Making the transition from student to chemical engineering graduate can be a stressful process.

Getting the best job possible and kicking off your professional careers requires that you be informed.

The Chemical Engineering Career Guide provides industry specific information regarding performance, demand, employment, job vacancies and remuneration, helping you get up to speed with all that’s happening in the profession.

The Chemical Engineering Career Guide will help you rapidly build your understanding of the profession, and better understand your prospects going forward.

Career prospects for graduate engineers are intrinsically linked to the performance of major engineering industries. Industries undergoing major growth tend to invest to expand their operations, and in doing so the number of employees often increases. By analysing the performance of major engineer-employing industries, graduates can gain insights as to where future jobs may be, where opportunities may lie, and what subjects or disciplines they may wish to specialise in.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing in Australia is increasingly reliant on engineering skill. Manufacturers can no longer compete on price alone, but must instead differentiate their products on the basis of quality and precision. Engineers play a key role in this process, driving innovation and product development.

Manufacturers that best take advantage of these areas of competitive advantage are most likely to grow in the current climate, and will provide opportunities for engineers going forward.

Manufacturing is a major employer of chemical engineers across Australia. Through direct employment and through their wide employment in consulting, they play a key role in the sector. Manufacturing has remained relatively steady over the past few years, however those areas with higher quality products – which tend to employ more engineers – have fared well.

Engineering Construction

Engineering construction activity directly drives the employment of thousands of engineers across Australia. Engineers are required through all phases of construction, from planning and scoping, through the build, review and subsequent upkeep and maintenance.

The level of engineering construction activity can also provide useful insights into the trajectory of major engineer-employing industries. Those industries undertaking major new construction are likely to expand the engineering workforce over the years ahead.

The value of done provides a useful snapshot of the current level of engineering work, while the value of work yet to be done and the value of work commenced allow users to better understand the amount of engineering work in the pipeline over the near to medium term.

Engineering construction employs fewer chemical engineers relative to other disciplines. However, the chemical continue to benefit from downstream demand. The massive scale of many projects provides key markets for chemical engineering products, as to many of the industries undertaking engineering works. For example, major engineering work in the electricity, gas, water and waste services industry will drive job creation for chemical engineers down the line.

It is important that the graduates understand where engineers are employed throughout the economy. This can help graduates tailor their education to meet the needs of their future career, and may also help guide their efforts to find employment or internships. A thorough understanding of potential industries can provide a major edge for graduates during the application process, as candidates can better identify and explain how their skills will benefit their employer.


Chemical engineers are employed widely in the manufacturing sector, and the professional, scientific and technical services industry, which is comprised largely on consulting and scientific firms. Mining is also a major employer of chemical engineers, as is the electricity, gas, water and waste service industry.

From a geographical perspective, the Victoria employs the largest share of the nation’s chemical engineers, followed by New South Wales. Western Australia and Queensland are close behind, supported by the size of the respective mining industries.

While employment data can help graduates identify where engineers are employed, job vacancy statistics can provide key insights into which areas are currently hiring, and which industries and states are expanding their engineering workforce.

In some cases, opportunities for graduates may be improved throughout relocation, or by targeting growth industries. A detailed understanding of the job market can enable graduates to target their efforts towards industries and geographic regions in which they are most likely to be successful.

According to data from the Department of Employment, chemical engineering roles accounted for less than 1.0% of advertised engineering positions over the past year. Within the Australian market, chemical engineering remains a relatively niche area, with fewer roles advertised. However, these advertised roles are typically met by a much smaller pool of skilled applicants, ensuring ongoing opportunities for qualified chemical engineers.

The number of advertised roles fluctuated throughout the year, with periods of growth met by a return to the average. Despite the relatively low number of job advertisements compared with other disciplines, chemical engineering graduates remain highly employable in manufacturing of products including bioproducts, cosmetics, cheese, beer, wine, biofuels, petrol, plastics, food additives, fertilizers, and pharmaceuticals.

Despite some fluctuation, the number of advertised chemical engineering roles overall has risen over the past 12 months according to the latest data from the Department of Employment, providing opportunities for chemical engineers. This growth indicates that employment prospects for civil engineering graduates are improving, and students are increasingly likely to find suitable employment upon graduation.

Remuneration is the key form of reward received by engineers in exchange for their expertise and effort. However, remuneration can differ significantly by industry, region, experience and responsibility. With this in mind, it is important that engineers know what they are worth, as this provides a firm bargaining position when negotiating a new contract or a pay rise.

The effect of accepting lower wages or below market remuneration is magnified over the span of a career, making the ability to effectively negotiate wages all the more important. A strong base of knowledge and a detailed understanding of market rates form the first step in negotiating a higher wage, and building a rewarding career in engineering.

Graduates
According to graduate careers Australia, chemical engineering graduates earn an average of $69,000 per year upon graduation, with the 73.6% of those seeking full-time employment successfully finding work in the field within three months.

This compares quite favourably against the wider cohort of university graduates, where the average annual salary is $55,000, and the rate of full time employment 71.3%

By responsibility
As an engineer’s level of responsibility changes, so too does their remuneration. It is important that engineers understand how their remuneration should progress throughout their career. By understanding the market rates in any given discipline, engineers will be better positioned to ensure they receive fair remuneration for their role.