Apprentice chemical engineers help employ simple components to generate a wide range of useful products. A career in this area will need you to develop petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, and plastics.
As a chemical engineer, you will be involved in designing and developing a wide range of products. Your employment will focus on changing a product’s chemical, biological, and physical properties to turn it into something else, such as making plastic from oil.
You must understand how to convert raw resources into desired items while keeping health, safety, and cost in mind.
Nanotechnology, fuel cells, and biomedical engineering are new materials and methods in contemporary chemical engineering.
If you work in research and development, you could help;
- test new ways to develop products in the lab
- use computer models to work out safe and cost-effective production methods
- plan how to move from lab tests to pilot production and then large-scale processing
- develop methods to deal safely with by-products and waste materials
In manufacturing, you could help:
- work with plant designers to create production equipment and instruments
- oversee the day-to-day operation of the processing plant
- monitor production and deal with problems
- work closely with quality control and health and safety managers
- Apprentice chemical engineers can earn a median salary of around £28,600.
- The median salary for chemical engineers under 25 in the early stage of their careers is about £30,000, rising to a median salary of £54,000 for more experienced engineers.
- The median salary for chartered engineers with an undergraduate degree is around £78,500.
Working hours are typically 9am to 5pm, possibly with some extra hours. Jobs in processing and manufacturing may involve shift work, including evenings and weekends.
You could work in a laboratory, in an office or at a manufacturing plant.
Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice chemical engineer include:
- Level 6 Science Industry Process and Plant Engineer – Entry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship. This qualification will take 60 months to complete.
On a chemical engineer apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- maths knowledge
- knowledge of engineering science and technology
- knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
- design skills and knowledge
- knowledge of physics
- analytical thinking skills
- science skills
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently.
Employers are as diverse as the products they produce and cover a range of industrial sectors, including:
- business, management and consultancy
- chemical and allied products
- food and drink
- oil and gas
- process plants and equipment
Many organisations provide internal training programmes for graduates to guarantee they have the necessary competence to pursue a career as a professional engineer. The IChemE has benchmarked several accredited business training programmes (ACTS) courses. If followed correctly, each graduate should be a well-rounded and skilled professional engineer.
An ACTS will also help you satisfy the requirements for becoming a chartered chemical engineer and an IChemE member (CEng MIChemE). As you progress toward chartership, you may expect your organisation to provide a mentor and supplement your regular development training with relevant technical training for specific projects.
To get chartered status, you must show that you have the appropriate professional experience and have completed sufficient continuing professional development (CPD).
After earning the CEng designation, you’ll need to maintain your CPD throughout your career. The IChemE offers a variety of training opportunities.
Obtaining chartered status is often essential for professional promotion. In addition, because of the industry’s dynamic nature, you can expect to be presented with many CPD opportunities to develop new skills.
The nature of the work necessitates a diverse set of skills and enables you to cope with a broad range of technical, environmental, and commercial challenges. This allows for more rapid promotion to senior management than in many other businesses.
Initially, you will gain expertise via various initiatives within the same business or by switching organisations after chartership. After finishing basic training, there are various employment pathways available.
Many big corporations and consultancies have roles that involve travel or are located overseas.
You can influence the company’s technical leadership and direction when you reach a senior level. In some instances, serving on the board of directors may be an option.