2 of 10
9. Chemical engineer
Median Salary: $78,000
Change in salary (2006–2012): +20%
Total employees: 9,200
One of the biggest advantages of being a chemical engineer is that your skills can be applied in a wide range of different industries, from energy to manufacturing to food products and beyond. In their first few years, most chemical engineers do lab work, but after that there’s opportunity to manage a lab, consult for other companies, or start your own business.
How to qualify: You’ll need to have a bachelor of applied science or a chemical engineer degree, says Nadeem Pirani, a chemical engineer working in the aerospace sector in Mississauga, Ont. You’ll also need to have four years of engineering experience working under another professional chemical engineer before you get certified.
Money: Salaries start at $50,000 to $60,000 for a graduate fresh out of university, but can rise quickly with experience—especially if you specialize in an in-demand niche. Academic and pure research positions can fetch up to $235,000.
Opportunity: The job market is quite focused on the growing environmental sector right now, says Pirani, with chemical engineers doing everything from site assessments and soil remediation to waste audits and air-quality modelling.
What’s it like: It’s a job that requires precision, and being up to date on the latest industry standards and specifications. Pirani, who oversees nickel-plating processes for aircraft engine parts, spends a lot of time reading up on specification updates. But she’s also “out on the floor talking to the guys running the tanks making sure things are OK. So my day is pretty involved. There’s always something new.”