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Chemical Engineering

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Chemical Engineering Major

Chemical engineering is a major that typically falls into the Engineering category.

There are 18 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in chem eng, 178 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 145 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 114 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Chem Eng Degree?

In 2017, roughly 11,100 chemical engineering majors graduated with a bachelor’s degree. This makes it #45 in popularity of all the majors we track. This major tends to be male dominated. About 65.1% of recent graduates are men.

Racial Distribution

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

  • Asian: 12.5%
  • Black or African American: 3.9%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 9.1%
  • White: 57.7%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 11.1%
  • Other Races: 5.8%
Chemical Engineering Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in chem eng. About 11.1% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending chem eng majors to the U.S. are China, India and Saudi Arabia.

What Will You Learn as a Chemical Engineering Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to chem eng to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Chem Eng Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

Important Knowledge Areas for Chemical Engineering Majors

Skills for Chem Eng Majors

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

Important Skills for Chemical Engineering Majors

Abilities for Chem Eng Majors

A major in chem eng will prepare for your careers in which the following abilities are important:

Important Abilities for chem eng Majors

What Can You Do With a Chem Eng Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with chem eng:

Careers Related to Chemical Engineering
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Biofuels/Biodiesel Technology and Product Development Managers



Chemical Engineers



Biochemical Engineers



Architectural and Engineering Managers



Nanosystems Engineers



Engineering Professors



Chemical Engineering Major Salary

Average salaries range from $99,000 to $114,000 for careers related to chem eng. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Chem Eng Major  ( 99000 to 114000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Chemical Engineering Major Jobs

Some careers associated with chem eng require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much education do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to chem eng have obtained the following education levels.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Chemical Engineering
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Chemical Engineering Programs

There are 178 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, with 2 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Getting your degree online is not easy and includes watching and listening to hours of lectures, participating in group charts, submitting papers by the appropriate deadline and taking tests. Some online programs will also feature internships or in-person clinical hours.

Is a Chemical Engineering Major Worth It?

The median salary for a chem eng grad is $114,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 192% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,495,600 after 20 years!

chemical engineering salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: Mikulova via License

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