Chemical and Materials Engineers design and prepare specifications for chemical process systems and the construction and operation of commercial-scale chemical plants, supervise industrial processing and fabrication of products undergoing physical and chemical change, and investigate the properties of metals, ceramics, polymers and other materials and assess and develop their engineering and commercial applications.

A Bachelor Degree or higher is required. Nearly all workers have a university. Sometimes relevant experience or on-the-job training is also needed. Registration or licensing may also be required.

Tasks

  • preparing designs for chemical process systems and planning control systems for processes such as those used to remove and separate components, effect chemical changes, test and evaluate fuels, transfer heat, and control the storing and handling of solids,liquids and gases
  • monitoring the operation and maintenance of equipment to achieve maximum efficiency under safe operating conditions
  • ensuring correct materials and equipment are used and that they conform to specifications
  • diagnosing malfunctions in chemical plants and instituting remedial action
  • studying product utilisation and pollution control problems
  • reviewing plans for new products and submitting material selection recommendations in accordance with design specifications and factors such as strength, weight and cost
  • planning and implementing laboratory operations to develop new materials and fabrication procedures for new materials to fulfil production cost and performance standards
  • conferring with producers of materials, such as metals, ceramics, polymers, cements and elastomers, during the investigation and evaluation of materials suitable for specific product applications
  • reviewing product failure data and implementing laboratory tests to establish or reject possible causes, and advising on ways to overcome any problems

Job Titles

  • Chemical Engineer
  • Materials Engineer
  • Chemical Engineer

    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.

  • Materials Engineer

    Investigates the properties of metals, ceramics, polymers and other materials and assesses and develops their engineering and commercial applications. Registration or licensing may be required.

Fast Facts

  • Avg. Weekly Pay

    Unavailable
  • Future Growth

    stable
  • Skill Level

    Bachelor Degree or higher
  • Employment Size

    7,200
  • Unemployment

    below average
  • Male Share

    74.8%
  • Female Share

    25.2%
  • Full-Time Share

    88.2%

Find Vacancies

This is a small occupation employing 7200 workers. Over the past 5 years the number of jobs has grown strongly.
Little change in the number of jobs is expected in the future. New jobs and turnover from workers leaving may create up to 5,000 job openings over the 5 years to 2020.

  • Chemical and Materials Engineers work in most parts of Australia.
  • They mainly work in: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services; Manufacturing; and Mining.
  • Full-time work is very common. Full-time workers, on average, work 41.0 hours per week (compared to the all jobs average of 40 hours).
  • The average age is 45 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years) and around 5 in 10 workers are aged 45 years or older.
  • Around 7 in 10 workers are male.
  • In 2016, the unemployment rate was below average.

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Employment trend data to November 2015 and Department of Employment projections to 2020.
YearNumber of Workers
20054300
20064400
20074600
20086100
20096000
20106600
20116500
20125600
20134200
20146600
20157200
20207200

Weekly Earnings

Full-time Earnings

All Jobs Average

Weekly Earnings (before tax)

No data is available for the selected graph for this Occupation.

Hours

Weekly Hours Worked

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Hours actually worked by people who usually work full-time, and share of employment by full-time and part-time status, for this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryChemical and Materials EngineersAll Jobs Average
Full-time88.268.4
Part-time11.831.6
Average Weekly Hours (full-time)41.040.0

Main Industries

Top Industries

Main Employing Industries (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services30.0
Manufacturing29.1
Mining17.6
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services11.8
Other Industries11.5

States and Territories

  • NSW

  • VIC

  • QLD

  • SA

  • TAS

  • NT

  • ACT

Employment by State and Territory (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
StateChemical and Materials EngineersAll Jobs Average
NSW27.931.8
VIC21.325.5
QLD23.119.8
SA7.76.8
WA17.711.2
TAS0.02.0
NT1.41.1
ACT0.91.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age BracketChemical and Materials EngineersAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
15-190.0-5.45.4
20-240.0-9.99.9
25-3419.8-23.423.4
35-4427.6-21.721.7
45-5427.3-21.121.1
55-5916.0-8.78.7
60-644.2-5.95.9
65 and Over5.2-3.83.8

Gender

Male Share

Female Share

Gender (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Male and female share of employment in this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryChemical and Materials EngineersCategoryAll Jobs Average
Males74.8Males53.6
Females25.2Females46.4

Education Level

Top Education Levels

Highest Level of Education (% share)

Source: ABS, Education and Work (2016). Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Skill level requirements can change over time, the qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Type of QualificationChemical and Materials EngineersAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate27.1-8.68.6
Bachelor degree72.9-17.917.9
Advanced Diploma/Diploma0.0-10.110.1
Certificate III/IV0.0-18.918.9
Year 120.0-18.718.7
Years 11 & 100.0-17.717.7
Below Year 100.0-8.18.1

A Bachelor Degree or higher is required. Nearly all workers have a university. Sometimes relevant experience or on-the-job training is also needed. Registration or licensing may also be required.

If you are interested in this style of work, there are a wide range of training options available that could lead to this or a similar job.
The pathway that is right for you will depend on your skills and interests.

It is a good idea to speak to industry bodies, employers, and workers to learn more about the skills and qualifications you will need.

Employers look for Chemical and Materials Engineers who can work well in a team, communicate clearly with a diverse range of people and provide good customer service.

Knowledge

The topics, subjects, or knowledge areas workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Engineering and Technology

    98% Important

    Use engineering science and technology to design and produce goods and services.

  2. Chemistry

    90% Important

    Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change. Danger signs and disposal methods.

  3. Mathematics

    87% Important

    Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.

  4. Physics

    80% Important

    Physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.

  5. Production and Processing

    77% Important

    Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.

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Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.

Activities

The work activities workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Making Decisions and Solving Problems

    92% Important

    Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.

  2. Analyzing Data or Information

    89% Important

    Looking at, working with, and understanding data or information.

  3. Getting Information

    89% Important

    Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.

  4. Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Staff

    88% Important

    Giving information to supervisors, co-workers, and staff by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

  5. Interacting With Computers

    88% Important

    Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.

Occupational Information Network Chemical Engineers Opens in a new window
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

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