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Chem undergrad thinking of doing masters in chem engineering

  1. Jul 12, 2015 #1
    Hello, I'm new here and this is my first thread - apologies if I seem forward with my questioning, I really just want some opinions on my issue from people other than friends and family.

    I've recently finished my second year of undergraduate chemistry, and have received numerous recommendations from both friends and family to try to go into chemical engineering by way of a conversion masters course and my questions will be regarding that.

    From what I've studied so far I've found that I'm a lot more keen on the physical and analytical chemistry side of my course, and not so hot on the organic chemistry, which has made a change in direction all the more appealing.

    -Firstly, I'd like to know the thoughts on this other forum members have, whether it's a good financial decision (considering I live in the UK) as opposed to finishing my Bsc in Chemistry and finding a job?
    -Would I struggle with the level maths and physics required of me in a chemical engineering masters course, and is it difficult for chemical science students to make a switch to engineering in general?
    -Would I be better off sticking with my current course and perhaps doing an Mchem rather than a Bsc?
    -Are there any topics I should self study to get a basic grasp of before considering such a transfer, if so, which?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 12, 2015 #2
    To me it was always obvious if I wanted to be a scientist of an engineer. The way they think and work is different and this is reflected in the way you are educated.

    So we are comparing a PhD in chemistry vs MSc in Chem Engineering? The latter is a much safer career, though it depends on if there's actually chemical industry in your area.
    The math is different for sure. I don't know if they have QM in your chem BSc. It is very different from the math you use to solve a problem of producing a product in a reactor you are to design.

    Also, while companies may be quicker to hire you, you will always do way less actual engineering work in your job. And the work you do do is likely below your level of education. There's exceptions of course and you can also get a PhD in chem eng and work all your life in academics.

    As for making money. You make money when you are managing. No scientist or engineer will make tons of money. Managers will. I feel that if you are an MSc in engineering, not just a BSc, you have a lot more potential to get manager positions than someone working in a lab. In a research lab, most people will have advanced degrees and only one person will be in charge. The lab will likely be far smaller than production area. R&D will not be as close to general management as the bigger segments of the business. Also, if the guy in charge of the lab is doing really well, it would be silly to make him move to management since research is so important and no guarantee skills will transfer. As an engineer you will be managing low level educated people much earlier.

    All that said about management. Everyone and their dog wants to move to a management position. So be prepared for a lot of politics.

    As for a BSc in chemistry, you are going to do repetitive lab work until someone with an MSc or PhD discovers you are good for more than that. You become a research technician of some sort. You become the expert in some technical niche in your company that requires years of experience to do really well.
    The new younger guy/girl you train, that does have an advanced degree, is one day going to be your manager when you think it is time for you to finally move up.
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