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Working as a Chemical Engineer [NOC 2134]

Job Description

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry and other sciences in order to solve practical problems for a wide range of industries. Examples include helping companies use chemicals to produce everything from gasoline to food products.

As a chemical engineer, you perform the following duties:

  • Conduct research into the development or improvement of chemical engineering processes and materials
  • Design machines and processes to produce products or chemical effects, such as refining oil
  • Oversee the construction, operation, and maintenance of the machinery
  • Supervise technicians, technologists and other engineers
  • Develop new products and safety testing techniques
  • Carry out economic and technical feasibility studies

You may specialize in a specific industry, working with products and processes in:

  • pulp and paper manufacturing
  • pharmaceuticals
  • petroleum refining
  • energy processing
  • plastics, adhesives and coatings production
  • metal extraction and refining

Or you may specialize in an area that applies to various industries such as:

  • process control
  • pollution control
  • fermentation processes

Sources: WorkBC Career ProfileCareer Cruising (Profile for Chemical Engineer)

Industry Overview

In British Columbia there are new employment opportunities for chemical engineers due to industry growth and retiring workers.

Environmental protection is an area with considerable potential for employment growth. This specialization is relatively new and is still undergoing development.

You may also find work in the petroleum, petrochemical and mining industries.

More information:

Job Outlook in BC

Employment Outlook Chemical Engineers

Forecasted employment growth rate, job openings, and composition of job openings

Chart from WorkBC

WorkBC provides job openings in BC regions:

Region Employment in 2016
Average Annual Employment Growth
Expected Number of Job Openings
Vancouver Island
110 -1.4% 30
Lower Mainland /Southwest 710 1.3% 280

You can learn more about working as a chemical engineer in BC from:

Types of Employers

Chemical Engineers are employed in a wide range of organizations including:

  • manufacturing and processing industries
  • consulting firms
  • government
  • research organizations
  • educational institutions
  • professional, scientific or technical businesses

You can work for companies ranging from huge oil refineries to small breweries.


The median annual salary for chemical engineers working full-time in BC is $81,568.  Your salary depends on experience, level of education, location, and employer.

The Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia 2016 Membership Compensation Survey reported the annual median salary for consulting chemical engineers was $116,500.

In addition to a salary, most full-time engineers receive health and dental benefits, paid sick days, and paid vacations.

Sources: Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia & WorkBC

In BC regions, you can expect to make:

regional hourly wages for chemical engineers

Source: Job Bank, Wage Report

Working Hours

Chemical engineers usually work full-time, 8 to 9 hours a day, and 40 to 50 hours a week.

Evening and weekend work is rare but may be required in emergencies.

Source: Career Cruising

Skills, Education, and Experience


  • You should be creative, innovative, analytical, and detail-orientated
  • Good at problem solving
  • Strong critical thinking abilities
  • Experience with project management
  • Able to work well individually and as part of a team
  • Ability to write proposals and make presentations

Education and Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or in a related engineering is required
  • Master’s degree or doctorate in a related engineering discipline may be required


This occupation is regulated in British Columbia.

This means that if you are working as an engineer you must either:

  • be registered as a Professional Engineer in BC


  • work under the direct supervision of someone who is registered as a Professional Engineer in BC

Licensing Requirements for Chemical Engineers

 You must be licensed by Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia (formerly APEGBC) to use the title “Engineer.” This allows you to approve engineering drawings and reports and to practise as a professional engineer (P.Eng.).

Registration requires:

  • graduation from an accredited educational program
  • four years of supervised work experience in engineering
  • successfully passing the professional practice examination
  • completion of the law and ethics seminar

Internationally trained engineers: if you have completed your P. Eng application process you may qualify as a “Provisional Member” with the Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia. This designation provides member status to internationally trained engineering graduates who have completed the academic, experience, professionalism, character, and residency requirements.

For more information:

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources, as well as through professional association publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun and The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

  • Available online or in print at the Central Library
    NOTE: Access at VPL locations only

Online Job Postings

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For chemical engineers, look for these related job titles (from NOC):

  • biochemical engineer
  • chemical process engineer
  • environmental chemical engineer
  • industrial hygiene engineer
  • petrochemical engineer
  • polymer engineer
  • process control engineer, chemical
  • refinery engineer
  • waste treatment engineer

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of employers in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “chemical engineer” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume or curriculum vitae and a cover letter that identifies the position you are applying for and summarizes your relevant experience.
Use the library catalogue to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.
To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following guides:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for professional and chemical engineers in BC and Canada can provide information and assistance. Registration and fees are required for membership.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession.

Some titles include:

  • Innovation / Engineers & Geoscientists British Columbia
    Also available at VPL Central Library, 620.5 B86