Royal Australian Chemical Institute

NSW Branch

Profiles of Chemists


Chemists - the people behind the profession

Link to "Quiz a Chemist"
We have received several requests for profiles of "real" chemists, so to help you with your requests, below is some information from real people. We hope to develop a separate page for this information in the near future, and update the profiles on a regular basis.

a) Famous Australian Chemists

To learn more about the people listed above, we recommend you do a web search on each name.


b) Where do chemists work?

We have received a number of general questions on careers of a chemist. Hopefully the information below will help address those queries.

Possible career paths you could take as a chemist include in research, industry, forensic, teaching and more. To name just a few areas where chemists are employed:

* Agriculture, * Drug design and development, * Food processing, * Cosmetics, * Journalism, * Environmental Protection

* Mining, * Health Care, * Art Restoration, * Defence, * Polymer Science, * Fuel Science, * Metallurgy, * Atomic Energy

* Forensic Science, * Archaeology, * Medical Research, * Patent Law


Many questions have been raised about the specific requirements for being a PLATING chemist, or a POLYMER chemist or a SOLID STATE chemist, and more. In very broad terms, a chemist will work in industry (and the nature of each industry will be specific, so a plastics factory will require a polymer chemist, the steel industry would do well with a plating chemist, and so on), or teaching or academia, or as an analyst, and in all instances will require a minimum training of a BSC, probably with a major in chemistry. In many cases, once employed for several years in a given area or specialty, with or without further formal education, that chemist will then automatically become a specialist in his or her field. Obviously if the chemist goes on with post graduate studies and is awarded a PhD, then that person is recognised for their field of expertise sooner than someone who has not done this.

If you were seeking employment as an INDUSTRIAL CHEMIST working as the Laboratory Manager, you should consider the following:

Undergraduate studies required: BSc in Chemistry, which can be obtained from all the major universities with in Australia.

Additional studies that may be undertaken by someone in this position are computing, project management, or even a double major in forensic science or law

Employers of an undustrial chemist would include manufacturing companies requiring laboratory chemists. The career path would normally start at the technician stage, and slowly making your way to the top of the lab.

Skills required for the Laboratory Manager's job include experience, diversity in laboratory techniques, and showing an ability to manage people and run a business.

Accomplishments important to gain in the field could include specialist expertise in a given field of chemistry, involvement with various committees (eg: Occupational Health and Safety, Quality)


c) Jeff Kaufman MRACI

Jeff Kaufman has a Chemical Engineering degree with specialisation in Microbiology and Biotechnology. I started in the pharmaceutical industry as a formulation and process development chemist at the R&D laboratories of Nicholas International in Melbourne. At that time I patented a process for the manufacture of an antacid active ingredient.

I have worked since that time as formulation development manager (Melbourne), factory manager (Jakarta, Indonesia) and R&D manager with world-wide and regional responsibility for multinational pharmaceutical companies (Nicholas, Gaillard, France near Geneva Switzerland and Utrecht, Netherlands; Sterling Health Europe, Paris, France).

Since 1994 I am president of Yarra SA ( http://www.yarra.fr ) an European Contract Service Organisations based on the French Riviera. Yarra specialises in Self-medication including Herbal Medicines for the European Market with offices in France and U.K.

Yarra's main activities are:

* regulatory writing (writing, assembly and submission of MA files)

* product development management

* analytical and stability

* clinical support

* Rx to OTC switch

* technology evaluation and strategic studies (including R&D organisation)

* product licensing and acquisition


I am a regular lecturer at Universities in France and an occasional speaker at international conferences. My chemistry training has permitted me to enjoy an international career path with a varied technical content." I have kept my links with Australia (hence the Yarra company name).


