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How important is Master's degree for chemichal engineers?

Is it much easier to find a job with Master's degree?

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Subject: Career question for you


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Jasheah’s Answer

Hello Ali,

This is such a great question!

To begin, my name is Jo and I have a bachelors of science in chemical engineering from the University at Buffalo. I have a masters in engineering Management from Cornell University. I will answer your question for multiple scenarios.

1. If you currently have a bachelors in chemical engineering and you want to work in the chemical engineering field, do you need a masters in Chemical Engineering / how beneficial would it be? Based on my experience, if you have an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering, you do not necessarily need a masters to work in the field. A bachelors usually is enough. I recommend a masters in chemical engineering for 1) someone who does not have a bachelors in chemical engineering, but wants to get into the chemical engineering field or 2) someone who loves chemical engineering coursework and the field and sees themselves as chemical engineers in industry for a very long time. If you have a masters that is different than your chemical engineering bachelors, it may be preferred as recruiters see you as someone who is diverse and can bring additional value to a role as you not only have a chemical engineering education, but you also have another expertise, let's say "masters in computer science".

2. If you currently have a bachelors in chemical engineering and you want to work in the chemical engineering field, do you need a master's AT ALL, no matter the degree track/how beneficial would it be? Short answer: Not really! Long Answer: It will always be beneficial to have a masters when working in engineering (and most fields) for 3 reasons: 1) it may strengthen your application / preference may be given for someone with a graduate degree when recruiting for a very technical role, 2) you may be able to start off at a slightly higher role and / or 3) increased pay. I have noticed that the role promotion or the pay is not much "higher" in engineering than if the person were to just have a bachelors. So, honestly, for this field, from my experience, a masters is not required, however, it may help. Would it help a lot? Based on my experiences, maybe not! However, if that is what you want to do, chase your dream!

3. Is a masters degree necessary to be successful in the engineering field? The great thing about engineering is that you do not need a masters. You can have access to so many opportunities without a masters in Engineering. However, if you are interested in being an engineer and you like the course work, you should do what is best for you!

My Advice: In the end, if you want to be an engineer and work a technical engineering role, get the masters degree in engineering. If you would like to open up your options of the roles you can have access to, so not only chemical engineering roles, but maybe programming or AI/ML roles, I would recommend pairing your bachelors degree with another type of engineering, like Computer Science. If you would like to go into a management / leadership role, I would definitely get an MBA. Engineering Bachelors and MBAs are extremely powerful degree combinations! Many companies appreciate someone with an engineering background who is also familiar with finance / business / accounting / leadership. If you look up many large public company executives (Robert Smith (Vista Equity Partners), Tim Cook (Apple), Jeffrey Sprecher, the CEO of Intercontinental Exchange).

To end this post with this excerpt from an article on the Washington Post "One of the CEOs on this year’s list, Jeffrey Sprecher, the CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, holds both an MBA and an engineering degree but said in a video posted on Facebook by his alma mater, University of Wisconsin, that he’s never had a job that relates to his chemical engineering degree." ( I can somewhat relate - I have not ever worked a "chemical engineering" job, however, it is such a powerful and versatile degree. I have had so many doors opened because of it, even though I have not used it directly, and I am so grateful for it.

Thank you for reading, and I hope this answers your question!