What’s the difference between Chemical vs Civil Engineering? What kind of jobs can you get with these degrees? What kind of courses do you have to take? What is the career outlook?
If you’re reading this article, you’re probably asking yourself some of these questions as you try to navigate your different career options.
This article will try to answer some of these questions and provide insight into both degree pathways to add ease to your decision making process.
Here are some responses from practicing Civil Engineers from LinkedIn:
A more technical definition can be derived from combining Mishael and Tolu’s answers:
Civil Engineering is the discipline of engineering that meets the needs of the community through building science and technological solutions. It can be described as civilian engineering as its focus is on the design and maintenance of infrastructure that directly impacts civilians.
Here’s an excerpt from out article “Is Chemical Engineering Right For Me” which summarizes what Chemical Engineering is all about:
“Chemical and biological engineers are at the forefront of solving many societal challenges facing us today. We find them working on the development of processes and technologies such as fuel cells, conversion of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to green chemicals, mining of electronic waste, vertical farming, new vaccines, medical devices, or conversion of wood to fabrics for clothing, just to name a few.”
Whilst Civil Engineering deals with meeting communal needs through infrastructure, Chemical Engineering focuses on designing chemical and biological processes that produce products that meet our everyday needs.
Civil and Chemical Engineering aim to solve very different problems. This requires specialized skills and knowledge obtained mostly through degree specific university courses.
Both Chemical and Civil Engineering are typically 4 year courses with an additional year if you are interested in enrolling in a cooperative education program (Co-op) or working a few internships (highly recommended)
Here is a comparison of some of the main courses taken by Civil and Chemical Engineers.
Specialized skills mean specialized responsibilities.
Here are some examples of roles and job responsibilities performed by individuals who hold a Civil Engineering degree:
Here are some job responsibilities performed by individuals who hold a Chemical Engineering degree:
A lot of these jobs give a snapshot of the types of industries Civil and Chemical Engineers work in, some of which do overlap.
Let’s talk about numbers…
*U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that Chemical Engineering degrees are becoming less popular compared to Civil Engineering.
This decline may be seemingly due to employment uncertainty associated with the cyclical nature of some of the industries Chemical Engineers work in such as Oil & Gas.
That said, it should be noted that most industries often go through boom and bust cycles of employment and unemployment and this is very common for a lot of engineering disciplines.
Saturation Rate describes how saturated a discipline is by comparing the degrees awarded to the jobs available for individuals holding that degree. The higher the number, the more saturated the discipline is.
Based on this metric, Civil Engineering is a very attractive choice due to the number of jobs advertised for individuals holding that degree (7.3% vs 52.6%).
The chances of an entry level Civil/Chemical Engineer earning these amounts of money is quite low.
The average age of both Civil and Chemical Engineers is 41, reflecting that obtaining salaries of these amounts will require years of experience.
Both Civil and Chemical Engineering are attractive options for individuals considering an engineering career.
There are a lot of job prospects for Civil Engineers as the world population continues to grow and the need for infrastructure to support this growth intensifies.
Nevertheless, Chemical Engineers are responsible for a lot of processes that make our everyday lives a little bit easier.
If you’re in the process of making a decision between both degrees, we would be interested to hear how you are thinking through that in the comments!