Chemical sciences

Industry Sector


Scotland has a world-class research base with a reputation for making pioneering advances in chemical engineering. 

The chemical sciences industry ranges from biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals, agrichemicals and pigments to refining and petrochemicals.

You could work for a global business like Ineos, DSM, SASOL and Syngenta or innovative Scottish companies such as Ingenza and Celtic Renewables.

Innovation centres let researchers and industry build relationships and work together, so new discoveries can quickly become successful businesses.

Thirteen universities and six colleges in Scotland are recognised for research and teaching excellence in chemistry and engineering. And chemical sciences research accounts for 18% of all industrial research and development in Scotland (including pharmaceuticals). 

The industry now

A diverse community of around 230 chemical sciences companies in Scotland generates £1.1bn a year for the Scottish economy.

Nearly 9,000 people work in chemical sciences and the industry supports another 70,000 jobs in other sectors ranging from energy to food and drink. 

Since 2002 exports related to chemical sciences have increased by 148%, meaning that now 17% of Scottish exports are from the chemical sciences sector. 

The future

There are increasing opportunities to get into the industry by learning on the job. 

Apprenticeship places are set to increase by another 300 places, and there will be more work experience opportunities for HNC and HND students. The number of Modern Apprentices associated with the sector has already grown, by 40% from 2010/11 to 2012/13.

You could work in petrochemicals, refining, chemical synthesis and engineering, agrichemicals, advanced pharmaceutical ingredients; pigments, sensor technologies; catalysis and industrial biotechnology.

There are also exciting opportunities in associated fields like process control and instrumentation engineering and continuous manufacture and crystallisation.