What do the petroleum industry, the cosmetics industry, environmental management
and sewage treatment have in common? A degree in chemical engineering will
prepare you to work in any of those areas.
Chemistry will be the foundation of your studies, but you will also
take courses involving physics, biology and math.
To work as a chemical engineer, you must have at least a bachelor's
degree in the field. This will generally take about four or five years.
"We prepare the students for employment in various industries from day
one," says Ajay Dalai. He teaches chemical engineering. "They learn communication
skills, technical report writing skills, chemical plant design skills and
all the fundamentals which are required in any chemical industry."
Engineering programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering
and Technology (ABET). Choosing an accredited school is the best way to
ensure your qualifications will be recognized.
Graduates of an accredited program can voluntarily apply to their state's
professional engineering association for the designation of professional engineer.
But Ruth Baltus says this happens less with chemical engineering than other
fields of engineering. Baltus is a chemical engineering professor at Clarkson
University in New York.
At universities such as Clarkson, chemical engineering majors develop
a specialty by taking a minor concentration in a related field. Typical
elective minors include electronics manufacturing, design, production and
manufacturing and environmental technology.
Universities may also offer double-major degrees. For example, the
University of California at Berkeley has combined degree programs in chemical
engineering and materials science, and in chemical engineering and nuclear
There's often a practical element in chemical engineering programs.
"In many universities," says Dalai, "there are co-op or internship programs,
where the student after finishing third-year classes can work in an industry
for a period of six to 18 months with a regular salary. The students tend
to go back to those companies after they graduate."
In high school, take as many math and science courses as possible.
Bear in mind that communication skills and extracurricular activities
serve as proof that you have the critical and social skills to match science
to human needs.
In addition to tuition, students must pay for textbooks. Some programs
charge fees for computers and lab equipment.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Engineers
Virtual Library -- Chemical Engineering
An excellent list of links
Academic Guide on ABET
Information on accredited engineering programs