A scientist in a lab takes notes at a table with a microscope.

If you’re contemplating a shift into chemical engineering, your knowledge and skills from existing careers can form a solid foundation for this transition.

Chemical engineering draws knowledge from various science and engineering domains. Professionals from diverse educational backgrounds can find a new home in this field.

Common Fields That Transition into Chemical Engineering


For those with a background in chemistry, transitioning into chemical engineering can be a remarkably seamless process. The intricate understanding of molecular interactions, reaction kinetics, and thermodynamics gained with a chemistry background will lay a solid foundation for your career change.

Environmental Science

Professionals in environmental science bring a unique perspective to the field of chemical engineering. Environmental impact minimization requires expertise in pollution control, waste management, and sustainable practices.

Process Engineering

Individuals with a background in process engineering possess a wealth of knowledge in designing, optimizing, and managing industrial processes. This expertise aligns closely with the core principles of chemical engineering.

Choosing a Chemical Engineering Specialization


This specialization is dedicated to harnessing biological processes and systems to develop innovative products and strategies.


For professionals interested in the intricacies of science at the nanoscale, a specialization in nanotechnology may be for you.

Potential Chemical Engineering Career Pathways

1) Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural engineers tackle various challenges within the agricultural sector, aiming to address issues related to power sourcing, machinery efficiency, structural and facility utilization, environmental concerns, pollution mitigation, and the optimal storage and processing of agricultural products.

Potential Industries:

  • Agriculture and farming
  • Food processing,
  • Irrigation and water resource management,
  • Renewable energy,
  • Environmental consulting

Potential Jobs:

  • Irrigation engineer: Specializes in designing and maintaining irrigation systems.
  • Environmental engineer: Works on environmental sustainability projects related to agriculture.
  • Bioprocess engineer: Specializes in the production of biofuels and other bioproducts.
  • Food process engineer: Works on improving food storage, processing, and distribution.

2. Bioengineers/Biomedical Engineers:

Bioengineering aims to bridge the gap between medical and engineering disciplines by applying engineering techniques to solve complex problems in medicine. Examples of their work include designing prosthetic limbs and artificial organs to developing new drug delivery systems and medical imaging technologies. While the work of a bioengineer primarily lies at the intersection of engineering and biology, they may leverage their deep-seated understanding of chemistry and biology to pioneer novel drug therapies.

Potential Industries:

  • Healthcare and hospitals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Biotechnology
  • Medical imaging
  • Medical equipment manufacturing

Potential Jobs

  • Clinical engineer: Manages and maintains medical equipment in healthcare settings.
  • Biomechanical engineer: Focuses on the mechanics of the human body to improve the creation of various products such as wearable technology.
  • Bioinformatics specialist: Uses computational tools to analyze biological data.
  • Research scientist: Conducts research to develop new technologies for healthcare applications.
  • Pharmaceutical engineer: Works on drug design and delivery systems.

3. Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers create remedies for planetary health challenges. Their scope of work encompasses areas such as waste management, site rehabilitation, and the advancement of pollution control technologies. Some environmental engineers dedicate their efforts to exploring methods for mitigating the impacts of environmental hazards.

Potential Industries

  • Waste management
  • Water treatment and management
  • Air quality management
  • Renewable energy
  • Environmental compliance

Potential Jobs

  • Water resources engineer: Specializes in water treatment, distribution, and management.
  • Air quality engineer: Focuses on controlling air pollution and improving air quality.
  • Waste management engineer: Designs systems for the treatment and disposal of waste.
  • Renewable energy engineer: Works on the design and optimization of renewable energy systems.
  • Environmental technician: Conducts tests and field studies to monitor environmental conditions.

4. Nuclear Engineer

Nuclear engineers engage in research and project development related to the release, regulation, and utilization of nuclear energy and the safe disposal of nuclear waste. Among their endeavors, some focus on the exploration of innovative reactor designs. They may work for military defense, medicine, space exploration, and more.

