Chemical engineering is a very bad option in Ontario.

  • Last Updated:
  • Mar 24th, 2017 11:05 pm
Dec 30, 2016
3 posts
Hey friends, OP here. I recently read through all of the comments, and though I don't have time to answer them all, I just wanted to say thanks. Many of the comments in here were really nice, some of them berated me, but either way I generally saw constructive criticism. The truth behind this post is that I was kind of in a bad mood because it was just after a bad interview I had - BUT, I still do hold my opinion. Yes, I should've pursued any chance in engineering, including that one-month contract if it's what I really wanted. I realized that, it may very well not be.

I'm trying to change myself for the better and I am trying new ways to find engineering employment. I've been keeping in touch with colleagues still - some are doing extremely well, but at the same time, many aren't. The general consensus that I see from my graduating class, from talking with a few dozen of my close friends from the class, is that you should try your best to find a decent-paying job, even if it's not in chemical engineering, or even engineering at all - you should do a job that doesn't drain you too much each day.

In the meantime I'm doing certificates (going to learn CPR soon, also going to learn how to swim haha) and trying to learn new things to make use of any extra time I have. I don't know what I said in my own initial post at the time, and I don't want to read it again because I know it's going to make me sad, but my employment is pretty bad - right now I'm pretty much in a call center. But, I'll keep making connections and trying to improve myself each day - I'm certain that a good amount of all this was my fault too. If I can't find any employment I really like, then I'll do a master's - I do have contacts from my university and if I need to, I'll swallow my pride. Again, master's = more niche, a year or two without the kind of pay from an employer, and a year or two of no working experience - but I might need to rely on it for the networking.

I received many questions regarding my ethnicity - some think I'm born here, some think I'm ethnic. I'm actually biracial, one of my parents is more..."Nordic", while another is from a South Asian country, and I myself look Asian, my first name is a very nice generic first-name, but my surname is South Asian. Of course I can't confirm this, but I feel that many interview me because of how distinctive my name is and they want to see what I look like.

I also don't have an accent. In fact, when I'm doing call center work now I get clients that complain to me about how Canada's GTA is all ethnic now and how it's "not like the good old days", etc. and I can tell that, on a phone, everybody thinks I' lieu of any better terms..."White".

With respect to my family, we're pretty poor people in terms of education but we learned how to work hard to make money. But, the recent trend is that most of the older folks in my family had secured amazing contracts long ago - many were mechanics (working at the same company for 30+ yrs) and were making $100k+ annually before retiring. But...I'm afraid those days are older. My dad himself is very scared of losing his job due to his company's only Canadian facility closing because he knows he'll have to go from $100k+ to $40-50k. With respect to my education, I was gone for a while - I visited both immediate and extended for major holidays, but my family has a very poisonous environment - most of my extended family really just want to see you get demolished. My parents, also native English speakers (dad's Asian but came here very young), have a lot of trouble conceptualizing how tough it is nowadays. Imagine their life: you and your spouse secure good jobs, making good money, and you pay off for a Toronto house ($50k-100k) within <5yrs, and you have kids in your early 20's (no age gap between them). I think though that with the company my father works at not doing well, he's starting to ask around and is starting to see how tough it really is.

So anyways, thanks everyone once again for all of the comments. I actually like to read comments where I get ripped up, too - that's fine because a lot of what I read in here was very constructive. But in the end, my opinion really does stand - chemical engineering is not good in Ontario, especially not now. I loved the curriculum, and honestly, the professors in my school really loved their job and really wanted to help the students however they could. I feel that I did learn a lot in university, both in terms of academics and how to network, too. But, the tuition is very high and risky and doing a co-operative education will make you move a lot, and will certainly put strain on you and your family.

The job prospects for chemical engineering are just very, very bad - and it will definitely make a lot of effort to try to secure a job in another field entirely. People will respect your educational background, but in the end it'll be a connection who gets the position, and you really need to work hard to make them. And I think I said this earlier but I'll reiterate - it'll take some degree of luck, too.

I really would recommend doing what's popular instead, and if you can, please (PLEASE!) do research on the jobs you can expect when you graduate with a certain degree from a school. When I tell people that I came from Waterloo and am having difficulty securing employment, people pretty much say, "Haha, what, you in nano or something?" "Chem actually" "Almost as bad!" I was clearly out of the loop when I chose a degree to pursue and it was my mistake.

Keep in touch with friends and see what kinds of jobs are popular. The people in Waterloo doing computer science are extremely well-off now. Healthcare is also where it's at here. Don't be afraid to, say, become a nurse if you're a male nowadays. When you do research, always see what geographical region they're referring to. It doesn't matter if there's tonnes of jobs in another country if nobody will sponsor you. Many companies will have small hiring radii, too.

