Getting a Degree in Chemical Engineering
Chemical Engineering Degrees
Chemical engineering is just one of the many types of engineering you can choose to study. This type of engineering is as old as process industries. It started with the fermentation and evaporation processes that were operated by early civilizations. Modern chemical engineering emerged with the development of large-scale, chemical manufacturing operations in the 2nd half of the 19th century.
In chemical engineering, you apply the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and math to solve different problems that involve the use of fuel, drugs, food, and other products. You would work in offices and laboratories and spend time at industrial plants, refineries, and other locations.
Associate’s Degree in Chemical Engineering
While a bachelor’s degree is usually a must for finding a good chemical engineering type job, getting your associate’s degree can help prepare you to get your four-year degree. This could be an option for you and would take around two years.
Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering
A bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering will give you a broad understanding of the field. You would learn about molecular to macroscopic transformations and other complex phenomena. Many of the courses you would take would be about physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics. Some of the classes you might take would be an introduction to chemical engineering, organic chemistry, and fluid mechanics. The program should take you four years, two if you had your associate’s degree before you started.
You should be able to find either an in-person or online bachelor’s degree program to study chemical engineering. For online programs, Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Columbia University all have highly rated programs. For in-person programs, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, and the Georgia Institute of Technology all have highly rated programs.
Jobs with a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering
- Chemical Process Engineers, who are responsible for the equipment, system, and methods used in a manufacturing facility to transform raw ingredients to their final form, have an average salary of $74,822, according to Glassdoor as of June 2020.
- Plastics Engineers, who test new plastics, and work with the processing, design, development, and manufacturing of plastic products, have an average salary of $68,327 according to Glassdoor, as of May 2020.
- Research and Development Chemical Engineers, who are responsible for researching, developing, and applying necessary chemical processes to create a wide range of items for both commercial and industrial uses, have an average salary of $45,382, according to Glassdoor as of February 2019.
Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering
Getting your master’s degree in chemical engineering includes extensive research components, and you would specialize in a more specific area such as thermodynamics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, or biomedical engineering. You might take classes in advanced chemical engineering, advanced separation processes, or semiconductor processing technology. A master’s degree would typical take around two years.
You should be able to find either an in-person or online master’s degree program to study chemical engineering. For online programs, Auburn University, Missouri University of Science and Technology, and North Carolina State Univerity all have highly rated programs. For in-person programs, the University of California at Berkeley, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, and the Georgia Institute of Technology all have highly rated programs.
Jobs with a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering
- Environmental Scientists, who work to protect the environment and human health, work to determine data collection methods for research projects, investigations, and surveys, and collect and compile environmental data from samples of air, soil, water, food, and other materials for scientific analysis, have an average salary of $52,700, according to Glassdoor, as of June 2020.
- Chemists, who work with research and development, look at the composition and structure and properties of various types of matter and scientific laws associated with them, and educate fellow scientists and laboratory technicians on the process associated with chemical testing and processing, have an average salary of $51, 280 according to Glassdoor, as of June 2020.
- Research Scientists, who gather knowledge, usually work in an academic setting, perform experiments, make observations, and create detailed papers of their findings for peer review, have an average salary of $77,173, according to Glassdoor as of June 2020.
Doctorate Degrees in Chemical Engineering
A Ph.D. in chemical engineering can prepare you for advanced research and educational opportunities. These programs typically require students to complete a dissertation and comprehensive examination. When getting your Ph.D. you could take classes in polymer chemistry and engineering, applied mathematics in chemical engineering, and advanced bioengineering. On average it takes about two years to get your Ph.D.
Schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Georgia all offer top-rated Ph.D. programs.
Jobs with a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering
- Project Scientists, who perform scientific analysis on projects, follow safety rules, guidelines, and standards for all projects, have an average salary of $58,398 according to Glassdoor, as of June 2020.
- Professors, who teach courses, work with students and colleagues, and stay informed about changes in their field, have an average salary of $88,173 according to Glassdoor, as of June 2020.
- Pharmaceutical Engineers, who focus on discovering, formulating and manufacturing medication, as well as working with analytics, and quality control process, have an average salary of $72, 323, according to Glassdoor as of May 2018.
- Engineering Technology
- Pharmaceutical Sciences
Chemical engineers don’t have to be licensed but doing so leads to better jobs. Candidates would need at least four years of work experience, pass a state exam, and hold a degree from an accredited engineering program. Continuing education may be required to maintain and renew the license.
Scholarships for Chemical Engineering
Getting your degree in chemical engineering means you can apply for certain scholarships that specialize in engineering or similar degrees. Here are a couple of them:
This scholarship is from the American Physical Society and IBM with the goal to encourage women to pursue graduate studies in science and engineering. Anyone who identifies as a woman may apply. Students must be a sophomore or a junior at a US college or university at the time of application. Students must be majoring in chemistry, physics, materials science or engineering, computer science of engineering, chemical, electrical, or mechanical engineering or biology. The award is $2,500.
This scholarship is by the Association of Desk and Derrick Clubs (ADDC) for the purpose of awarding annual scholarships to students attending accredited colleges and universities offering degrees in geology, chemical, and petroleum engineering. In order to qualify students will need to have completed or be currently enrolled in their second year of undergraduate study at an accredited college or university. They will need to demonstrate a need for financial assistance in pursuing a college degree as well as planning a career in the petroleum, energy, or allied industry, or research and development of alternative fuels such as coal, electric, solar, wind hydroelectric, nuclear, and ethanol.
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About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.