McCavit is a 1970 graduate of the Department of Chemical Engineering. He was employed with Celanese for 35 years before starting his own consulting firm, J. L. McCavit Consulting, LLC, in 2005. He is a fellow and staff consultant for the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) and chaired the CCPS committee that wrote "Guidelines for Risk-Based Process Safety." He was named Fellow of AIChE in 2012 and was also honored by the Mary Kay O'Conner Process Safety Center Merit Award in 2011.
- AIChE Fellow (2012)
- Mary Kay O'Conner Process Safety Center Merit Award (2011)
- Center for Process Safety Fellow