d) Dr Jaroslav Boublik

Dr Jaroslav Boublik completed a B.Sc. (Hons) in Chemistry at Monash University and then moved over to the Department of Medicine at Prince Henry's Hospital and completed a Ph.D in Medicine specialising in Neuroendocrinology. He completed pos-docs in peptide chemistry in Shanghai, China and at The Salk Institute in La Jolla California before returning to Australia to head the Peptide Chemistry Laboratory at the Baker Medical Research Institute. Jaroslav left academic research to start Australia's first complementary medicine R&D consulting company - AquaConneXions Pty. Ltd. where he is Scientific Director. When asked about his work Jaroslav says "Being in a small business has it's challenges and remaining focussed on the research with so many other jobs to do is one of them. I love the independence of my own small company and have ambitions but growing big is not one of them. Cutting edge research is always changing and a small company can be very responsive".


e) Dr Max E. Tate, Retired

Born in 1932 and retired in 1998. Career Interests: Structures of biologically active molecules. At my age I now have the benefit of hindsight over nearly half a century of my inextinguishable interest in the structure and chemistry of biologically active molecules. Starting with an MSc (1954) on synthetic Anthelmintics at Sydney University with Cymerman-Craig a short (9 months) but invaluable stint in industry, thence to the UNSW for a PhD (1956-1960) with Stephen Angyal on the chemistry and stereochemistry of inositol phosphates, followed by a two year post doc in Canada showing what a powerful tool TLC would be prove to be in organic chemistry. Thence to a lectureship (1964) at U. of Adelaide, Waite Campus to work on the application of biological chemistry to agriculture. A wonderful working relationship at the Waite with Allen Kerr (Plant pathologist and winner of the first Australia prize for his pioneer work on Crown gall) on the nucleotide bacteriocin (an antibiotic specific to tumour inducing plant pathogenic agrobacteria) started a lifelong friendship which endures today. Later work (1985-1987) with Mansour Ma'shum and Malcolm Oades (Soil Scientist and current Director ) on the causal agent (cuticular waxes) and the solution (clay amelioration) of the water repellent sands problem of southern Australia (clay additions have since transformed land usage in the S.E. of S.A. ). An exhilarating time with Lianhui Zhang and Allen Kerr (1993) identifying an N-acyl homoserine lactone as the conjugation factor for agrobacteria which ultimately led to a whole host of N-acyl homoserine lactones of differing chain length being recognised as so-called bacterial quorum sensing factors . With age and a tenured University position I could also afford to have a social conscience (1992, 1996 and 1999) my nefarious whistle blowing activities with Dirk Enneking (http://www.general.uwa.edu.au/u/enneking/VETCH.htm) whilst intensely annoying to the industry concerned, exposed the deceptive practises of Australia's entrepreneurial vetch exports to third world countries. It was a toxic red split vetch (Vicia sativa) and contained 1.1% of a known neurotoxin and was exported as a cheap substitute for the red lentil which is part of the staple diet for millions in vegetarian societies! I am currently following up unfinished business including the molecule involved in Boron transport in the phloem of plants and a peptide bacteriocin produced by Trifolium leguminosarum strain T24. What would I do if I was starting again? Try to figure out what was the molecular basis for memory.


f) Gemma Thompson, FRACI B.App.Sc.App.Chem, QIT (now QUT)

Gemma Thompson is currently working for the RACI (Royal Australian Chemical Institute) NSW Branch. Part of her role is to facilitate an understanding of chemistry in the non-scientific community and to assist students and teachers in their learning. One aspect of this is to arrange visits to the sites of chemical enterprises, during National Chemistry Week.

Gemma has ten years of experience working in the plastics industry for ICA/ ORICA/QENOS including time as Lab manager in the polypropylene factory. She was on the commissioning team for the introduction of Linear Low Density Polythene (LLPD) or Alkatuff. This manufacturing process is a clean, fuel efficient technology requiring low pressure and temperature operation. By contrast the Alkathene, process making LDPE (GladWrap,) requires high temperatures and pressures in a less safe autoclave.