Anyways, thanks again everyone for the supportive comments.
May 8, 2015
49 posts
All over the place
One small tip, for whatever it's worth; do not do a Master's. You'll only narrow your employment opportunities even further.

Reach out to anyone and everyone who's hiring. I'm certain you can find a job the way you are now. Not sure how set you are on remaining in your city/town but there are jobs in other areas. Be flexible and adaptable, not stubborn.

Good luck.
Jr. Member
Aug 5, 2007
162 posts
Professional Mechanical Engineer here with 6+ years of work experience who's had decent success with jobs and a high rate of offers after interviews, and helped quite a few engineer friends land jobs as well:
  • Clean up resume - avoid clutter - try and start off resume with 5 bullets highlighting your most relevant qualifications to the position.
  • Online applications are difficult - networking is key - linked in is not bad either if your profile is detailed.
  • During interviews - own the interview, show confidence, turn it from an interview into a conversation. Remember that GPA doesn't mean squat in the job market once you graduate.
  • Turn weaknesses into strengths - if they ask what you would improve about yourself, say organization skills/people skills/presenting skills because you can always get better at those.
  • Don't be greedy/picky unless you already have a job and are looking for a possible upgrade - if you are unemployed, most work is better than sitting at home doing nothing.

Remember that interviews are usually as much a test of character and communication skills as they are a test of technical skills.
Jan 23, 2017
3 posts
It is truly unfortunate that chemical engineering really is a waste of a degree. OP is 100% correct in saying this. I have the same story as the OP. Graduated last year with a masters from U of T in Chemical Engineering and having a very very hard time looking for work. Most of the folks who graduated with me are still unemployed. The engineering job market across Canada is saturated to the point that we would GLADLY leave this place if other countries would hire us.

My suggestion to OP is to take any job related to engineering, even if it is unpaid volunteer work. Working in a call center is OK but you need to be able to put engineering related stuff on your resume to be hired by an engineering firm.

I sincerely hope things will get better but I'm pessimistic.
Nov 8, 2006
456 posts
Hello all,
I've only read a couple pages and skipped to the last.
I am chem eng undergrad with 10+ years of engineering experience.

My advice is dont limit yourself to engineering work. Broaden your horizon and look for other opportunities, some might not be even linked to engineering on the surface. Apply your engineering skill on your life. Design your own system and CAD them out. You will have something to show to your potential employer. Dont be afraid to leave the country.

My first job was in a small plastic company where I was loading 2 white pellets with 1 black pellet to make plastic bag all day long.
Second job was working as a HVAC technician at minimum wage for almost 2 years. I was planning to go into getting an HVAC license until i got an overseas job.
I started work as a process engineer (mechanical) for process flows and tooling with CAD in asia. Competition was a lot worse than Canada.

Long story short, you are still young and concentrate on getting any kind of experience you can. Network, be polite, be a story teller and know when to shut up.

Good luck.
Nov 8, 2006
456 posts
OP, if you really do hate chem eng, why did you choose this program?

Looking over several of your post, you have so many negative general views of it. Try to change field or have a second specialization to fall on such as business or finance.

Just as an FYI, being a chem eng is the most versatile engineering knowledge you can get. Its your mentality that makes or breaks you and right now, its breaking you and not letting you move forward.
Sr. Member
Jan 19, 2008
652 posts
i would have taken the I " "big electric car manufacturer", who really wanted me because I did battery research as my final design project. Problem was they were offering like 40-50k USD for a position in Silicon Valley. I could go to a third-world country and live in less poverty. " job ,rented a room, and see where it went from there
Nov 8, 2006
456 posts
Yea, you could have taken a 3rd world job. But taking a job in silicon valley will teach you so much more and open so many doors for your future. Dont think of a job to make end meet, make it so that you make connections for the future.
Jr. Member
Feb 16, 2013
166 posts
1000islands wrote:
Jan 1st, 2017 10:54 am
My foreman makes 200K a year for walking around with a limp, vaping and calling people stoopid phags all day.
Mind you he has no personal life and is in 6 days of the week. Sweet gig.
Sr. Member
Dec 24, 2007
642 posts
many ppl with chem- bio- biochem- related undergraduate or master background end up doing sales jobs or totally unrelated fields, or under-employed as a rotating shift technician (very boring job IMO). I'm one of those and I'm planning a change of career to IT. I've only seen my classmates who went straight to PhD got better outcome.
× < >
Rotate image Save Cancel