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Is a Master's Degree in Chemical Engineering Worth It?

Jul 24, 2018

Gaining a master's in chemical engineering will take an average of two years, but in that time individuals will learn how to incorporate engineering principles into the field of chemistry and be better prepared for jobs like natural sciences managers and chemist and materials scientists.

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In the process of earning their master's in chemical engineering, students will learn how to properly conduct research and be well versed in how to handle, as well as, test various chemical substances. Additionally, they will also have a deeper understand of how engineering methods and principles can be applied to the field of chemistry. Below you will be presented with five careers that are often chosen by recent graduates.

Master's in Chemical Engineering Careers/Salary

Through obtaining a master's in chemical engineering, students will gain a deeper understanding of engineering principles and chemical reactions. In addition, they will have hands-on experience within a laboratory setting and the knowledge to pursue a career within the field of research/academia upon graduation. Through taking courses in advanced general chemistry and chemical engineering labs, recent graduates will have good understanding of how to handle and store various types of chemical compounds. We'll take a look at the job growth and median salary of five jobs that recent graduates may go into.

Job Title Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Chemical Engineers $102,160 8%
Chemists and Materials Scientists $76,280 7%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $69,400 11%
Natural Sciences Managers $118,970 10%
Postsecondary Chemical Engineering Teachers $98,360 (all postsecondary engineering teachers) 15% (all postsecondary engineering teachers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Master's in Chemical Engineering Careers

Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers assist in improving food processing techniques, and aid in improving fertilizers in an effort to better the quality and quantity of the food produced. They also work to develop new fibers for clothing that improve water resistance and comfort, as well as, create drugs that are not only more affordable, but also safer to use. Additionally, they determine the safety procedures that need to be followed when handling dangerous chemicals. Gaining a master's degree will give prospective job applicants greater experience within a laboratory setting, making them ideal candidates to head research teams.

Chemists and Materials Scientists

Chemists and materials scientists work within research and development and are required to hold a master's degree or higher to do so. During this research, they look at the composition and structure, as well as the properties of various types of matter, and the scientific laws associated with them. Additionally, they educate fellow scientists and laboratory technicians on the processes associated with chemical testing and processing. Furthermore, they often oversee production and enforce quality control standards within chemical plants.

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists work with government agencies to help with the formation of new environmental protection policies and aid in identifying ways that human behavior can be changed in order to avoid potential environmental problems in the future. For those individuals who choose to work in the field of research, they often have to write grant proposals in order to securing funding for a given project. These same individuals collect water, soil, air, and food samples from the environment and analyze them to determine where potential environmental problems might be occurring. While individuals can secure this job with a bachelor's, having a master's will help them move up higher within their given organization.

Natural Sciences Managers

Natural sciences managers direct physicists, chemists, and biologists during the course of research. They oversee sample collection and production, as well as quality control and testing procedures. These same individuals actively monitor lab equipment and supplies to ensure that all equipment is functioning properly and that the laboratory is properly stocked at any given time. Additionally, they hire and supervise staff, as well as, evaluate them on a regular basis.

Postsecondary Chemical Engineering Teachers

Postsecondary chemical engineering teachers usually need a PhD in order to teach at a university, but often times a master's degree is all that is needed at most community colleges. Individuals in this line of work instruct students on the chemical and physical properties and compositional changes of substances. They teach students the principles of engineering for the development of machines, materials, services, and instruments. Additionally, they provide insight into the qualitative and quantitative methods related to chemical analysis. Furthermore, they often aid students in their research and laboratory work and provide guidance on the proper use and maintenance of equipment within the lab.

Master's in Chemical Engineering Degree Program Information

Those who seek to gain entrance into such programs will need to have an undergraduate degree with a 3.0 GPA or better in chemical engineering, chemistry, physics, mechanical engineering, biology, or closely related field, and have met course perquisites. Once admitted, students engage in coursework and research and take, on average, two years to complete their master's program. The cost to attend such programs can vary widely. According to U.S. News & World Report, yearly tuition at top programs can range from $10,000 at a public university to $50,000 at a private institution. While this is the case, the good news is that most graduate programs provide tuition assistance through the form of teaching/research assistantships, as well as, stipends, and often times the cost of attendance is completely covered as a result. During this time period, students will engage in coursework related to advanced chemical reactions, microhydrodynamics, advanced thermodynamics, and chemical engineering methods.

Securing a master's degree gives recent graduates the opportunity to gain access to careers in research or academia that aren't typically available for those with a bachelor's. The master's program gives them a deeper understanding of chemistry and engineering principles.

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