As a part of the team Gemma used computers to predict properties of the polymers based on different co-polymers, stabilisers, temperatures and catalysts. Experiments were then carried out using reactor resins from a Japanese manufacturer, requiring design and test procedures. Forty final products were made from the fifteen basic resins.

At the start of a new plant, it is necessary to buy in tonnes of seed resin from another reactor and tests must be made to know its composition and properties. As there are mandatory shutdowns for maintenance a supply of seed resin must be kept for future start-ups.

During manufacture, it is essential to have constant monitoring of the equipment to ensure that the required conditions and purity of reactants are maintained. An impurity can poison the catalyst and put the reactor on doze, or kill the reaction. A change in conditions can also seriously affect the properties of the product.

Quality control is carried out at the end of the product line to ensure that the product meets customer requirements. A quick test of melt viscosity and density gives an initial result. Other tests include tear strength, slipping, (to allow movement along conveyor belts), antiblocking agents, (so the plastic sheets do not stick together too much). Some physical tests take twenty four hours so quick tests are relied on to enable rapid service.

The chemist must also evaluate formulae proposed by the product development section of the company including problems of contamination, bagging the product, the flow rate through the extruder, slippage and economy of production. This requires coordination with the chemical engineers.

Prior to ICI Gemma worked in a nnumber of other places, namely CSIRO Division of Soils in Adelaide, Griffith University, Queensland University and CSIRO Meat Research Laboratory, all in the capacity of research assistant on a wide variety of projects.


g) Robert Evans FRACI(Environmental Chemist working at Orica Ltd, Botany, Sydney)

I am in contact with a considerable number of environmental chemists through industry associations as well as those here at Botany Industrial Park. We are all different, in that our spread of activities reflects the concerns of our worksite. My comments, therefore, reflect the complexity of this corner of Sydney and are based on personal experience.

1. Day to day duties of an environmental chemist:

* review operation of effluent water treatment systems and compliance with Sydney Water requirements

* review compliance with EPA environmental noise standards

* assess levels of potential contamination in wastes (eg soil) intended for landfill disposal and classify them in accordance with EPA guidelines

* manage disposal of contaminated wastes

* investigate reports of contamination in soil or groundwater to determine source and then arrange to correct it.

* determine whether ventings or stack emissions contain unacceptable levels of regulated materials

* advise engineers/managers of corrective actions needed if any of the above parameters show faults in systems

* answer public or professional enquiries or complaints regarding environmental performance

* calculate emission statistics for periodic external reporting

* prepare periodic reports and presentations

* represent employer at professional and trade association meetings


2. Chemical principles used by a chemist (working as an "environmental engineer"):

* State and Federal environmental legislation

* Valid sampling

* Analysis of the samples using techniques valid for the type of sample, its matrix and the concentration of the analytes in question

* Statistics

* Deep understanding of the factors that could interfere with the analysis and provide erroneous results

* Understanding of the purpose of any analysis, the precision and accuracy required for each determination

* Understanding of the context of, and reason for, each investigation

* Understanding of the system being sampled and analysed, so that, if faults are found, appropriate corrrective action may be planned and advised to engineers/managers

* Site history, particularly former manufacturing processes and soil/groundwater contamination patterns

* Site geology and groundwater flow patterns

* Deep understanding of the site stormwater and effluent drainage systems

* Occupational hygiene standards (TLVs, STELs, etc)

* Dangerous goods classification, transport and storage regulations


3. Brief personal history of an environmental chemist (me!).

* 1968-73 Cadet/trainee chemist with NSWGR

* 1974-89 Professional chemist in NSW Railway laboratories

* experience in wet and instrumental analysis of ferrous and non-ferrous alloys, soaps, detergents, corrosion control, microscopy, occupational hygiene, fuels and lubricants

* 1980: Secondment to Mechanical Branch design office to assist in preparation of maintenance instructions for then-new XPTs

* 1983-4: Secondment to Mechanical Branch Contract Section to manage rolling stock purchase and repair contracts

