Chemical Engineers: Salary Overview
Chemical engineers try to solve problems related to the use of chemicals, fuel, food, drugs, and other products using the principles of chemistry, physics, and biology.
A chemical engineer’s job description typically includes conducting research to find new and better manufacturing processes, establishing safety procedures when working with dangerous chemicals, designing and planning the layout of equipment, troubleshooting problems that may occur during the manufacturing process, evaluating equipment and processes to ensure that safety and environmental regulations are followed, and estimating production costs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for chemical engineers was $108,770 in May of 2019.
This number shows us that half of all workers in this profession earned less than this amount while half earned more.
The lowest 10 percent made less than $66,810 while the top 10 percent made more than $176,090 per year.
Salaries vary depending on the industry of employment, the region, the industry of employment, number of years of experience, and education, among other factors.
Chemical Engineer Salary by Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chemical engineers held 33,900 jobs in the United States in 2018, most of them working for chemical manufacturers, in research, for companies that provide engineering services, for petroleum and coal products manufacturers, in the field of wholesale trade or for pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturers.
According to the report published by BLS, the mean annual wage for chemical engineers who were employed by chemical manufacturers was $119,130.
The average annual wage reported by those who worked for companies that provide architectural, engineering, and related services was $120,030.
Chemical engineers in the field of scientific research and development services reported an average annual wage of $126,210.
Petroleum and coal products manufacturers paid chemical engineers, on average, with $125,030 annually while employers in the field of management of companies and enterprises offered a mean annual wage of $159,890 for this profession.
This is also the highest-paying field for chemical engineers.
Another field where chemical engineers reported higher-than-average salaries was the field of oil and gas extraction.
In this sector, the average annual wage for chemical engineers was $151,630.
There are many other factors that may determine a chemical engineer’s salary.
For example, holding a supervisory position may help you earn more.
A survey published by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers shows that the median annual salary for chemical engineers who have no supervisory responsibility was $106,300.
Experience is another factor that determines a chemical engineer’s salary.
According to another survey published by the same institute, the median salary for chemical engineers in their early career (those with less than 3 years of experience) was $71,000.
The median annual wage reported by respondents with more than 40 years of experience in the field was $165,000.
Other ways to improve your earning prospects is by getting a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in a field related to chemical engineering or/and by applying for a Professional Engineering license.
This credential can usually be acquired later in one’s career and qualifies engineers for positions that imply overseeing other engineer’s work, qualify them to sign off on projects, and for providing services directly to the public.
Before applying for licensure, you will need a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, a passing score on a Fundamentals of Engineering exam, at least four years of relevant work experience, and a passing score at the Professional Engineering exam.
Employment for chemical engineers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2018 to 2028.
Their services will be needed in some manufacturing sectors and in dynamic fields, such as alternative energies, nanotechnology, and biotechnology.
Having a background in biology can improve your earnings and employment prospects.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Chemical Engineers. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.