Personal Finance

Best Cities for Chemical Engineers

Best Cities for Chemical Engineers

ValuePenguin reports on the best cities for chemical engineers based on a city's median annual salary, cost of living and location quotients (employment concentration).

Creating solutions by tapping into their deep knowledge of chemistry, math and biology is all in a day’s 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?

On this page:

How we determined 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 costs of living ranked higher 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, Houston, the fourth most populous city in the U.S., 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 U.S. median salary of $90,300 for chemical engineering professionals.

Houston also has a much higher concentration of chemical engineers than most other cities, giving them the sixth-best location quotient in our study. Finally, for a large metropolitan area, Houston is an extremely affordable city to live in. It has the sixth-lowest cost of living in our study, but adjusting for population, it would rank number one.

More: Auto Insurance Facts for Texas

2. Beaumont, TX

This Jefferson County town was honored with the number-two 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. Second, Beaumont benefits from having the second-highest concentration of chemical engineers in the U.S. 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: The metro area has 1,340 chemical engineering jobs per capita — the second highest in 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 U.S. 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 fourth place. Home to DuPont HQ, Wilmington has the third-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 three 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 five. Lake Charles is in the southwest region of Louisiana and is the fifth 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 U.S. average.

More: Louisiana State Insurance Facts

See complete chart, including cities six to 20, below:


Median salary
Location quotient
Cost of living
1Houston, TX$118,0003,7405.748987.4
2Beaumont, TX$108,95048012.48582.4
3Baton Rouge, LA$108,2401,34014.959381.4
4Wilmington, DE$124,9306408.0210277.0
5Lake Charles, LA$100,3501908.668669.7
6Corpus Christi, TX$112,8401302.988665.9
7Kennewick, WA$104,9101405.999960.9
8Lowell, MA$108,9502007.0712060.5
9Knoxville, TN$101,9201601.968460.4
10Augusta, GA$94,7302705.419157.3
11Newark, NJ$101,4906702.8611956.0
12Evansville, IN$96,0301102.588454.4
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Here's how we determined the best cities for chemical engineers:

  • 1. Median salary: Cities with the highest median annual salaries, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Cost of living (COL): Cities with the lowest costs of living, with data sourced from Sperling's Best Places COL Calculator.
  • Employment: Cities with the highest location quotient metrics, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.