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Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers conduct research, develop, and enhance processes. They design and select equipment and provide technical and management services to manufacturing plants. This helps the plants convert raw materials into end products safely and in an environmentally responsible way.

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) 
  • 2016 NOC: Chemical engineers (2134) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Chemical Engineers

2006 NOC: 2134

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group
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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Duties
Updated Apr 05, 2022

Chemists, biochemists, and materials scientists work in research labs to develop physical and chemical products. These can include drugs, detergents, fertilizers, food products, petrochemicals, plastics, fuels, fertilizers, and fabrics. Chemical engineers work on teams to develop and oversee the operation of 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.

Chemical engineers operate or manage chemical, biochemical, pharmaceutical, materials, oilfield production, and refinery processing plants. They ensure plants operate efficiently, safely, and with the environment in mind. They advise on:

  • Choosing technology
  • Designing the layout of industrial plants
  • Choosing, sizing, and installing equipment

In overseeing production processes, chemical engineers:

  • 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 that may arise in processing plants
  • Use computers to simulate, model, and control processes
  • Choose the best instruments to measure pressure, temperature, flow rate, and composition
  • Design and operate systems to control quality and environment
  • Supervise other engineers, as well as technologists and technicians, engaged in support activities

Chemical engineers may work in the following areas.

In research and development, they study ways to develop or improve products and processes. They usually work with a team of scientists and engineers. The scientists can be:

The other engineers can be:

In process design, chemical engineers use information on new technology, operational data, and design methods to design processes, specify equipment, and 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.

In 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 or more senior engineers.

Working Conditions
Updated Apr 05, 2022
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Chemical engineers work in offices, industrial plants, in the field, and in labs.

Chemical engineers who work in production often come in contact with hazardous machinery and chemicals. They may have to climb process equipment that stands 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.

Traits & Skills
Updated Apr 05, 2022

Chemical engineers need:

  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Oral and written communication skills
  • Knowledge of physics, math, and chemistry
  • The ability to visualize complex processes and equipment
  • The ability to visualize worst-case safety risks and account for the consequences of rare events
  • A willingness to improve their knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis
  • The ability to work well with people from various backgrounds
  • An interest in and aptitude for management

They should enjoy:

  • Innovating
  • Doing precise work
  • Making decisions
  • Directing the work of others
Educational Requirements
Updated Apr 05, 2022
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

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.



To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Apr 05, 2022
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.

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] and Engineering and Geoscience Professions General Regulation [pdf], you must register as a 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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Engineer.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Apr 05, 2022

Chemical engineers work wherever a process converts raw materials into a product. They work at:

  • Pulp and paper companies
  • Oil extraction companies
  • Petroleum refineries
  • Energy companies
  • Metal refineries
  • Industrial manufacturing companies
  • Food processing companies
  • Agricultural companies

Some chemical engineers work for companies that:

  • Make instruments and controls
  • Produce engineering designs
  • Sell process-related equipment
  • Do environmental work
  • Perform process safety functions and studies

A typical first job after graduation is in process development. Junior engineers often work on a range of assignments. Supervised by 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.

Some chemical engineers may remain more technical. They may become technical experts or authorities for a specific site, company, type of equipment, or production process.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2134: Chemical engineers occupational group, 79.4% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2134: Chemical engineers occupational group is expected to have an average annual growth of 1.9% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 39 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

Wage & Salary
Updated Apr 05, 2022

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Chemical engineers

2016 NOC: 2134
Average Wage
$50.53
Per Hour
Average Salary
$96,817.00
Per Year
Average Hours
37.4
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
11.8
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2134 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.


Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $25.28 $50.00 $32.14 $28.85
Overall $32.88 $63.81 $50.53 $49.88
Top $42.79 $105.96 $84.37 $101.09

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
ALL INDUSTRIES

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
26%
26%)
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
14%
14%
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
20%
20%
Vacancy Rate
5%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Apr 05, 2022

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/about-csche/

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

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

Association for Materials Protection and Performance (AMPP) website: www.ampp.org

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2022. 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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