Potential Industries

  • Energy production
  • National defense
  • Nuclear energy regulation
  • Industrial applications

Potential Jobs

  • Radiological engineer: Specializes in protecting people and the environment from harmful radiation.
  • Health physicist: Focuses on ensuring the safe use of radiation and radioactive materials in various settings.
  • Nuclear operations engineer: Oversees the operation of nuclear power plants.
  • Research scientist: Conducts research to develop new technologies or methods in the field of nuclear engineering.

Nuclear safety engineer: Ensures that nuclear facilities operate within established safety guidelines.

Advance Your Career with a Chemical Engineering Masters

Earning a Master of Science in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is a strategic move toward unlocking many career opportunities. This advanced degree equips you with a comprehensive skill set, positioning you at the forefront of innovation and problem-solving in a diverse range of industries, including those listed above.

Gain Knowledge and Experience

As you earn your degree, you’ll not only understand the principles of chemical engineering but will be able to apply them in real-world scenarios. For example, at JHU EP, the emphasis on practical learning in our alternative energy course replicates the teamwork projects you can expect to encounter in their careers.

Master New Technologies

In the ever-changing field of chemical engineering, staying abreast of emerging technologies is part of the job. A master’s program allows you to delve into cutting-edge advancements, from process automation to nanotechnology. This proficiency in state-of-the-art tools and techniques enhances your problem-solving abilities and makes you an invaluable asset to any organization striving for technological innovation and efficiency.

Networking Opportunities and Industry Connections

Your journey will open doors to a vast network of industry professionals, fellow students, and faculty members. The relationships you cultivate during your studies can lead to mentorship, collaborative projects, and even job referrals. Engaging with individuals with diverse work experience and seasoned experts in the field provides insights, perspectives, and potential career opportunities that may not have been accessible otherwise.

Returning to Academia as a Career Switcher

For many considering a career switch into chemical engineering, the prospect of returning to academia can feel daunting. Rest assured, this transition is a well-trodden path. Master’s programs, like the one at JHU EP, understand how to accommodate individuals from diverse educational backgrounds and provide the necessary foundation to thrive in the field. Additionally, the practical orientation of such programs ensures that you’re not just acquiring theoretical knowledge but also developing the hands-on skills employers demand.

Building Your Career in Chemical Engineering

The field of chemical engineering offers a wealth of opportunities for individuals with a passion for science. Here are some strategies to help you excel in the chemical engineering industry.

Apply Existing Skills and Experiences

As you transition into chemical engineering, your existing skills and experiences are valuable assets. A background in fields such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, or even economics can provide a solid foundation in chemical engineering. The analytical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and attention to detail you have honed in your previous career can be directly applied to the challenges you’ll face in chemical engineering.

Moreover, consider how the soft skills you’ve developed might be transferable to a career in chemical engineering. Project management, teamwork, and communication are universally valuable in any industry, and they are particularly essential in the collaborative environment of chemical engineering projects.

Lean on Your Network

Networking is a cornerstone of any successful career transition. Leverage your existing professional connections within and outside of your current industry. Attend industry events, workshops, and seminars to meet professionals in the field. Engage in chemical engineering-focused online forums and communities. Reach out to alumni from your college or university who have made a similar career switch to hear what they learned from their journey.

Find a Mentor

A mentor can provide invaluable guidance and support as you navigate your new career path. Look for experienced chemical engineering professionals willing to share their knowledge and provide advice. Your master’s program professors are subject matter experts and can be a great source of insight or mentorship.

Earn Your MS in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Johns Hopkins University EP helps career switchers who want to pursue a long-lasting career in chemical engineering. Our onsite courses offer you the chance to learn from industry veterans in an in-depth, industry-ready curriculum.

Our coursework is designed with your professional aspirations in mind to keep pace with recent trends and developments in the field. Beyond a robust curriculum, JHU EP also offers career services and training to help advance your career.

Contact admissions today to learn more about our world-class programs!