It's a GREAT career. Chemical engineers can find jobs anywhere at anytime. My University had a 100?lacement at time of graduation for BS Chemical Engineers. And the pay and benefits is phenominal
*** so let's talk about what ChE's do first... and how much they get paid... and then we'll talk about what they study at college
ChE's generally work in 1 of 4 areas. Process engineering, project engineering, development engineering (research and development that is), and management.
Process engineers are in charge of a production line or department and most manufacturing companies. Doesn't matter what they make be it chemicals, or plastic molded whatever, or pharmaceuticals, or computer chips. We chemies run the lines. We're responsible for meeting production quotas. For scheduling. For analyzing quality data. We look at control charts and diagnose production line problems. We hire and manage the staffing. We schedule downtimes, upgrades, equipment replacement. We manage continuous improvement. Drive costs down and quality up. etc
Project engineers manage construction projects. The business makes a decision to "consider" a construction project. The engineer scopes it out (ie gives a rough estimate of what it will look like, what it will cost, when it will be done, and issues that come up). The engineer then meets with management to obtain approval and funding. It may be a 5 million dollar expansion and the project engineer is responsible for designing the process, bidding out the jobs to contractors, being on site during construction, addressing issues (including labor disputes), and driving the project to completion. Once the project is completed and confirmed to operate as planned, the project is handed off to process engineers. All of those chemical plants you see are designed by and the construction managed by project engineers
Development engineers are the guys who develop new products and new processes for making products. They work in R&D (research and development). They manage lab techs (who are usually chemists). The design and manage their own research problems. They get their names on patents. They get bonuses. etc.
Chemical engineers more often than not find themselves in a management position. They are managing process, project, and development engineers. They may be managing plants or global business operations. Most of the people in the upper management of my company are Chemical engineers.
Salaries... BS ChE's right out of college are pulling in about $65k/yr right now depending on where they land a job and what that job is. 10 years later, they're in the $90s or more and getting stock options and bonuses worth about 50?f that salary. In management roles, they will probably be in the $120k/yr + equivalent amount in stock options + 50?onus. That's over $250k/yr (in management roles!)
To get to that management role my advice is this. Get a BS or BA degree in chemical engineering. Go to work for a company with growth potential. After 3 years convince them to sponser an MBA program for you. Many companies will reimburse you all the costs of getting an MBA. Play the game. Get involved in the strategies of your department and group. Get to work early and leave late. Always be positive. And you'll move up.
sounds great right? what's the catch? Getting the degree!
Chemical engineering is VERY DIFFICULT. It's one of the hardest programs out there. We chemical engineers end up with a 4 year degree in chemistry + a 4 year degree in chemical engineering... all in 4 years. And MOST of the core chemical engineering courses are advanced applied differential equations. Very difficulate high level math. Here's an example of the kinds of equations ChE's work with in school http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navierâ??Stokes_equations
here's an very simple example problem from intro to chemical engineering calculations http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Ag.sqqwMM3KOOOYmZTy0Wqjty6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20100209193612AAfaVDs
As to partying... HA.. not a chance. My advice to you is this... Get your priorities in order. Get the degree first. That's all that matters. Once you have it... there will be parties beyond your imagination.