bachelor's degree in engineering is required for almost all entry-level
chemical engineering jobs. Preparation for a career in chemical engineering begins as an
undergraduate, but is not limited to course work. Employers value a range
of capabilities which you can develop as you acquire technical competence
in the classroom. You may also want to explore the possibility of a
transfer program or a graduate degree.
The core curriculum of a chemical engineering program serves a dual
purpose: it provides technical information and instills a thought process
unique to the engineering discipline. This sample curriculum is based on
the required courses for chemical engineering students in an accredited
university program, and is from the Academic Advising Guide to Chemical
Engineering at Virginia Tech. This can be a guide for what to
expect in your curriculum, but you should always select classes in
consultation with a faculty advisor.
General Chemistry (with lab); Calculus I and II; Introduction to
Engineering; English; Algebra; Statistics; Vector Geometry; Electives
Multivariable Calculus; Mass and Energy Balances; Physics; Statistics;
Ordinary Partial Differential Equations; Physical Chemistry; Separation
Processes; Mechanics of Deformable Bodies; Elective
Thermodynamics; Process, Measurements and Controls; Physical Chemistry
(with lab); Chemical Process Modeling; Chemical Reactor Analysis and
Design; Elective Summer: Chemical Engineering Lab
Process and Plant Design;
Separation Processes; Process Materials; Elective
Those interested in a
career in Chemical Engineering should consider reviewing engineering programs that are
Employers usually look to hire candidates who have demonstrated success
both within their core program and in a diverse range of elective courses.
Within a chemical engineering program, students are generally required to
take 31 credits (approximately 13 courses) of electives. Focus on becoming
as well-rounded as possible by taking a variety of humanities courses, and
try to include communication and business courses whenever possible. The
following are skills and competencies you will need in a career; linked
with possible courses you could take to acquire them.
Computers are used every day for communications, simulations, budgeting,
monitoring controls, and word processing.
Courses to Consider: Computer Programming, Computer Science
The marketplace is increasingly global, with a need for people who are
fluent in more than one language.
Courses to Consider: Foreign Languages, Study Abroad
Engineering involves working with others and communicating so that others
understand and support your ideas.
Courses to Consider: Speech, Writing, English, Debate, Journalism, Acting,
Many decisions an engineer makes have business consequences. Understanding
business objectives will help you become more effective. Courses to
Consider: Marketing, Management, Economics, Accounting, Business, Finance
Working in a global market requires an understanding of the cultural,
geographic, economic, and environmental factors that influence decisions.
Courses to Consider: Foreign Language / Literature, History, Political
Science, Religious Studies, Economics, Study Abroad
Engineers regularly work in group settings. Being able to interact
effectively, professionally, and respectfully with others will make you a
more capable team player.
Courses to Consider: Psychology, Philosophy, Sociology, Ethnic Studies,
Women's Studies, Art, History, Literature, Religious Studies
Chemical engineers work with engineers from other disciplines. Having an
understanding of their work and area of expertise will strengthen your
relationships with them.
Courses to Consider: Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, Geology, Mechanical
or Electrical Engineering Courses
Extracurricular activities allow you to develop a well-rounded knowledge
and skill base. Social, service, academic, athletic, and professional
groups and activities provide opportunities to network and improve
leadership, organization, and communication skills. There are a variety of
organizations you might consider joining.
Many employers expect candidates to have some type of experience and are
more likely to give second interviews and job offers to students with an
internship or co-op on their resumes.
You can enter an engineering program by transferring from a Junior College
or by enrolling in a 3+2 program. Junior College students need to ensure
that they are taking courses that will prepare them for a chemical
engineering curriculum. 3+2 programs allow students to take three years of
coursework at a liberal arts school then transfer for two years of study
at a school with a chemical engineering program.
/ Professional School
Chemical engineering skills and training make transitioning into graduate
programs in business, law, medicine, and other sciences easier. Work with
professors, mentors, and contacts to determine if a graduate degree fits
your future. Graduate and professional schools look at undergraduate GPA
along with standardized exam scores, extracurricular activities, awards
and honors, work experience, and letters of recommendation, among other
factors. They may require an interview. Many resources are available to
help with this process. Find out more about different
academic degrees. For more information:
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.