Chemical and Materials Engineers
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.
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
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers:
- is expected to grow moderately
- is likely to reach 7,600 by 2026.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 88% of people employed as Chemical and Materials Engineers work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 22 percentage points above the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 44 hours per week in their main job. This is the same as the all jobs average.
Sources:Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average.
Chemical and Materials Engineers work in industries like:
- Professional, scientific and technical services
- Electricity, gas, water and waste services.
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Chemical and Materials Engineers||All Jobs Average|
Around 74% of Chemical and Materials Engineers live in capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 62%.
Western Australia has a large share of employment relative to its population size.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Chemical and Materials Engineers is 38 years. This is similar to the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 25 to 34 years.
Females make up 20% of the workforce. This is 28 percentage points below the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Chemical and Materials Engineers||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||3.5||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
A bachelor degree in materials, chemical, biochemical or process engineering is needed to work as a Chemical or Materials Engineer. Many workers have a postgraduate qualification.
Registration may be required in some states and territories. In addition, Engineers Australia has a non-compulsory National Engineering Register.
- Course Seeker to search and compare higher education courses.
- ComparED to compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Chemical and Materials Engineers||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||27.7||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||0.3||12.5|
Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Skills and Knowledge
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.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Using maths to solve problems.
Understanding needs and product requirements to create a design.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
66%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
Reading work related information.
Measuring how well a system is working and how to improve it.
63%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect it.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
Talking to others.
Writing things for co-workers or customers.
Figuring out why a machine or system went wrong and working out what to do about it.
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
52%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Teaching people how to do something.
Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
94%Engineering and technology
Use engineering, science and technology to design and produce goods and services.
Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
The physical laws of matter, motion and energy, and how they interact through space and time.
Design techniques, tools, and principles used to make detailed technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
71%Production and processing
Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.
65%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
65%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
64%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, how they rely on and work with each other and the environment.
52%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
52%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
47%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
46%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
46%Sales and marketing
Showing, promoting, and selling including marketing strategy, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
45%Economics and accounting
Economics and accounting, the financial markets, banking and checking and reporting of financial data.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
37%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Listen to and understand what people say.
Read and understand written information.
Come up with different ways of grouping things.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Communicate by speaking.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
66%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
Come up with unusual or clever ideas, or creative ways to solve a problem.
64%Working with numbers
Add, subtract, multiply, or divide.
Choose the right maths method or formula to solve a problem.
Write in a way that people can understand.
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Imagine how something will look after it is moved around or changed.
Come up with a number of ideas about a topic, even if the ideas aren't very good.
52%Flexibility of closure
See a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) hidden in other distracting material.
See details that are far away.
Use your eyes to quickly compare groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
82%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
81%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
79%Collecting and organising information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or checking information or data.
Using your own ideas for developing, designing, or creating something new.
78%Making sense of information and ideas
Looking at, working with, and understanding data or information.
77%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
77%Giving expert advice
Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups.
77%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
77%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
74%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
74%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
71%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
71%Scheduling work and activities
Working out the timing of events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
70%Explaining things to people
Helping people to understand and use information.
69%Leading and encouraging a team
Encouraging and building trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
67%Working with computers
Using computers to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
67%Coming up with systems and processes
Deciding on goals and figuring out what you need to do to achieve them.
67%Documenting or recording information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
63%Checking compliance with standards
Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
60%Estimating amounts, costs and resources
Working out sizes, distances, amounts, time, costs, resources, or materials needed for a task.
Interests and demands
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.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Use electronic mail.
96%Indoors, heat controlled
Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.
Talk on the telephone.
Talk with people face-to-face.
Work with people in a group or team.
82%Wear common protective or safety equipment
Wear equipment like safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets.
81%Health and safety of others
Take responsibility for the health and safety of others.
80%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
79%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
78%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
78%Impact of decisions
Make decisions that have a large impact on other people.
77%Letters and memos
Write letters and memos.
75%Consequence of error
Work where mistakes have serious consequences.
74%Spend time sitting
Spend time sitting at work.
Work to strict deadlines.
Compete with others, or be aware of competitive pressures.
68%Responsible for outcomes
Take responsibility for the results of other people's work.
66%Frequent decision making
Frequently make decisions that impact other people.
66%Lead or coordinate a team
Lead others to do work activities.
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 17-2041.00 - Chemical Engineers.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.