Chemical engineers are responsible for the manufacture of new chemicals. A biochemical engineer is a sub-discipline of chemical engineering that involves the engineering of chemicals that are specific to living organisms. The discipline thus requires the knowledge of biological chemical processes, and requires at least a bachelor's degree.
National Salary Scales
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009, the mean hourly wage for chemical engineers was £28.6 an hour, which equates to a mean annual wage of £59,585. The median was £27.5 an hour, or £57,382 a year. Ten per cent made less than £36,458 a year, and 25 per cent made less than £45,727 a year. Another 25 per cent made £70,505 or more, and 10 per cent made £86,437 or more.
Salaries by Industry
The highest paying industries specific to biochemical engineering in 2009 were the management, scientific and technical consulting services sector, with an average of £66,898 a year. This was followed by the scientific research and development services sector and the federal executive branch, each offering £63,609 and £63,576 a year on average. The industry that employed the largest number of chemical engineers with a focus on biochemical engineering was the basic chemical manufacturing sector, followed by the scientific research and development services sector and the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing sector.
Salaries by State and Metropolitan Area
The highest chemical engineer salaries in 2009 were in Alaska, with an annual mean wage of £81,783 a year. This was followed by Delaware, Idaho, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia, the last of which had an annual average salary of £67,743 a year. The highest paid metropolitan area for chemical engineers was San Antonio, TX, with an average of £80,294 a year, followed by the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA area, the Wilmington metropolitan division, DE, the Denver-Aurora, CO area and the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA area.
Qualifications and Outlook
A bachelor's degree with a background in chemistry, biochemistry or biology is usually required as a minimum for entry into this field. Courses with a heavy emphasis of chemical design and laboratory work are especially valued. A graduate degree in chemical engineering is also an asset. After some experience in the field, biochemical engineers graduate from performing more routine tasks to take on more specialised and challenging roles. Some sectors specialise entirely in biochemical engineering, while others will concentrate on both chemical and biochemical fields.
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