Before beginning an educational journey towards any degree or career, it’s important to know what lies ahead for you. In terms of chemical engineering, there are some very important questions to consider, including how long it takes to earn a chemical engineering degree, and how long it takes to not only obtain your degree, but become a full professional. Use the guide below to answer these questions and more and begin mapping out your own future path.
All chemical engineers will need to obtain a bachelors degree. Bachelor degrees are of course typically four year programs, so that’s of course a good place for where to begin in terms of expected program length. However, many chemical engineering programs actually take between five and six years to complete. This is due to the complexity of the material, the number of subjects required, and also the combination of labs in addition to classroom studies.
Another consideration is that some universities offer a combined bachelors and masters degree for chemical engineering in one single track. These will typically take about six years to complete, and may be split into three years and three years, or four years and two years, depending on the specifics of your actual program.
A graduate degree isn’t required to work in chemical engineering. So you never need to get your masters. However, many employers are increasingly preferring those candidates that have gone that extra mile with their education. Masters programs on their own take between two to three years to complete. There are also doctorate programs in chemical engineering available, although they’re less common than masters. These will take between three and four years to complete depending on your pacing and the program itself.
That’s how long it takes to get your diploma, but there are extra steps involved on the journey towards becoming a full professional, no matter what field or discipline of engineering you’re entering. Engineering graduates first have to take an exam called the FE, Fundamentals of Engineering, and then they need to spend four years getting on the job experience and supervision as an EI, or EIT – Engineering Intern or Engineer in Training – which are both the same thing.
After that period of time, a second exam, Principles and Practice of Engineering can be taken, and then and only then can you become a fully licensed Professional Engineer. Because of this four year training period, many individuals pursue their masters diploma during the same time span, knocking out two major milestones at once, and then being able to come out the other side with an extra degree and full qualifications for your career.
So, you can obtain your bachelors in chemical engineering in as little as four years, although it could take longer. You’ll need four years of on the job training before you can become a Professional Engineer, and you’ll need to consider if want to pursue any advanced diplomas, which will tack on another few additional years of education onto your journey.