Getting the Most Out of Raw Materials: Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineering is an important specialty within the engineering field. By using applied physical sciences like physics and chemistry in concert with advanced mathematics, chemical engineers are capable of creating new and more useful forms of raw materials and chemicals. If you are interested in a career in this unique and inventive area of the engineering field, then enrolling in an online degree program can help you meet your academic goals.

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Chemical Engineering Degree Information

Most chemical engineering professionals will start by pursuing a degree or certificate in general chemistry and/or basic engineering to provide a framework for their chemical engineering studies. However, some programs, especially continuing education programs, may offer the opportunity to get an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in chemical engineering directly. To realize a career in chemical engineering fully, students will probably want to pursue advanced training or an advanced graduate degree.

Chemical engineers use their knowledge of chemistry to create solutions to problems in fields ranging from biotechnology to mechanical production. Chemical engineers can be found in the health care industry, food production, the aerospace industry, cosmetic development, the military and many other areas, both public sector and private. Chemical engineering is a specialized skill and certain jobs can only be filled by chemical engineers.

Study Options

Students interested in pursuing a career in chemical engineering can start by seeking out an associate's or bachelor's degree in any scientific field, such as biology, chemistry or physics, or any engineering field, such as general engineering, mechanical engineering or industrial engineering. However, it is recommended that any undergraduate degree include both chemistry and engineering in the curriculum. Students may also major specifically in chemical engineering although this is not always offered at many undergraduate colleges or universities.

Advanced Chemical Engineering Degrees

A bachelor's degree in a field such as chemistry, general engineering, chemical engineering or a related field can start one on the path to a great career in chemical engineering. To realize that career, students are encouraged to pursue a master's degree or doctoral degree that focuses specifically on chemical engineering. There are many opportunities to earn such a degree both at a traditional college or university and at an accredited distance learning university.

Master Of Science Degree

The Master of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering or Masters of Chemical Engineering Degree can be earned in just a few years through distance education or traditional coursework. Students will study advanced concepts in mathematics, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, physics, chemistry and other areas related to the application of chemical engineering. Successful completion of the Masters in Chemical Engineering Degree through an accredited university will qualify one for basic chemical engineering work.

Further Education

Those with a Masters in Chemical Engineering can go on to earn a doctoral degree in the discipline that will qualify them for higher and more complex chemical engineering jobs. Some high-level positions in the U.S. Government are crucial to national defense or national health and can only be performed by those with a very high level of knowledge and experience in chemical engineering. The combination of a doctoral degree in chemical engineering and/or a good deal of experience with complex chemical engineering projects will qualify one for these positions. Many chemical engineers will also choose to further their training with professional engineer licenses.

Choosing A Degree

Those with an affinity for science and mathematics have an ideal situation for applying that interest with the field of chemical engineering. Chemical engineering courses of study will be appropriate for those with general backgrounds in biology, chemistry, physics and those who have exhibited an aptitude for mathematics and mechanical engineering.

Career Opportunities

A degree in chemical engineering qualifies an individual for advanced research in development in a wide variety of areas. Chemical engineers use their skills to create more efficient, cost-effective methods of producing airplane parts, affordable nutrients, hospital equipment, pharmaceuticals, and even clothing and cosmetics.

Earning Potential

Chemical engineers, especially those with higher degrees or professional engineering licenses, can command impressive wages for the work that they do. The amount they can earn will vary depending upon whether they apply their skills in the private, public or military sector and how much they contribute to the product or service they are working on. On average, chemical engineers tend to make around $53,813 to $79,591 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Getting Your Degree Online

You should have no problem finding the chemical engineering program you are looking for at an accredited online university. There are distance learning programs available that can give students a comprehensive understanding of the physics, chemistry and math required for expertise in chemical engineering. Students will also learn such areas as polymer science, thermodynamics and more. Top online master's degrees in chemical engineering will focus even more intensively on these disciplines as well as on applied research.

