I am interested in chemical engineering but I am scared of career prospects

Drug discovery often begins with a start-up. Targeted chemotherapy, immunotherapy, CRISPR are all newer treatments being developed and for many different cancer, neuro diseases.

Chem Eng is one of the few engineering disciplines where a PHD is important.

This isn’t true and is misleading on multiple levels.

First, there are many jobs available for chemical engineers with only a BS degree.

Second, there are plenty of jobs in any engineering field for those with a PhD provided you are looking for a research-centric career path.

@boneh3ad is spot on. A BSChemE is one of the highest paying degrees that doesn’t require an advanced degree to pretty much do anything you want in the field and even outside of it. If you want to do intense research you need experience or an advanced degree.

My BIL works with semiconductor chips. He started in California, worked a couple of years in Holland, and has lived in a big house on a lake in Minnesota for years. He has made out really well with his chemical engineering degree.

OP there are plenty of ethical jobs in the field. The issues you are worried about are the exception, not the rule. I’m a recent ChemEng grad working on green energy field. Regarding your issue with “nasty chemicals,” there are some strong acids/bases that we have to deal with for manufacturing purposes, but they are not used to harm anyone and they are disposed of properly. The work we do is beneficial to society as a whole, which I’m sure is the case with most companies out there.

I majored in Electrical Engineering. When I was interviewing for job, some were in the Military industrial area, and some were in Telecommunications. I decided I didn’t want to work in the military industry if possible so I chose Telecom.

Take comfort in knowing that you can major in ChemE, but never work as a ChemE. Yes, you can mess with dangerous chemicals and risk cancer, but there are many other options. Medical school, financial analyst, masters programs outside of ChemE (other engineering disciplines, business, etc.).

You will be very challenged in ChemE, but proving yourself will open many doors at the end that you’re too young to realize or even think about now.

Go to this website and read stories about what some real Chemical Engineers actually do. Page down to Faculty Highlights and Research.

See https://www.wpi.edu/academics/departments/chemical-engineering

Hear a Chemical Engineer on Ted Talks tell you how important and powerful their tools are to address our countries most pressing issues. See https://www.ted.com/talks/jennifer_wilcox_a_new_way_to_remove_co2_from_the_atmosphere?language=en

If it means anything to you penicillin was discovered by a scientist Alexander Fleming. It took a Chemical Engineer, Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau to develop the method of mass producing it. Until then it could only be made in very small doses in a lab. That sounds like a very positive thing to me.

My sons are a Chem E and a Mech E. Both have had fascinating jobs and had several job offers before graduating college. Both have worked in jobs that help the environment in many ways. None has had anything remotely related to some fantasy game nonsense.

I see you all are experts in the subject. I will need some feedback on colleges. My son who wishes to become Chem E has to make the decision where to go. University of Florida honors program (all costs covered), Georgia tech, Rensselaer (half Merit Scholarship), UMinedota (%scholarship), UIllinois at Urbana. Different schooks, difficult decision
What will you do?

My dh and ds are both chemEs. Any process having to do with toxic or dangerous chemicals is very highly regulated. They both work for “big evil chemical companies” (completely sarcastic here bc these companies are extremely careful to follow all regulatory practices and monitor processes carefully bc they know the risks and liabilities.) Fwiw, they don’t personally mix chemical or create things. That is not the role of your avg bs chemE. Typical chemE jobs are process, manufacturing, environmental safety. Research and development is going to be a much smaller division, usually with grad level degrees or batch processing for bs degrees.

@ProudFLMom Any ABET school is fine. Co-op experience helps with landing their first job (and GPA above a 3.5). No one cares where their degree is from. My ds attended an unknown state tech U and has a fabulous career. He works alongside grads from “engineering powerhouses”---- Sam England jobs, same pay.

“No one cares where their degree is from.”

I was in a meeting with three other people one of whom is my boss and also a ChemE. One of the other guys went to the same school as my boss so they were chatting it up. The third guy offered that he went to some small school. I remained silent. When asked where did I (the big brown looking guy) go to school, I told them I went to Big Red. Wide eyed they quickly changed the subject. After 30+ years I still laugh every time this happens. You can’t go wrong with any school but UIUC would be my first choice. Go for the $$$ or weather if money is no issue.

No idea how same job turned into Sam England. Autocorrect at its finest.

@PossePops Do you all work for the same company? Did your boss go to a lower ranked school?

Fwiw, I don’t think my Dh or ds work with people who talk about UG. I don’t think any of them even care. I just know that ds’s closest friend went to UCB bc it came up when one of our kids was applying to grad schools.

It was a meeting between two different companies. He went to a much lesser ranked state school.

Thank you