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Is chemical engineering a good major?

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What is?chemical engineering
What can you do with a chemical engineering major?
Are there a lot of opportunities in the field of chemical engineering/is the field growing?
What did you do with your chemical engineering major?

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Michael’s Answer

Yes it certainly is. I have had a long career as a chemical engineer in a large pharmaceutical company. I have had the opportunity to do many technical jobs as well as business jobs with my company. My degree has served me well in a 35 year career.

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Logan’s Answer

It depends on what you want out of your major, as with all majors. I feel practicality needs to take center stage at some point as well in your decision process. In terms of what you learn, it is easily the most multifaceted degree amongst the traditional engineering disciplines. I feel that while you may not learn as in depth about certain topics as other majors, you at least learn enough to be conversant and aware of the principles behind almost any engineering phenomenon. I do not feel this is the same in a different major.


People often wonder what is chemical engineering. Frankly, I did not know until the end of my junior year of college. It is an open ended degree which can place you in a variety of fields. The most standard will be process engineering which requires you to understand chemical principles and apply them to industrial components, process improvements, and cost savings on a large, factory scale. There is usually less chemistry involved than the name implies, but it is still an essential element of the degree.


While many will tell you your options are unlimited with chemical engineering, and, from a theoretical standpoint, that is true, you will find that you will be limited by job postings. Often, there are postings you will be qualified based on the knowledge provided by your degree, but systems utilize a ATS (applicant tracking system) that will screen you out based on what degree you actually possess rather than considering your qualifications. The best thing you can do to remediate this is to acquire experience in a variety of arenas whilst you are still in school.


I interned with Archer Daniels Midland at a food grade oil refinery my junior year. I performed research in two separate labs from my sophomore to senior year of school. Once graduated, I accepted a position at a nuclear remediation facility. After approximately a year and a half of working there, I then moved positions to a smaller company which focuses on the bioremediation of certain heavy metals in coal and mining waste water. I have looked for jobs twice now and each time I learned a bit more. People will tell you that finding a job is its own job and they are correct. You will face a lot of discouragement and rejection, but do not let that get you down. Everyone has different personal goals and objectives for their lives and those factor into the ease with which they can acquire a position.


Geographic flexibility (willingness to move anywhere) will be one of your greatest strengths. During an interview, never give them a reason to say no. Even if it is not something you want, it is better to have an offer to reject than no offer at all.


Many jobs within chemical engineering are located in fairly remote or small towns. While the pay is high and the cost of living low, there are many aspects which do not appeal to people. When I say small I mean I was offered a position in a town with 2000 people once. My first job had only 30k. For some this is perfect, others it is not a bother, but there are some who may not realize this and feel trapped by the degree to live in areas which are not ideal for them. It is something to keep in mind going forward.

Logan recommends the following next steps:

Look at job boards and understand the qualifications required to move onto the next step in your career
Obtain a research position while you are in school
Apply for a Co-op or internship. Co-Op's are better. Get as many as you possibly can.
Decide what you want your life to look like and factor in how important where you live, work life balance, money, etc.
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