* 1984: Took over effluent laboratory and responsibility for efficient operation of over 80 effluent water treatment plants across NSW

* 1985-6: Relieved SRA Environment Engineer in all pollution control activities across NSW

* 1989: Left SRA to join ICI (now Orica) as Environment Engineer for Botany Site

* Now: Site Environment Engineer, Botany Industrial Park, advising on environmental aspects of air, noise, water, soil, groundwater and waste management. (see Sections 1 and 2 above for details)

* 2001: Appointed as Australian Industry Group representative on Industrial Customer Council of Sydney Water Corporation.


h) Kirsten Benkendorff MRACI

Kirsten is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow & Coordinator of the Marine Bioprospecting Initiative, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia. She won Young Australian of the Year for Science and Technology, 2000, and NSW Young Australian of the Year for the Environment, 2001.

I am a multi-disciplinary researcher working in the fields of natural products chemistry, microbiology and marine biology. The aim of my research is to discover novel antibiotics from marine organisms. There is no such thing as a "typical day" for me. I could be in a biohazard laboratory running antimicrobial assays against pathogenic bacteria, out on a rock platform collecting marine organisms or in a chemistry laboratory running samples through high-powered analytical instruments. I also spend a lot of time in front of a computer, writing papers, preparing lectures and some times presentations for international conferences. I really enjoy the diversity of my work, it is challenging but very self-rewarding. There is nothing more satisfying than determining the structure of an unknown compound that could prove useful as a new medicinal agent. It is also fascinating to observe the creatures that produce these chemicals in their natural habitats. I get a lot of my inspiration from being out in the marine environment and I love the fact that I am learning from nature. I also appreciate the freedom that I have to control the direction of my research by designing experiments test my own ideas.

For me, the most exciting thing about scientific research is the opportunity to make new discoveries and to contribute to our general knowledge of life on earth. Because I am a multi-disciplinary research, I have been able to advance our understanding of both the biological and chemical diversity of Australian marine organisms. I am equally motivated by the potential to record a new species or identify a new biologically active compound.

The main disadvantage in being an independent researcher at an academic institute is that it is difficult to get long-term funding. There is a lot of strong competition for research grants in Australia and these are usually only given out as three-year contracts. The salaries will typically be lower than those offered for research chemists in industry. However, I believe this is compensated for by self-satisfaction of directing your own research.

My research contributes to science by increasing our understanding of invertebrate defense mechanisms. It challenges some common assumptions about the lack of chemical defense in shelled molluscs. I have demonstrated that a wide range of molluscs (slugs and snails) produce antibacterial agents, both as a part of their basic immune system and to protect their egg masses. My research also contributes to science by optimizing useful methodologies, such as antimicrobial assays and procedures to isolate small organic compounds from marine extracts. I have also tested methods for the rapid assessment of molluscan species richness on intertidal reefs and developed a system to determine the rarity of intertidal molluscs. My interest in biological diversity and concern for the potential environmental impacts of scientific research has lead to recommendations for the collection of biological specimens, which includes a code of ethics for natural products chemists.

My research contributes to society by providing novel leads for the development of new antibacterial agents. This is important because many bacteria have evolved resistant to the conventional antibiotics. The discovery of potential antibiotics from natural organisms can also increase appreciation for organisms such as slugs and snails in the general community and provides an incentive for their conservation. Along with my biodiversity research this should facilitate the sustainable management of marine biodiversity. In five years time I hope to be directing a small team of researchers and post-graduate students to continue investigations into the biological and chemical diversity of Australian marine organisms. I also hope to establish productive collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry to facilitate research and development of novel antibacterial agents. My career may also lead to a full-time lecturing position at University. I enjoy teaching and other academic duties, although they can be very time-consuming, limiting the amount of research that can be simultaneously undertaken. Ultimately, I expect that I will remain involved in academia, rather than moving into an industry research position, although there would probably be opportunities in pharmaceutical companies.

