Future Bachelor's students often stumble upon this question: what's the difference between Chemistry and Chemical Engineering? The two disciplines are interconnected and often overlap, but the differences are relevant for both your studies and future career.
To sum up the main differences in a couple of sentences, we can say that chemists spend most of their time doing thorough research, working with substances, materials, and chemical reactions in a laboratory.
Chemical engineers, on the other hand, take materials and chemicals and use them to design and create useful equipment and machines for various fields, like medicine, agriculture, product manufacturing, etc.
But you’re a curious student, who won’t be satisfied with simple explanations! That's why, in this article, we'll go more in-depth, explaining the differences and similarities between studying a Bachelor’s in Chemistry and a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering.
You'll also learn what to expect from future careers in each of these 2 diverse and often overlapping fields.
What is Chemistry?
Chemistry explores all the aspects of substances, molecules, the reactions between them, at a microscopic scale. Doing research, chemists observe these chemical reactions and properties and learn how to use them to create new substances and materials.
Sure, you may dismiss chemists as the mad scientists with one test tube in each hand, who laugh maniacally whenever they combine the two. But the real ones tend to stay a lot in laboratories, carefully examining and blending chemical elements, working on new materials, and looking for ways to improve the current knowledge and research processes… All this while laughing maniacally, naturally.
What is Chemical Engineering?
Chemical Engineering focuses on using raw chemicals and materials to design, manufacture, and test new products, systems, machineries, and devices, which are used in various industries. These systems and devices make our life safer, easier, and improve our overall standard of living.
People often choose to study Chemical Engineering because it is a very broad field, allowing future graduates to specialise in any number of areas, such as food production, fossil fuels, make-up, consumer products, and so on.
Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering - What you will learn
Chemistry is an “all hands on deck”-type of discipline, so Bachelor's lectures will be combined with many hours of research and laboratory work. A Chemical Engineering Bachelor’s degree is multidisciplinary and includes the core topics of a Chemistry degree as well as Engineering courses.
But have no fear! After these 3 or 4 years of hard labour, you will develop a wide range of good-to-brag-about skills:
Where should you study your Bachelor’s in Chemistry?
Chemistry is a Natural Science, and, by definition, its rules are the same everywhere. But this doesn't mean studying it will be the same everywhere. We recommend you to study in the leading countries in the chemical industry:
If these aren’t the destinations you were considering, we can also suggest some popular universities for studying a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, like:
- American University of Sharjah (AUS), United Arab Emirates
- Bishop’s University, Canada
- Keuka College, USA
- University of Wolverhampton, UK
- Radboud University, Netherlands
Where should you study your Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering?
Based on our data, we've found out that the most Bachelor’s degrees in Chemical Engineering are offered by countries like:
- Chemical Engineering in the United States
- Chemical Engineering in the United Kingdom
- Chemical Engineering in Canada
Also, some of the Chemical Engineering schools we warmly recommend, which are in other countries than the ones previously mentioned, are:
- Business Academy Aarhus, Denmark
- University College London, UK
- Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Portugal
- Colorado State University, USA
Chemistry vs. Chemical Engineering careers
Chemists can work in laboratories, offices, classrooms, on the field, or combine some of these options. Meanwhile, Chemical Engineering graduates can opt to work as engineers in a wide range of fields.
To give you an idea about how much you can earn after graduation, here are the average salaries for the most popular Chemistry and Chemical Engineering jobs in the US according to Glassdoor:
Average salaries for popular Chemistry jobs
- Analytical Chemist - 51,280 USD/year
- Clinical Biochemist - 52,720 USD/year
- Forensic Scientist - 57,750 USD/year
- Pharmacologist - 113,700 USD/year
- Toxicologist - 71,500 USD/year
Average salaries for popular Chemical Engineering jobs
- Quality Manager - 57,490 USD/year
- Energy Manager - 81,200 USD/year
- Materials Engineer - 68,325 USD/year
- Mining Engineer - 72,325 USD/year
- Manufacturing Engineer - 68,690 USD/year
So, after you find out which of these two degrees fit your skills and personality, you can go on and apply for the best suited Bachelor’s or Master's degree, and contribute to making life on our planet a little better and healthier. Plus, you will actually be able to understand the ingredient list on the back of the packages in the grocery store.