The chemical and petrochemical industries are a major source of jobs for engineering staff, as the UK is acknowledged as being among the world leaders in both sectors.
There are a wide variety of engineering roles available within the industries, but employers always look for highly-skilled staff due to the value of the work and the health and safety challenges faced. Typically, workers are either educated to at least degree level or have achieved recognised specialist qualifications.
Production plants all need coded welders, fitters and pipework engineers to carry out installations and routine maintenance work. Salaries are usually in the range of £28,000 to £35,000 plus shift allowances, but employers look for staff with more than five years' experience rather than workers who have recently completed apprenticeships.
People with chemical, process or mechanical engineering degrees can secure employment as a graduate trainee, with a starting salary in the region of £28,000. They can then specialise as a piping designer, project manager, production, process, pressure vessel, pipe stress or materials engineer. Experienced staff can earn in excess of £50,000 a year, while chartered engineers can expect annual remuneration packages worth more than £60,000.
The major employers are chemical manufacturers and oil refiners, although engineering consultancies and equipment makers also have jobs for engineers. Many of them are based in the north-east of England, where around 190,000 people are employed in the two sectors.
Most of the permanent jobs and contract positions in the chemical and petrochemical industries are advertised and filled by specialist recruitment agencies, as the skills required are in short supply.