Chemical Engineer

Last updated: 28 Feb 2023, 11:56

Chemical engineers work in a vast range of scientific fields from water and waste water treatment to petrochemicals to generating electricity from biomass to producing our food and drinks to cosmetics and textiles… to name just a few!

Image of chemicals in test tubes

Alternative job titles for this role

  • Process engineer
  • Biochemical engineer
  • Food/food hygiene engineer
  • Pharmaceutical engineer
  • Thermo-fluid engineer
  • Chemical technologist
  • Chemical technician


Chemical engineering involves the challenge of solving the problems concerned with making and using chemicals and biochemicals. It is based on a mixture 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.

What the job involves

  • Pilot test 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 and there are ample exciting and rewarding career opportunities for graduates, both at home and abroad. Chemical engineering is a highly transferrable skill and there are plenty of opportunities to specialise. Experience and a postgraduate degree will often ensure rapid career progress.

Why chemical engineering matters


  • 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 BSc degree in biological or chemical engineering or a primary degree in a science related area is necessary for applications for MSc 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

Further information

The Institute of Chemistry in Ireland:

The Institute of Food Science and Technology:

The Biomedical & Clinical Engineering Association of Ireland:

The Institution of Chemical Engineers:

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

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This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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