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Chemical Engineering Major

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Chemical Engineering

1,824 Master's Degrees Annually
1,069 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#77 in Popularity (Master's)
$113,680 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Chemical Engineering Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many chemical engineering graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 1,824
Doctor’s Degree 1,069
Graduate Certificate 4

What Chemical Engineering Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, chem eng majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Chem Eng Majors

Chem Eng majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Skills for Chem Eng Majors

chem eng majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

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  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Abilities for Chem Eng Majors

As you progress with your chem eng degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

What Can You Do With a Chemical Engineering Major?

People with a chem eng degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers 5.5% $140,760
Biochemical Engineers 6.4% $96,980
Biofuels/Biodiesel Technology and Product Development Managers 5.5% $140,760
Chemical Engineers 7.3% $104,910
Engineering Professors 14.7% $101,720
Nanosystems Engineers 6.4% $96,980

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering?

1,824 Master's Degrees Annually
32% Percent Women
17% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This major tends to be male dominated. About 68% of recent graduates are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of chem eng majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Chem Eng Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 158
Black or African American 41
Hispanic or Latino 67
White 501
International Students 980
Other Races/Ethnicities 77

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Chem Eng, too. About 53.7% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • India
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Korea
  • Kuwait

How Much Do Chemical Engineering Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a master’s degree in chem eng have a median salary of $75,600 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $73,350 (25th percentile) and $75,600 (75th percentile).

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One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to chem eng.

Salaries According to BLS

Chem Eng majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $99,410 to $114,470 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Chemical Engineering Major  ( 99410 to 114470 )
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Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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Some degrees associated with chem eng may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for chem eng careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 0.3%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 1.6%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 1.6%
Bachelor’s Degree 47.8%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 3.3%
Master’s Degree 23.3%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 2.9%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 1.2%
Doctoral Degree 14.7%
Post-Doctoral Training 3.2%

Online Chemical Engineering Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 200 schools offered some type of chemical engineering program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 2 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 0 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 19 1
Bachelor’s Degree 7 2
Post-Baccalaureate 2 0
Master’s Degree 146 17
Post-Master’s 4 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 117 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 0

Is a Degree in Chemical Engineering Worth It?

The median salary for a chem eng grad is $113,680 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 185% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,475,600 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to chem eng.

Major Number of Grads
Mechanical Engineering 47,405
Electrical Engineering 31,384
Civil Engineering 21,938
Computer Engineering 15,891
Biomedical Engineering 12,001
General Engineering 11,739
Industrial Engineering 9,410
Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering 7,069
Materials Engineering 3,538
Systems Engineering 3,491
Other Engineering 2,982
Environmental Engineering 2,850
Petroleum Engineering 2,269
Operations Research 1,745
Agricultural Engineering 1,554
Engineering Science 1,515
Architectural Engineering 1,019
Nuclear Engineering 1,014
Engineering Physics 979
Robotics Engineering 943
Manufacturing Engineering 932
Construction Engineering 865
Marine Engineering 481
Geoscience Engineering 424
Polymer & Plastics Engineering 387
Biological Engineering 374
Textile Engineering 366
Ocean Engineering 346
Mining Engineering 340
Engineering Mechanics 314
Metallurgical Engineering 235
Biochemical Engineering 118
Ceramic Engineering 101
Surveying Engineering 89
Electromechanical Engineering 65
Forest Engineering 52
Paper Science & Engineering 44

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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