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Chemical and environmental engineering

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Chemical engineering touches everything we do! It is the development of raw materials to useful products, the transformation of one thing to another. Chemical engineers create and optimise the systems and processes responsible for these transformations.

Environmental engineering is about providing a healthy environment for the world’s population and reducing the effect of adverse environmental factors.  Environmental engineers work to improve recycling, waste disposal or air and water pollution control processes.

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What do chemical and environmental engineers do?

What does a chemical engineer do?

Chemical engineering is all about turning raw materials into useful, everyday products. The clothes we wear, the food and drink we consume and the energy we use all depend upon chemical engineering.

Chemical engineers work out the processes to make all these products, while also helping to manage the world's resources, protect the environment and ensure health and safety standards are met.

Most jobs in the sector fall into one of two groups: the design, manufacture, and operation of plants and machinery, or the development of new or adapted substances and materials.

(Source:The Guardian Graduate Insights)

Your responsibilities might include:

  • Ensuring a process or plant works at maximum productivity
  • Designing plants, processes or equipment
  • Researching new products and new technologies

You could be working in a lab, office or processing plant.

What does an environmental engineer do?

As an environmental engineer you will use your engineering background to find solutions to complex environmental problems.

You may be working on issues such as climate change, drought, urbanisation, waste disposal and recycling, controlling environmental hazards and soil, water or air pollution. (Source: Prospects).

Your responsibilities could include:

  • Gathering data through site assessments and environmental monitoring
  • Evaluating environmental impact
  • Writing and presenting project proposals regarding environmental issues
  • Liaising with and providing advice to with stakeholders about environmental issues

A degree in chemical or environmental engineering will allow you to apply for roles as a graduate chemical or environmental engineer.

The qualification will also provide you with the education base to work towards Incorporated Engineer (BEng) or Chartered Engineer (MEng) status through the Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) or the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) which can be a good way of demonstrating and accrediting your professional competence as an engineer once you start in the workplace.



Explore more... 

Careers within the environmental sector - written by our advisers

Prospects – chemical engineer job profile

Prospects - environmental engineer job profile

TARGETjobs - chemical (process) engineer job description


Who employs chemical and environmental engineers?

As a chemical or environmental engineering graduate there are a number of employment sectors which you could consider. 

  • Chemicals (organisations such as Ineos, Croda, Dow)
  • Energy (Uniper, E.ON or Sellafield)
  • Engineering or environmental consultancy (KBR, RPS Group)
  • Food and Drink production (eg Mondelez, British Sugar)
  • Fast-moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) (Unilever, Mars, Proctor & Gamble)
  • Oil and Gas (BP, Exxon, Total)
  • Pharmaceuticals (GSK, Astra Zeneca, Pfizer, Smith & Nephew)
  • Recycling and waste management (Veolia, Suez Environment)
  • Water (Severn Trent, Thames Water)

Explore where Nottingham graduates work 


Where do I look for graduate and internship vacancies?

Start your job and internship search on MyCareer - we advertise hundreds of engineering roles including graduate positions, year-long placements and internships.

MyCareer - vacancies targeted at University of Nottingham students and graduates

Chemical engineering job boards

IChemE - find an accredited training scheme

Oil and Gas Job Search

Society for the Environment

The Chemical Engineer

Engineering recruitment agencies

ARM Recruitment


Rise Technical Recruitment

STEM Graduates

Engineering job boards

Engineering Jobs




Just Engineers




The Engineer Jobs

Speculative applications

For smaller companies or more specialist roles, a speculative approach may be useful.  Research companies (rather than jobs) that you are interested in joining and consider how you could network with these organisations. You could send your CV and a covering letter speculatively, follow the company on LinkedIn or even approach someone on LinkedIn and ask for advice.


How do I increase my chances of success during the recruitment process?

An important part of increasing your employability for any sector of work is developing your commercial awareness. This means having a good understanding of the industry as a whole, key employers, and developments.

Commercial awareness is particularly important during the recruitment process as companies will expect you have knowledge and understanding in this area. Specific questions may be asked or you can impress them by weaving your understanding of the company or sector into your answers. 

Find out more about commercial awareness

For the chemical and environmental engineering sectors, good sources of commercial awareness information include the following. Use the news tab to explore developments.

Engineering UK 2020 report PDF file icon

Society of Environmental Engineers

TARGETjobs - chemical engineering industry overview

The Chemical Engineer

The Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE)


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