AIChE’s Initial Placement Survey: The Class of 2017


* Due to changes in the methodology used to field the 2017 initial placement survey, AIChE and the independent research firm Downs & St. Germain warn against directly comparing data between 2017 and previous years.

A new batch of chemical engineers entered the workforce in early summer last year. AIChE conducted its Initial Placement Survey in July 2017 to learn where those graduates were heading. Of the 1,943 respondents, the majority (77.7%) were BS-level graduates; MS-level graduates accounted for 14.1% of survey responses, and PhD graduates accounted for 8.2%. Notably, the split between male and female BS-level graduates was 55% to 45%, which is approaching 50-50 (Figure 1).


Figure 1. The gender divide was largest among students graduating with MS degrees from U.S. schools. The split of male vs. female students studying chemical engineering was smallest among BS-level graduates.

The main destination of BS and MS graduates who studied in the U.S. is industry — this accounted for almost half of all BS graduates and one-third of MS graduates (Figure 2). Approximately 28% of BS and MS graduates who studied in the U.S. are continuing their education.


Figure 2. The highest percentages of BS and MS graduates in the U.S. are heading to industrial jobs. The second-most-popular post-graduation destination for BS and MS graduates is continuing education. Unemployment is higher among MS graduates than BS-level graduates.

Industry is a less popular destination among PhD graduates, accounting for only around 20% of those surveyed (Figure 3). As expected, a large portion of the PhD graduates have chosen academic careers — almost a quarter of all respondents. Interestingly, almost 10% of U.S. PhD graduates are pursuing government employment. At the time the survey was taken, many PhD respondents indicated that they were unemployed because they were finishing their PhD requirements.


Figure 3. Academic positions are the most popular form of employment among PhD respondents graduating from U.S. schools. At the time of...

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