contact Details

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA)
1500 Scotia One, 10060 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4A2
Canada

Call: 780-426-3990
Toll-free in North America: 1-800-661-7020
Fax: 780-426-1877
Email: email@apega.ca
Website: www.apega.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 22, 2018

Chemical engineers work in offices, industrial plants, in the field and in labs. They work wherever a process converts raw materials into a product. This includes industries that make pulp and paper, extract oil, refine petroleum and convert energy. It also includes industries that process polymer, extract and refine metals, supply power, process food, and produce adhesives and coatings. Some chemical engineers work for companies that make instruments and controls, produce engineering designs, or do environmental work.

A typical first job after graduation is in process development. In early jobs, junior engineers often work on a range of assignments. Supervised by more senior engineers, they gain experience and learn company procedures. With experience, they may progress to managing production of a single unit or product. From there, they may move on to managing operations of a large industrial complex.

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

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

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the C034: Chemical Engineers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.3% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 39 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 22, 2018
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
Starting
Overall
Top
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
Manufacturing
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

26%
26%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

N/A

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

15%
15%

Vacancy Rate

5%
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Natural Resources
    • Agriculture
    • Environmental Stewardship
    • Primary Resources
  • Science
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 22, 2018

American Institute for Chemical Engineering (AIChE) website: www.aiche.org

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website: www.apega.ca

Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (CSChE) website: www.cheminst.ca/about/cic/csche

Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) website: www.cheminst.ca

NACE Institute website: www.naceinstitute.org

Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) website: www.spe.org

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 Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 22, 2018. 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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