If you're passionate about math, science and technology, a career as a chemical engineer might be a good fit for your interests and skill set. These professionals perform important jobs in our society, working with chemicals to improve various aspects of our lives, including the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the vehicles we drive. If you're exploring career options, you are likely weighing the anticipated salary of each job. For chemical engineers, the salary range varies depending on where you live and work.
Chemical engineers are a subset of the broader field of engineering. These professionals use chemistry, physics, math and engineering to answer questions or create solutions for problems involving oil, natural gas, plastic, paper, detergents, chemical agents and solutions. Chemical engineers may work in laboratories, offices, industrial plants, refineries and other on-site locations.
To become a chemical engineer, you need at least a bachelor's degree. You don't need any work experience in a related field, and you won't spend much time doing on-the-job training. You use mostly what you learned in college as a professional chemical engineer. It is, however, beneficial to find an internship or related opportunity to boost your resume before searching for a full-time job as a chemical engineer.
Chemical engineers can work in many industries. For example, this specialized role can be useful in the energy industry, such as in oil and natural gas extraction and drilling operations. It's also useful in manufacturing settings, such as for the production of plastic products. Chemical engineers may also help with the development of new chemicals or solutions for a variety of companies.
Years of Experience and Salary
If you're curious about chemical engineering pay, it's easy to evaluate pay in this field using salary information gathered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from chemical engineers in states across the country. According to the bureau's latest data, the mean annual salary of a U.S. chemical engineer is $112,430 or $54.05 per hour. The mean is the point of the salary range at which half of engineers earned more and half earned less.
Expect an entry-level chemical engineer salary to be lower than that of an experienced professional. By some estimates, an entry-level chemical engineer salary is roughly $69,000 per year, while a midcareer chemical engineer can expect to earn $87,000. An experienced chemical engineer can expect to earn even more. There is regional variation in the salaries of chemical engineers. For example, the highest-paid chemical engineers are based in Texas and earn a mean salary of $145,660 per year. Next on the list of high-paid chemical engineers are those working in Alaska at a mean salary of $137,360 per year. On the low end of the spectrum, some chemical engineers reported making $62,230 per year or $29.92 per hour.
If you're open to moving, it may be helpful to consider which states have the most chemical engineering positions. Texas is at the top, with 8,200 chemical engineers working in the state. Next is California with 2,310 jobs, followed closely by Louisiana with 2,300 jobs. In all three of these states with a high number of chemical engineering jobs, the mean salary for these professionals is above $100,000.
Job Growth Trend
If you're seriously considering a career as a chemical engineer, you may be happy to know that this field is expected to grow by roughly 8 percent between now and 2026. This means that approximately 2,500 new jobs are expected to be added across the country in the coming years.