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The Highest Earning Careers in Engineering

The Highest Earning Careers in Engineering

Engineering careers are ideal for aspiring individuals who are enthusiastic when it comes to solving problems, designing and collaborating with others. Choosing to pursue a career in engineering means joining an industry where opportunities are projected to grow faster than average profession and the average salary is among the highest in the United States.

If you hold an associate degree, you’ll find most of your opportunities for careers in both support and technician specific roles. To become an engineer, it is suggested that you complete at least a Bachelor’s Degree in an engineering program from a school accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology. While admission requirements might vary, they are extremely competitive.

There are several well-paid careers in engineering that are available to graduates especially if you have additional years of practical experience. Continuing your education is definitely encouraged.

Engineering compiles six major branches:

  1. Mechanical
  2. Chemical
  3. Civil
  4. Electrical
  5. Management
  6. Geotechnical

Under each of these areas are different kinds of career trajectories within engineering including Aerospace, Chemical, Civil, Computer Engineering, Electrical and Electronics, Environmental, Food Research, Industrial, Manufacturing and Product, Mechanical, Nuclear, Optical, Petroleum, Quality, Telecommunications, Engineering Management, Engineering Support and Technicians.

Aerospace Engineering

The specialty of vehicle engineering includes dealing with the development of both aircraft and spacecraft. For a career in engineering, you will need a Bachelor's, Master's or Ph.D. degree in Aerospace Engineering.

The average salary of an aerospace engineer in the United States is $94,700.

Chemical Engineering

This is a large umbrella that includes a variety of engineering careers, disciplines and specialties such as materials and process engineering. Chemical engineers find new ways to convert raw materials into something valuable.

The national average salary of a chemical engineer is $78,600. 

Civil Engineering

This particular branch deals with infrastructure projects. From the initial concept and design all the way through to its construction, operation and maintenance, civil engineers do it all. They get their hands dirty doing field work and can also work from behind a desk in research and education.

In the United States, civil engineering technologist salaries average $48,800. The average national salary of a civil engineer is $79,000 and depending on your location and experience can reach $99,000. 

Computer Engineering

Combining computer science with electrical engineering, engineers create and improve computer hardware, software, architecture and operating systems. If you love math, data analysis and programming this might be the right position for you.

Electrical Engineering

This specific branch is divided into a wide range of different sub disciplines like electronics, telecommunications, nanoelectronics and computer engineering. Electrical engineers are employed within different industries and can have more than one expertise while assuming distinct roles during their careers.

The national electrical engineer salary averages $87,300 but can reach almost $110,000 depending on location and experience. 

Environmental Engineering

This is a subdiscipline of civil engineering which is also offered as a program in chemical engineering. Environmental engineers work to improve the world around us. Specialties include wastewater, ecological and urban engineering.

The national average for an environmental engineer salary is $72,200 in a range that goes from $47,900 to $95,700. 

Food Research Engineering

A specialty of agricultural and biological engineering, this field involves and combines multiple engineering disciplines. Engineers in food research usually have a background in mechanical, electrical, civil and additional branches of engineering.

The median food processing engineer salary is $83,800. 

Industrial Engineering

The key to manufacturing operations and industrial engineers work within logistics and resource management departments. Specialties include manufacturing, systems and reliability engineering.

The average salary of industrial engineers in the U.S. is $74,300. 

Manufacturing & Product Engineering

As a specialty of industrial engineering, an area that focuses on researching, developing and optimizing machines, tools, equipment and manufacturing process systems. Manufacturing engineers aim to increase production quantity and quality while minimizing costs.

The national manufacturing process engineers’ salary comes in at $82,100. 

Mechanical Engineering

This engineering branch includes specialties like vehicle and thermal engineering. Mechanical engineers are behind the design of machines using and generating power.

The national median salary of a mechanical engineer is currently at $79,000. 

Nuclear Engineering

Utilizing the benefits of nuclear energy and radiation is what nuclear specific engineering careers are mainly about. Most nuclear engineers work for the federal government, for scientific research and for development services.

In the United States, the salary for a nuclear engineer is on average $88,900. 

Optical Engineering

This is a specialty of electrical engineering in which one would study light properties and build devices accordingly in order to use it. Optical engineers have knowledge of numerous engineering concepts and can work within a wide range of industries including agriculture, computer science, medical and entertainment.

The estimated median optical engineer salary is $87,000 across the United States. 

Petroleum Engineering

This interdisciplinary field of engineering’s main effort is to find optimal ways to extract oil and gas from deposits below the ground. In this field, you will study and develop methods and techniques to make drilling operations functional, effective, safe and cost effective.

The national salary of petroleum engineers averages $58,900.

Quality Engineering

Quality assurance engineers can work in and have knowledge of multiple engineering branches. Their job is to make sure products, processes and systems meet regulations, fulfill quality standards and satisfy expectations.

It is estimated that industrial quality engineer salaries average $90,000 across the country. 

Telecommunications Engineering

This specialty of electronic engineering based design improves telecommunication systems. 

Telecommunications engineers’ salary on a national scale runs between $35,100 to $103,500 depending on your level of education, experience and job location. 

Engineering Management

As a manager, director, vice president or president, these are four of the most common engineering management roles. To attain one of these positions, working continuously on your education and years of experience in the field will set you up for these types of roles in management.

For careers in management, you need at least a bachelor’s degree. With a master's or doctoral degree, your chances of getting noticed by companies and hiring managers can potentially increase.

The estimated median salary of directors of engineering across the country is $133,400.

Engineering Support & Technicians

Professionals in this category usually work under the lead of an engineering manager. Also known as IT support engineers, working in a wide range of industries they mainly perform technical and product related tasks and are great creative problem solvers.

Many engineering careers as support and technician are entry-level positions. To start, you only need an associate degree in technology like Electrical Engineering or Computer Science.

These positions have an average national salary of $61,400.