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In the US, the Department of Labor estimated in 2008 the number of chemical engineers to be 31,000. According to a 2011 salary survey by the American Institution of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the median annual salary for a chemical engineer was approximately $110,000. In one salary survey, chemical engineering was found to be highest-paying degree for first employment of college graduates.Chemical engineering has been successively ranked in the Top 2 places in the Most Lucrative Degrees Survey by CNN Money in the United States of America. In the UK, the Institution of Chemical Engineers 2006 Salary Survey reported an average salary of approximately £53,000, with a starting salary for a graduate averaging £24,000. Chemical engineering is a male-dominated field: as of 2009, only 17.1% of professional chemical engineers are women. However, that trend is expected to shift as the number of female students in the field continues to increase.
it became clear that unit operations alone was insufficient in developing chemical reactors. While the predominance of unit operations in chemical engineering courses in Britain and the United States continued until the 1960s, transport phenomena started to experience greater focus. Along with other novel concepts, such process systems engineering (PSE), a "second paradigm" was defined. Transport phenomena gave an analytical approach to chemical engineering while PSE focused on its synthetic elements, such as control system and process design. Developments in chemical engineering before and after World War II were mainly incited by the petrochemical industry, however, advances in other fields were made as well. Advancements in biochemical engineering in the 1940s, for example, found application in the pharmaceutical industry, and allowed for the mass production of various antibiotics, including penicillin and streptomycin. Meanwhile, progress in polymer science in the 1950s paved way for the "age of plastics".
Concerns regarding the safety and environmental impact of large-scale chemical manufacturing facilities were also raised during this period. Silent Spring, published in 1962, alerted its readers to the harmful effects of DDT, a potent insecticide. The 1974 Flixborough disaster in the United Kingdom resulted in 28 deaths, as well as damage to a chemical plant and three nearby villages. The 1984 Bhopal disaster in India resulted in almost 4,000 deaths. These incidents, along with other incidents, affected the reputation of the trade as industrial safety and environmental protection were given more focus. In response, the IChemE required safety to be part of every degree course that it accredited after 1982. By the 1970s, legislation and monitoring agencies were instituted in various countries, such as France, Germany, and the United States.