I completed a B.Sc. (honours) degree at Macquarie University in 1995, with a major in biology but undertook interdisciplinary research projects for my honours. I then obtained a APA scholarship to undertake a Ph.D. at the University of Wollongong and enrolled in the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry. In 1999 I obtained my Ph.D. in biology and chemistry. I then worked as a research assistant on a chemical ecology project for a few months before being offered a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Wollongong. I hold a 2001 postdoctoral research fellowship from the Australian Research Council. Before one can undertake postdoctoral research at a university it is necessary to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree and a Ph.D.

I think my success as a young scientist has resulted from a mix personal traits that have lead me to dedicate myself to a career in research. Firstly, I am passionate about the natural environment and have an insatiable curiosity about the evolution of life on earth. This means that I am a willing student of the natural world and happily devote most of my time towards research. Secondly, I like a challenge and will persist with a problem until it is resolved. These are important characteristics for identifying unknown organic compounds! Thirdly, I have good analytical skills and I am also reasonably creative. Creativity encourages scientists to break away from the usual pattern and try something new. I have taken an uncommon multidisciplinary approach in my research, which I believe has fostered creativity by allowing me draw on the knowledge, tools and techniques in chemistry and apply these to solve biological problems. I can also draw on my knowledge of marine organisms to target suitable species for chemical studies.

At school I enjoyed organic chemistry and was fascinated by the fact that all life was built on a few basic elements. However, my best subject was maths (especially 4 unit) as I enjoyed the problem solving challenges it provided. I found inorganic chemistry completely uninspiring at school and preferred art to all sciences. Nevertheless, I decided to do a B.Sc. because I thought it would provide better career opportunities. Although I was perhaps better at maths and chemistry, I majored in biology because I could see the practical applications of this discipline more clearly. I didn't reconsider a career in organic chemistry until my honours year when I discovered that natural organisms are chemists of superhuman skill!


i) Mr Thomas Denis Rice; BSc, MSc, Grad Dip Ed

After graduating from Sydney University in 1962, I was employed by the NSW Department of Mineral Resources as an analytical geochemist. In 1968, I was promoted to Senior Analytical Geochemist and Program Manager. From 1975 to 1992, while working for the Department of Mineral Resources, I also did some part time teaching at TAFE in Diploma of Applied Science subjects.

In 1992 I made a dramatic change and worked for several months in Madang, Papua New Guinea, as Chief Chemist for Astrolabe P/L. After this I returned to Sydney as a consultant in Analytical Chemistry while continuing with part time teaching at UTS, TAFE and a number of schools (high, primary and infants). I worked in this capacity for two years, and then in late 1994, I moved to Myanmar (Burma) where I worked as Chief Geochemist for Ivanhoe Myanmar Holdings Ltd until the end of 1997.

After this, until April 2001, I set up a consulting business as an Analytical Geochemist and Metallurgical Chemist. When time permitted in this business, I continued part time teaching. In April 2001 I became a full time teacher of Science at Katoomba High School.

In amongst my busy career as a scientist and teacher, I have a very active interest in the arts as a singer, guitarist and songwriter. I have set several poems to music, with a significant list of songs and musical settings which have been registered with the Australian Performing Right Association (APRA). For example, my musical setting of the poem "Adlestrop", said to be one of the best loved poems in the English language, was recently featured on a BBC Radio 4 documentary "No One Left and No One Came" (first broadcast on 28 June 2001) on how Edward Thomas in 1915 came to write "Adlestrop", and on the aftermath of this poem. So the myth of a scientist having tunnel vision on their science and living a life secluded from much of the rest of the world is just that a myth!

j) Robert Ryan FRACI

A graduate of UNSW: B.Sc. [Applied Chemistry Degree, School of Chemistry) and M.Sc. [High Temperature Molten Salt Research Thesis, School of Chemical Engineering & Industrial Chemistry].

