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