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How hard to get an entry chemical engineering position?

  1. Aug 16, 2015 #1
    I am a nontraditional applicant with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience. I am almost finished a master's degree in chemical engineering, but many jobs that I wish to apply to have a "bachelor's of engineering" as a requirement. And a master's as only a "preference." Would these companies still be willing to consider me? If I have a master's in the field, but no bachelor's, do I fulfill the bachelor's requirement or am I automatically kicked out of the applicant pool?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2015 #2
    I came from a non-traditional background. And I was curious if any chemical engineers, experienced in the field, would be able to offer any advice. How can I go about getting a entry-level job in chemical engineering and how likely is it?

    A little bit on my background. I am a graduate of MIT with a bachelor's in neuroscience and minor in chemistry. I switched fields to chemical engineering and am currently undertaking my final year of a master's degree at the University of Maryland: College Park. My cumulative GPA is 3.46/4.00. I have a concentration in mechanical engineering, and I should have a paper in biomaterials published by the end of the academic year. I have no industry experience. Nor do I know how to go about getting an internship.

    What sectors are my best bet for hiring? Should I focus on biochemical/biomedical engineering? Am I still eligible for more traditional chemical engineering occupations such as oil and gas? Although my background does not emphasize petroleum engineering, can the versatility of my background still have me hired at a great company like Schlumberger? Will companies scoff at my non-traditional background (i.e only 2 years of hardcore chemical engineering courses)? Or can I use it to my benefit? When are the best times to apply (as I hear hiring seasons are very cyclical)?

    And also, do I need an internship to vastly increase the competiveness of my application? My time in lab is sort of like a full-time job. I often have to balance that with the rigors of schoolwork. And my research should lead to industrial applications (albeit in materials).

    But if I do need an internship, what can I do to go about getting one say for January or next summer? Will I look over or underqualified in my resume?

    And finally, what are the most important things that I can do separate myself from the thousands of other qualified candidates applying to chemical engineering positions? I am really invested in becoming an engineer.
  4. Aug 17, 2015 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    Yes. At least mine would, so I assume many others would also.
  5. Aug 17, 2015 #4
    Your background in engineering should be way less rigorous. All places I am familiar with, all the important theoretical knowledge, you get during your BSc. The MSc is for application, research experience, internships and some specialization.

    Best bet would be to find a place where you actually have synergy from your BSc degree. Now in this case with it being neuroscience, that will not be easy. Once you have solid job experience, the nature of your BSc should be less of an issue.

    Did your GPA suffer because you lacked the basic courses? Did you follow all the high level courses or did you do mostly undergrad courses as part of your grad degree? A minor can hardly cover for 4 years of education. Now I understand in the US in college you also catch up on basic education not gotten in high school, but that's also why you guys have a fourth year.

    They probably would still consider you, as you on paper should know more than a BSc, but if they don't want a MSc in ChemE and they want someone who has experience, they may flag you as less than ideal.
    Just hard to see in which cases the Neuroscience BSc-ChemE MSc would be an advantage over all the other options.

    In most places ChemE is an excellent degree for employment, so I would really start worrying. There's a lot more to getting a job than just your degree.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2015
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