Professional memberships include: Fellow of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute; Fellow of the Australian Institute of Food Science & Technology; Associate Fellow of the Australian Marketing Institute; Member of Entomology Society of NSW; Member of Australian Water & Wastewater Association; Member of the Institute of Brewing, UK. Current focus on sterilisation & fumigation has resulted in the granting of a number of international agricultural chemical patents, which involves the global transfer of novel fumigation technology.

Work experience includes:

Aromatic Chemicals (International Flavours & Fragrance) - formulating of industrial perfumes & essences from natural & synthetic aromatic chemicals. Focus on the natural chemistry ( e.g. terpenes chemistry) associated with natural and nature-identical (synthetic) perfumes & flavour chemicals.

Pharmaceuticals (Wholesale Drug Co) - formulation and quality control of galenicals (natural & synthetic drug extracts), tablets, cough mixtures, ointments and other medicinal products. These products needed to confirm to international pharmacopoeia standards and specification.

Household Detergents, Disinfectants & Insecticides (Scotts Detergents) - formulation and quality control of household detergents, disinfectants and insecticide products. Hydrocarbon raw material was sulphonated and liquid & powder detergents were manufactured. Disinfectants were formulated using synthetic and natural germicide chemicals. Emulsified Concentrate insecticides were formulated for eventual water based applications.

Research assistant and postgraduate student (School of Chemical Engineering & Industrial Chemistry, UNSW). Focus was on high temperature molten salt electrochemistry (e.g. Aluminium electowinning).

Industrial Gases - quality control and process application of a range of industrial gases (including air separation gases e.g. O2, N2, Ar, Kr, Ne, Xe; fuel gases e.g. C2H2, LPG, H2; electronic grade gases e.g. SiH4, B2H6, GeH4, PH3, AsH3; scientific gas He, high purity gases & mixtures. Experienced a variety of positions from laboratory to sales e.g. Chief Chemist, Technology Manager; Product Manager; Sales Manager; Marketing Manager; R&D Manager.


k) Vivienne Durell

I graduated with honours from UTS with a degree in Applied Chemistry (Forensic Science). I then began my PhD in the sourcing and chemical characterisation of Aboriginal ochres, this is being done in conjunction with archaeologists at the University of Wollongong to help research ancient Aboriginal trade routes and attachment to land. While undertaking this research I demonstrate/tutor chemistry to first year students in university laboratories. Another important association of mine is with the NSW RACI, where I am president of the Young Chemists' Committee.



l) Pat Rodgers

BSc FRACI-----Industrial Chemistry 1965 (Part Time Student)

My career tracks back some 44 years when I started as a 'part-time' student at UNSW in Industrial Chemistry where I struggled through while working full-time at A.C.Hatricks Pty Ltd. Most of that time I was working in a Production capacity in various plants that ran 24 hours a day, seven days a week and I was 'on call'. It was not too conducive to study but it was a great hands-on learning experience.

However, you will see from my Career Summary that I progressed through various stages of the Industry and made it to General Manager at both Applied Chemicals and Grace Dearborn (a Division of WRGrace). I elected to leave the corporate world in 1993 and started my own Consulting Business as I now choose to work and travel less.


Business Experience:

PJRodgers Consulting Pty Ltd

Currently working as an independent Technical Water Treatment & Corrosion Engineering Consultant. This has been predominantly in the "high rise" market but I have also done some industrial consulting. My work has been in site auditing, specification writing and corrosion engineering consulting.

In addition, I act as an Agent for Hydro-Chem Pty Ltd selling their products both directly in the market and also through Distributors


General Manager, Grace Dearborn

This was a three year contract that I was selected for following the acquisition of the Applied Chemicals Pty Ltd Water Treatment Division in August, 1990. Joining W.R Grace gave me the opportunity to gain experience with a "Fortune 500" global corporation, while establishing a business.

Grace Dearborn was a 50 person Sales and Marketing operation at the time of the acquisition with sales of $10 million.

I was a member of W R Grace Management in Australia and also a member of the "World" management team for Grace Dearborn.

