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How do I narrow down to a speciality in chemical engineering?

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Suddhasattwa’s Answer

Hi Jaskaran,

Its a evergreen industry and demand for chemical engineers are going high every year.


To begin with - Bachelor's degree will likely be the best degree choice for you. It takes 4-5 years of full-time study to earn a Bachelor's degree.
You need 12 to 18 credits per semester for a total of 120 credits.
You core subject could be Cell & Tissue Engineering, Biomass Refinery Operations, and Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics.

But to land in a great company and in good profile you need 2 years Master's degree or a 7 years PhD. These classes are typically much more demanding, but it wont be tough you have learnt the basics in Bachelor's-level of chemical engineering.
You may take choose your majors like Polymer Rheology & Processing, Transport Phenomena, and Viscous Flow.

But they wont be boring as your study includes Lecture hours + Lab hours.
Lecture hours give you the theoretical understanding you need, while lab hours gives the practical experience that's expected of you.


The University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University (you can apply for scholarships like the ASHRAE Scholarship, the B. Charles Tiney Memorial Scholarship, and the SMART Scholarship)


Always best to check your country job sites like indeed/monstor so that you are aware that what do the industry currently seeking from the candidates in their job listings. If you know someone from those hiring companies, known contact keep in touch for guidance and smooth path from study - internship - job. Globally Chemical Engineers are of very high demand so you may travel the globe too.

Hope this insights helps Jaskaran. If you like the answer don't forget to UPVOTE this answer so that it reaches to many aspirants as you.
Wish you a very good luck on your studies and pursuing your dreams.
~ Suddho

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Kollengode S’s Answer

I assume U are looking at a bachelor's degree in chem eng. Chem E principles are applied in a variety of industries. the obvious ones are in petroleum refining, synthetic fertilizers; dyes, pigments; and pharmaceuticals; food industries; minerals and metallurgical and glass industries; paints, and many others. The less obvious ones are in industrial chemicals; mining and mineral processing; technical ceramics and refractories; including chemical and physical vapor deposits in electronic industries. And the manufacturers of the whole spectrum of process equipment for these industries also employ Chem E's.

While seeking admission, you need to identify schools that have commitment for undergrad Chem E education that also focus on good labs and summer intern programs.

In high school education, pay attention to advance courses in chemistry, physics, mathematics (algebra, analytical geometry, calculus), statistics etc. Do NOT neglect English writing and developing good interpersonal skills.

No mater where U go to work with a bachelor's degree, you WILL work with people from diverse social and educational backgrounds. You should have the temperament to work with a whole range of these people -- senior managers with MBAs, or project managers with PhDs, your peers with bachelor degrees in EE, Mech E, etc. and highly skilled technicians and electricians, and plant operators with high school education but with years of experience in running plants. You should be able to interact with these types of people simultaneously to navigate through the challenges you will encounter at work.

All the best.

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Estelle’s Answer

I wouldn't worry about trying to narrow down the field. At this point in your education try to be as broad as possible and learn as many aspects of chemical engineering. The reason for this is that you never know what specialty will be in demand and who is hiring. I have seen many fiends try to specialize only to find out that their specialty wasn't needed so much, then they had to switch to a new specialty. I predict you will have many favorite specialties before it is over.

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Maxine’s Answer

Some of the hottest new areas for chemical engineers these days are related to pharmaceuticals and medical devices. If you are interested in this specialty you can look for classes or specialties that have a biological aspect, such as biology lab, bioreactor design, or bioengineering. You can also talk to your career advisor at your school, such as a counselor, to learn more about the different specialities that are available. Some other popular areas for chemical engineers include consumer products such as Procter and Gamble, which makes popular brands such as Pantene shampoo and Gillette razors, or oil, such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron. You could also pursue an advanced degree such as a PhD and become a professor and lead in engineering research. Still yet there are others who decide they want to pursue business, and they will go into finance and consulting, as engineers are often very much sought after by those types of companies.

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Andrew’s Answer

I don't know about your goal of narrowing down to a specialty, it could be for (1) interest, (2) academic career, and (3) industrial career.

(1) is a personal choice so I am not going to comment. If the reasons are (2) or (3), you would want to keep your background as broad as possible while gaining relevant experience in a specialty outside of your academic study. For the academic path, participate in undergraduate research in academic labs. Many welcomes free labor ;) or even offer paid summer internship. For an industrial career, doing co-op or summer internship is a good way to expose to different industries that need your skill. I don't think you need to fixate on a particular industry. It's more important to have exposure and see what excites you as a life-long career. You would already have advantage if you have one internship with relevant experience.

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Daesha’s Answer

Try for some hands-on experience. If your school has a research lab, talk to the professors about working part time there. Apply for manufacturing internships for companies with products you find interesting. You'll very quickly learn whether you like the products, people, environment and type of work. There are a lot of different places chemical engineers can go - learning whether you want to work on the equipment or not is a big way to narrow it down.

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Chet’s Answer

Ask yourself what environment and who you would like to work with. In the food industry, you have a stable location, usually a big employer (Coca Cola, Heinz, etc.). So less travel, better to start a family, etc. In petroleum, you get a giant distillation column, so really core ChemE work. Lots of travel and living from a suitcase is likely. But refineries and pipelines are often in out of the way locations, with not many services; the places you go may not be that great. Burnout and turnover for companies like Schlumberger is quite high. In something like R&D you can get into pharmaceutical or environmental science. so GCMS and this type of analysis tool. Very much a lab environment, but lots of potential for discovery. That would lead to many different paths, for instance sales, marketing, etc. especially with an add on degree, e.g., an MBA.

An important consideration is also the people you work with. Specific types of people are attracted to different aspects / careers. So as you take classes, check out the people you are in labs or group work with -- do you want to spend years of your life with these people, or those who share their personality types? This is important.