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.