APPLIED CHEMICALS PTY LTD 1972 - 1990 Group Manager - Sales & Marketing

Developed marketing strategies & sales plans, for the 3 Divisions under my control.

Directly oversaw several projects in SE Asia, the USA and England. In that capacity I assisted in the setting up & training of Distributors, for Water Treatment, in SE Asia. (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan). In addition, I set up the Applied Chemicals Water Treatment Division in England.

I made numerous trips to the USA involved searching for suitable "partners" for strategic business associations which included setting up Agreements for the Distribution of their Petroleum additives in Australia plus he setting up of the sale of the Applied water treatment business to WR Grace (ie the Grace Dearborn business).

Previous Experience : Worked for ACHatrick Pty Ltd while doing my Degree and following that I spent 4 years in the UK working for a chemical company and another year in the USA working for Hercules Inc

Professional Associations ­ Current:

1)An active Member of the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists & Managers of Australia (A.P.E.S.M.A.)

2)An active Member of the UNSW Alumni Association.

3) An active Member of RACI and 'Chair' of the NSW Consultants & Contractors Group

Overall, chemistry has been and continues to be fulfilling, rewarding and stimulating career for me; certainly, the right career path. However, life was perhaps easier in the 60's and 70's and there were more opportunities for budding chemists then there currently appears to be.

Chemical Engineers

What qualifications do you need to be come a chemical engineer?

Qualifications; Chemical Engineering is a degree course run in most states by accredited Universities (None in ACT) details in the Brochure ­ Broaden your horizons with Chemical engineering.

What is your job title and what qualifications do you need for your job and what if any other qualifications do you have?

The job title of chemical engineers is extremely variable such examples: Managing Director, CEO, General Manager, Dean of Engineering, Project Engineer, Plant Superintendant, Plant Engineer.

What wages would a chemical engineer expect to earn?

Wages: well this is very broad; At graduation wages will vary from about $30,000 increasing with experience to a Superintendant at about $40 to 50,000 and Senior Management can have packages significantly in excess of $100,000.

What working conditions, job security, and career prospects or structure does your employer provide?

Conditions and job security: As with most jobs today, job security does not exist as such. There are some very good employers with long term employees but there are also some who decide to go offshore or find that they are unable to manage and go under. Some of the international companies will move staff around to other locations and plants or laboratories in their world-wide network. For example, it is not unusual for chemical engineers who work for Shell to spend some time in the Hague.

Do you work in a team or alone?

Working as a team and alone in short the answer is yes! Chemical Engineers, as a general rule will work in all situations depending on the job at hand. As a short answer there is a high degree of autonomy which can be expected in many chemical engineering positions.

Is your work considered highly stressful or hazardous to your health?

There is probably not a modern job that is without stress. There are many positions which could be considered stressful in the profession but it is not unknown for the compensation to be high. Many chemical engineering positions are highly responsible positions, this may be considered stressful by some. Chemical engineers should have a high degree of understanding of compounds and processes that may be hazardous to health. While it is undeniable that there may be some highly hazardous or dangerous products they will be responsible for, or be handling, personal and public safety is an essential part of being a chemical engineer.

What are the hours, challenges and prospects?

The hours are technically usually a 38 hour week but it is not unknown for that to stretch to 50 or even 60 hours depending on circumstances. The challenges in this profession are endless, like a piece of string one can and often has to have a cut-off at some point. This is usually some form of compromise based on perceived priorities. There are vast promotion prospects for a chemical engineer but this will depend on the person's input and output and the employer concerned.

Are there unions you can join to bring attention to issues you may be concerned about?

The unions are using chemical engineers and the like for advice to ensure the safety and well being of their members. There are some appropriate unions such as the Public Service Association (for government Employees) and APESMA which gives some coverage to Scientists, Engineers and Managers. As a suggestion, first contact points would be either the RACI or The Institution of Chemical Engineers.

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Last Revised: 1st May 2007