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Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers solve problems associated with the production and use of chemicals and biochemicals. It is based on the principles of chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics and is responsible for the production of chemicals for use in our everyday lives. Chemical engineers strive to create and develop the best possible methods to manufacture useful products and services. They respond to society's growing demands for new innovative products and for improved use of our limited natural resources.

If you are interested in a career in chemical engineering, visit Qualifax (www.qualifax.ie) to search for relevant courses at all levels and entry points.

Some alternative job titles for this role

  • Process Engineer
  • Biochemical Engineer
  • Food/Hygiene Engineer
  • Pharmaceutical Engineer
  • Thermo-fluid Engineer
  • Chemical Technologist
  • Chemical Technician

What the job involves 

  • Pilot new methods for manufacturing products
  • Oversee the implementation of those methods in full-scale production
  • Develop novel and cost-effective processes for recovering valuable raw materials, such as fossil fuels or anti-cancer agents
  • Generate and efficiently mass-produce new medicines
  • Produce new, cleaner fuels, from plants or other renewable resources
  • Design pollution prevention technologies

How your career can develop

The chemical and biopharmaceutical industries are among the fastest growing sectors in Ireland with many exciting and rewarding career opportunities for graduates, both at home and abroad. Chemical engineering is a highly transferable skill and there are plenty of opportunities to specialise. Experience and a postgraduate degree will often ensure rapid career progress.

Why it matters?

Chemical engineers play a key role in shaping in our lives, from refining oil, to cleaning water, to developing one of the world’s most popular and widely used stationary products, the Post-it Note. The Post-it Note was developed by Spencer Silver in 1968 who was a chemical engineer working on pressure-sensitive adhesives for the aerospace industry. Spencer accidentally added too much chemical reactant to the experiment and thus became the adhesive used in Post-it Notes. 

Skills

  • Good maths and science skills, particularly chemistry
  • Good problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Planning and organisational ability
  • Excellent IT skills
  • The ability to manage projects, budgets and people
  • Good spoken and written communication skills
  • The ability to work as part of a team
  • A clear understanding of the commercial application of science

Typical employers

  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Chemicals and agrochemicals companies
  • The oil and gas industry
  • Food and drink manufacturers and research labs
  • Cosmetics and toiletries
  • The paper and printing sectors
  • Plastic and metals companies
  • Fibres and polymers developers and manufacturers
  • Chemical engineering consultancy and contracting firms

Typical salary

  • Graduate/Starting      €30,000
  • Senior/Potential        €90,000+

Typical qualifications

A bachelor’s degree in biological or chemical engineering or a primary degree in a science related area is necessary for applications for master’s courses. An MSc in biological or chemical engineering is almost always required to ensure career development. Other gateway degree qualifications include:

  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Bioprocess engineering
  • Biochemical engineering

Alternative routes to a bachelor’s degree in this area may apply to students that have a PLC qualification in a related course or general engineering certification or diploma. For further details on eligibility requirements for third level entry following a PLC qualification, students should visit the CAO course search at Careersportal.ie.

Further information