Chemical engineering is one of the more lucrative branches of engineering to get into. These engineers generally have high salaries and high employment. However, it can be tough to find exact information about this career. Our experts have done the deep diving for you, and here’s the short answer: the average chemical engineer makes around $80k per year. (Keep reading for more salary stats.)

chemical engineer salaries

But before you can work as a chemical engineer, you’ll want to earn your Fundamentals of Engineering FE certification. This requires you to complete a 4-year engineering degree before passing a 110 certification exam. A full breakdown of what’s on the exam can be found here.

Now that we’ve gotten the prerequisites out of the way, we can discuss what you’re really interested in.

Average Salaries for Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers generally make an average of $81,000 each year. This includes payment from a base salary, yearly bonuses, profit sharing, and more. However, this doesn’t account for any stock, healthcare benefits, or retirement benefits that come with your career. With this in mind, the pay for chemical engineers is actually much higher than it appears.

Entry Level Salaries for Chemical Engineers

You shouldn’t expect to be instantly making over $80k a year when first starting your career as a chemical engineer. However, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be impoverished or live paycheck to paycheck. In fact, even entry-level chemical engineers make a great deal of money.

Payscale reports that entry-level chemical engineering positions pay an average of $71,799 each year, or $34.50 an hour. That kind of pay makes for a comfortable living as you build up experience and work towards higher-paying positions. It’s at this point that most successful chemical engineers allocate some time and money toward earning a Professional Engineer (PE) certification in chemical engineering. Having this certification proves your skill in the field and will naturally lead to higher pay.

What is Chemical Engineering?

Highest Salaries for Chemical Engineers

More experienced chemical engineers can expect to make much higher salaries. Late career salaries for chemical engineers average at $129,925 a year or $62.46 per hour. These types of salaries are usually reserved for senior engineers and management positions. But for this, you usually need a PE certification in chemical engineering.

Top Employers for Chemical Engineers

Now that you know what to expect from your salary, it’s time to start looking into the top employers for chemical engineers. Luckily, there’s plenty of information out there for chemical engineering jobs of all experience levels. 

Best Entry-Level Chemical Engineering Jobs

Currently, the 3 biggest employers for entry-level chemical engineers are Intel, Samsung Electronics, and CDM Smith. Indeed currently lists these employers as having the most open positions for chemical engineers. 

Salary estimates for these companies tend to be between $60-70k a year. There are some notable exceptions that go as high as $80k, but anything beyond that point is very rare. Many of these jobs also come with signing bonuses, which is good if you need to relocate for your career.

Indeed also shows that most chemical engineer job positions come from Houston, Austin, Phoenix, Hillsboro, and San Diego. Keep in mind that some of these areas (such as San Diego or Hillsboro) have a very high cost of living.

Best Mid-Level Chemical Engineering Jobs

There’s a bit of overlap between companies that look for entry and mid-level chemical engineers. Indeed states that the 3 companies with the most mid-level chemical engineering positions are PROAMPAC, Intel, and Samsung Electronics.

Mid-range chemical engineering positions have the widest range of salaries due to the varying amounts of experience required for each position. Typically, salaries at this experience level range between $75k-90k.

Postings on Indeed for this experience level show that most jobs are in Houston, Austin, San Diego, Rochester, and Hillsboro. As stated above, many of these areas have a very high cost of living, so make sure you look into where you’ll be working.

Best Senior-Level Chemical Engineering Jobs

Positions at this level are much rarer and have a different focus compared to other positions. Burns & McDonnell, CDM Smith, and Barry Wehmiller are currently the 3 biggest senior-level chemical engineering employers on Indeed.

Salaries for this experience level are very high. Most of the positions here pay above $100k a year. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see jobs with annual pay as high as $120k.

Right now, the 5 best locations for work as a senior chemical engineer are Houston, San Diego, Phoenix, Chicago, and Seattle.

Job Outlook for Chemical Engineers

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for chemical engineers will grow by 9% by the year 2030. For comparison, this is slightly faster than the overall average for all occupations. This is largely due to increased demand for chemical engineers as manufacturing industries continue to expand into new products and fields.

Chemical engineers will also be needed for their expertise in fields such as alternative energies, nanotechnology, and biotechnology. All in all, the future is looking pretty bright for any prospective chemical engineer.


Q: What does a chemical engineer do?

A: Chemical engineering can apply to a very wide range of fields. This is because their work focuses on creating processes for the production of materials. This can apply to just about any product, so they’re in high demand.

Q: What degree do you need to be a chemical engineer?

A: You’re going to need a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a related field to become a chemical engineer. This is one of the requirements for earning your FE and PE certifications.

Q: How long does it take to become a chemical engineer?

A: It will take a minimum of 4 years to meet the requirements for entry level chemical engineering jobs. After that it’s just a matter of building up experience and earning certifications.

Kenneth W. Boyd is a former Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and the author of several of the popular "For Dummies" books published by John Wiley & Sons including 'CPA Exam for Dummies' and 'Cost Accounting for Dummies'.

Ken has gained a wealth of business experience through his previous employment as a CPA, Auditor, Tax Preparer and College Professor. Today, Ken continues to use those finely tuned skills to educate students as a professional writer and teacher.