Best Cities for Chemical Engineers

Creating solutions by tapping into their deep knowledge of chemistry, math, and biology is all in a days work for chemical engineers across the country. You'll find these engineers employed in a variety of businesses, from pharmaceuticals to paper to consumer products. As of 2010, there were approximately 30,200 chemical engineers employed in the United States. These engineers earned a national average salary of $90,300 per year, and $43.42 per hour. 

So what are some of the best cities for chemical engineers?

For a deeper look into the chemical engineering field, ValuePenguin reports on the best cities for chemical engineers to consider for the best career prospects. We ranked U.S. cities based on three key questions:

1. How much money do chemical engineers make in the city? 

We ranked cities based on the median annual pay as a substantial factor in the decision process for chemical engineers looking for work. Of course, a high salary for a chemical engineer in an expensive city may not outweigh a lower salary in an affordable town. That's why we posed our second question... 

Related Info: Salary Comparison for Chemical Engineers

2. How expensive is it to live there? 

In conjunction with the median annual salary for chemical engineers in the city, cost of living helps determine how far your dollar will go. For this particular variable, cities with lower cost of living ranked highly in our study.

3. What is the location quotient for chemical engineers in the city? 

A town with a high average salary and low cost of living may seem perfect, but job opportunities may be limited. Our study factors in cities with a high chemical engineering location quotient. Location quotient measures the concentration of chemical engineers in the city as a proportion of all occupations relative to the national average. A higher location quotient can be inferred to mean a relatively high demand for chemical engineering services.

Best Cities for Chemical Engineers

1. Houston, TX

Nicknamed the 'Space City' and the 4th most populous city in the US, Houston was awarded the top spot on our list in a dominant showing. First, chemical engineers in the Houston area get paid a sizable $118,000 per year on average. That's a full 30% more than the US median salary of $90,300 for chemical engineering professionals. Houston also has a much higher concentration of chemical engineers in than most other cities, giving them the 6th best location quotient in our study. Finally, for a large metropolitan area, Houston is an extremely affordable city to live in. It has the 6th lowest cost of living in our study, but adjusting for population it would rank number 1.

More: Click here Auto Insurance Facts for Texas

2. Beaumont, TX

This Jefferson County town was honored with the #2 spot on our list for a number of reasons. Firstly, chemical engineers in Beaumont get paid well: $108,950 per year on average, or 20% more than the average chemical engineer. Beaumont also benefited from having the second highest concentration of chemical engineers in the US. And finally, your dollar goes much further when you're living and working in Beaumont; the cheapest town in our Top 10.

3. Baton Rouge, LA

The "Capital City", Baton Rouge is located along the Mississippi River in southeast Louisiana. There are plenty of opportunities in Baton Rouge for chemical engineers. Not only does the metro area have a high concentration of chemical engineering jobs per capita, it has a lot of them (1,340 and good for 2nd most inside our Top 20). Chemical engineers in Baton Rouge  can also look forward to a high median salary, $108,240, while still enjoying a low cost of living compared to most cities in the US. Top chemical engineering employers in the city include Albemarle, BASF, and ExxonMobil.

4. Wilmington, DE

This town of 71,000 residents makes the list in 4th place. Home to DuPont HQ, Wilmington has the 3rd highest concentration of chemical engineering jobs in the country. Chemical engineers will also enjoy the highest average annual salary of any city in the country, $124,930, almost 40% more than the national average. On top of all, the cost of living in Wilmington is very reasonable. While not as cheap as our first 3 cities, the city of Wilmington's high salaries far outweigh it's slightly higher than average cost of living.

5. Lakes Charles, LA

Another Gulf Coast city rounds out the Top 5. Lake Charles is in the southwest region of Louisiana and is the 5th most populous city in the 'Bayou State'. While Lake Charles only has 190 chemical engineering jobs in town, it benefits from relatively high demand, an above average annual salary of $100,350, and a cost of living that is significantly lower than the US average.

More: Information from our Louisiana State Facts

See complete chart, including cities #6-20 below:

RankCityMedian SalaryJobsLocation QuotientCost of LivingScore 
Houston, TX $118,0003,7405.74 89 87.4 
Beaumont, TX $108,950 48012.4 85 82.4
Baton Rouge, LA $108,240 1,340 14.95 93 81.4 
Wilmington, DE $124,930 640 8.02 102 77.0 
Lake Charles, LA $100,350 190 8.66 86 69.7 
Corpus Christi, TX$112,840 130 2.98 86 65.9 
Kennewick, WA$104,910 140 5.99 99 60.9 
Lowell, MA$108,950 200 7.07 120 60.5 
Knoxville, TN $101,920 160 1.96 84 60.4 
10 Augusta, GA$94,730 270 5.41 91 57.3 
11 Newark, NJ$101,490 670 2.86 119 56.0 
12 Evansville, IN$96,030 110 2.58 84 54.4 
13 Baltimore, MD$97,330 420 1.37 90 51.7 
14 Wilmington, NC$98,030 150 4.45 102 50.7 
15 Camden, NJ$138,980 120 1.02 91 50.3 
16 Philadelphia, PA$94,980 820 1.83 101 50.1 
17 Mobile, AL$91,640 130 3.22 85 49.5 
18 Oakland, CA$131,070 260 1.09 135 46.8 
19 Cincinnati, OH$90,030 410 1.69 86 46.6 
20 New Orleans, LA$94,480 250 1.97 93 46.1 

Study Methodology & Sources

1. Median Salary: cities with the highest median annual salary, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics
2. Cost of Living: cities with the lowest cost of living, with data sourced from Sperling's Best Places COL Calculator
3. Employment: cities with the highest location quotient metrics, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics

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