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Chemical engineer

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Summary of occupation

Chemical engineers design and oversee plants and factories that process raw materials into useful products. They work on implementing and developing efficient processing techniques that minimise waste and improve output quality while also being cost-effective, safe and environmentally sound. Chemical engineers may work in specialised areas of chemical processing all over the state. These can include mineral and ore processing, oil and gas refinery, water or waste treatment, and even pharmaceutical or food production.

ANZSCO description: Designs and prepares specifications for chemical process systems and the construction and operation of  commercial-scale chemical plants, and supervises industrial processing and fabrication of products undergoing physical and chemical changes. Registration or licensing may be required.
Alternative names: Process Engineer
Specialisations:
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

Chemical engineers need:

  • problem solving skills
  • to have skills in mathematics and chemistry
  • technical and practical aptitude
  • accuracy, with an eye for detail
  • to be able to work to strict safety standards
  • computer skills
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Working conditions

Chemical engineers usually work for engineering design companies or on site at process plants. They may also work in laboratories and universities conducting chemical process research. If you choose to work mainly in design, you will have to travel occasionally to visit construction and process sites. If you are a chemical engineer who works predominantly on site to oversee processing, you will normally work at processing plants in rural WA. Sometimes these conditions can be dirty, dusty and noisy, as well as socially isolating. Chemical engineers tend to work normal hours, but may have to do shift work on site or work overtime to meet design deadlines.

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Salary details

Graduate chemical engineers can expert to earn approximately $1 317.31 per week ($68 500 per year), depending on the organisation they work for. With experience their earning potential may increase substantially. ​ 

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Tools and technologies

Chemical engineers use complex equipment for testing and measuring processes and materials. They also use specialised computer programs for drawing construction designs. Since the work environment on site can be hazardous, they are often required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including, bright and reflective safety clothing, hard hats, enclosed steel-capped boots, goggles, gloves and masks.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a chemical engineer, you need to study chemical engineering at university. 

Most universities in Western Australia offer degrees in these fields. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.​

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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Chemical Engineer Video Chemical Engineer Occupation

Designs and prepares specifications for chemical process systems and the construction and operation of commercial-scale chemical plants, and supervises industrial processing and fabrication of products undergoing physical and chemical changes. Registration or licensing may be required.

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