Getting Your Degree Offline

Chemical engineering is also available at brick-and-mortar colleges and universities as an undergraduate major or as an advanced degree. Students can study chemical engineering right after high school or as part of a continuing education program. Many students will complete a chemical engineering degree within five years that will prepare them for jobs in a variety of related fields. Laboratory research will be facilitated at a physical university and you should explore the facilities of different schools before you choose the school where you will be taking your classes and doing your chemical engineering research.

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Chemical Engineering Degree FAQs

In What Areas of Industry Is Chemical Engineering Applied?

Chemical engineering is evident in a wide variety of industries. It is used in the development of new flavors, fragrances, detergent products, agrochemicals like pesticides and herbicides, plastics, polymers and many other products.

Is a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Required for Admission Into an Online Chemical Engineering Program?

Every school has its own criteria for admission, but in most cases, a bachelor's degree is the prerequisite for an online degree program in chemical engineering. This is because most online chemical engineering programs provide the student with a master's degree in a highly specialized area of study.

What Is the Difference Between a Chemical Engineer and a Traditional Engineer?

The primary difference between these two designations is that chemical engineers use chemicals in their application of traditional engineering disciplines. Chemical engineers are often referred to as "universal engineers" because their education enables them to work in a range of areas within the engineering field.

How Long Does It Take to Obtain a Master's Degree in Chemical Engineering Online?

If you already have your bachelor's degree in engineering, it should take between two and three years to obtain your master's degree in chemical engineering. You can adjust this timeframe, as the completion of the program relies on your ability and dedication to take the classes. Since online programs allow for a maximum of schedule flexibility, you can finish the program in as little or as much time as it takes.

When You Say That Online Programs Are Flexible, What Does That Mean?

With online programs and other forms of distance education, the curriculum has a loose schedule. This is because most people who enroll in this type of schooling already work full-time jobs and may have limited time for learning.

By enrolling in an online degree program in chemical engineering, you are receiving a quality college education in the form of convenient classes that you can take in your own time and from the comfort of your own home. Since more accredited colleges and universities recognize the need and desire of full-time professionals to return to academics, they have developed excellent programs that mirror what is available from a campus-based program.

Chemical Engineering Student Guide

A degree in chemical engineering can be the gateway to a number of careers in many different industries. Chemical engineers are used in manufacturing positions, for help with designing products and for the design of new life saving drugs. Chemical engineers use their engineering skills combined with chemical science to create new and wonderful innovations the world over.

Chemical Engineering Books

Chemical engineers will have to be well grounded in the basics of both chemistry and general engineering. Some books that can aid in this process include ìBasic Principles and Calculations in Chemical Engineeringî by David M. Himmelblau and James B. Riggs, Elementary Principles of Chemical Processes by Richard M. Felder, ìHandbook of Chemical Engineering Calculationsî by Nicholas P. Chopey and ìUnit Operations of Chemical Engineeringî by Warren L. McCabe.

Chemical Engineering Articles And Databases

Since chemical engineering is something of a broad discipline, crossing a variety of fields of scientific and mechanical endeavor, articles relevant to chemical engineering will be found in a number of different databases. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) can be very helpful in this regard. The NIST Data Gateway ( provides a list of many databases useful in chemical engineering, including databases related to analytical chemistry, biometrics, nuclear physics, chemical kinetics, construction, industrial fluids, mathematics and thermophysical and thermochemical data.

Chemical Engineering Online Journals

One journal useful to chemical engineering that you can reference from the NIST Data Gateway is the Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data. Other helpful chemical engineering journals include the Journal of Chemical & Engineering Data, the Chemical Engineering Journal and Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology.

Other Chemical Engineering Research Tools

The National Institute of Standards and Technology is an ideal resource for chemical engineering research. Students can visit their website at The NIST features conferences where those in the top of their fields come to discuss breaking innovations in science in technology. NIST laboratories create the standards for all measurements required for engineering work. The NIST features a massive research library, a collection of standard reference materials and of course the NIST Data Gateway, providing access to possibly all the chemical engineering research information you could ever need.

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