Top Careers in Engineering (With Salaries, Job Duties and Education Requirements)
Updated October 14, 2022
If you want to pursue a career in engineering, there are several options to consider. To get familiar with the field of engineering as a whole, it’s important to understand the various job titles, educational requirements and employment trends in each discipline. In this article, we list some of the best engineering career paths along with the salaries, job duties and degrees to explore in engineering.
What is an engineer?
An engineer is a professional who uses math and science to identify and solve problems in their related field. They are responsible for the innovation of new products, technologies and processes to advance our way of life.
Engineering is a very broad field with different career paths to choose from depending on your interests, skills and career goals. In the past, engineering was divided into four main branches: mechanical, chemical, civil and electrical. Through the years, the number of engineering degrees and career paths has expanded significantly. Today, there are now six major branches of engineering: mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, management and geotechnical, and hundreds of different subcategories of engineering under each branch.
Within the scope of engineering, you can even pursue various multidisciplinary STEM fields, such as biomedical engineering to research and develop medical devices, or a subcategory such as cosmetics engineering to transform innovative substances into unique formulations for the cosmetics and personal care industry.
Related: Choosing the Best Engineering Major
Careers in engineering
Here are some of the top career paths in engineering for you to compare. For the most up-to-date information from Indeed, click on each job title, salary or company link provided below.
National average salary: $90,093 per year
Primary duties: Biomedical engineers work in a combination of biology, medicine and engineering. They primarily design prosthetic limbs, artificial organs and manufacturing materials for patient care. Because of advances in biomedical engineering, we have access to X-rays, ultrasounds, EKGs and countless other procedures and devices in the medical world. Using their knowledge of science, math and medicine, these engineers also conduct research and development, install and repair medical devices, and collaborate with multifunctional teams.
Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from a university or college accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET)
National average salary: $93, 668 per year
Primary duties: Electrical engineers design and develop electrical systems, from large-scale projects to small-scale systems. Their day-to-day tasks consist of designing, developing and testing various forms of electrical equipment. As the largest field of engineering, electrical engineers work on everything from digital cameras and roller coasters to medical tests and power grids.
Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in electrical, electronics engineering or electrical engineering technology from an ABET-accredited program.
National average salary: $63,797 per year
Primary duties: Chemical engineers solve problems as they relate to the chemical world of atoms and molecules. While they can sometimes be found conducting experiments inside a lab, most of their day is spent designing and building machines on-site at factories or production facilities. Most of a chemical engineer’s responsibilities include researching and developing materials into functional products and substances.
Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from an ABET-accredited program. A graduate degree might be required for those who want to pursue management, academia, or research positions.
National average salary: $90,983 per year
Primary duties: Because mechanical engineering is such a diverse field, many subcategories overlap with other sectors of engineering, which allows for a wide range of job opportunities. Mechanical engineers concentrate on the mechanical process of designing and constructing machines and devices. They also focus on research and development, product design, manufacturing and testing their ideas for functionality. A mechanical engineer can develop anything from a child’s toy to an aircraft carrier. Most of their time is spent in an office, but they may need to be on-site to tend to equipment as needed.
Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from an ABET-accredited program. Beyond that, a graduate or doctoral program is recommended for those interested in research and development in academia or private industry.
National average salary: $53,009 per year
Primary duties: Computer engineers work with software, hardware and system development. While computer hardware engineers piece together components to repair and upgrade computer equipment, software engineers use programming languages to develop and improve computer programs and apps.
Computer engineers design systems and networks based on their end user’s needs. They work on personal and company-issued computers as well as technical equipment used by medical professionals that store patient charts or control the functions of MRI machines.
Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer programming, computer engineering, computer information systems, electrical engineering or a related computer field from an ABET-accredited program.
National average salary: $104,472 per year
Primary duties: Aerospace engineers design, test and manufacture various aircraft, spacecraft, satellites and missiles. Rather than being involved with the components of an airplane, aerospace engineers must understand aerodynamics and rocket propulsion.
Aerospace engineers can choose to specialize in air travel or space flight. They can serve as systems engineers, engineering project managers or consultants on highly technical jobs in the private or military sector. While astronautical engineers might work on spacecraft that sends the next crew to the International Space Station, aeronautical engineers might develop commercial airliners or military jets.
Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in aerospace or aeronautical engineering from an ABET-accredited program.
National average salary: $86,353 per year
Primary duties: Civil engineers develop and build a wide variety of projects including buildings, roads, water reservoirs and bridges. There are a variety of career options within the civil engineering industry. For example, structural engineers spend their day supervising construction teams to ensure compliance with building codes and safety requirements while transportation engineers work alongside other engineers to improve the traffic control system for a municipality.
Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, civil engineering technology or similar specialty from an ABET-accredited program.
National average salary: $75,302 per year
Primary duties: Petroleum engineers discover new gas and oil sources and research how best to implement new technologies for an environmentally friendly extraction. Petroleum engineers are constantly developing new methods for digging into the Earth’s surface, often working alongside geologists.
Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from an ABET-accredited program. Those who pursue a graduate degree may qualify for research or university teaching positions.
National average salary: $82,440 per year
Primary duties: Environmental engineers use their knowledge to aid communities with environmental problems such as oil spills. They also conduct various investigations, draft reports, create detailed environmental detection plans and make sure facilities are up to code.
Since their main area of concern is the environment, they’re constantly looking for ways to clean bodies of water, methods for the safe disposal of toxic waste, how to improve recycling programs and similar environmental protection projects. Environmental engineers may work in a variety of subfields that include soil management, ecological sustainability and other environmental development sectors.
Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a similar engineering field such as general, civil or chemical engineering from an ABET-accredited program.
National average salary: $78,923 per year
Primary duties: Marine engineers design and construct ship engines and other seagoing vessels like oil platforms and cruise ships. They can work for commercial marine companies, nonprofit organizations or government agencies like the U.S. Navy.
Marine engineers work on ship interior systems to ensure these structures have the power, steering, heating, cooling, ventilation systems, and hydraulics required to function. Marine engineers draft plans, create schematics and determine the project’s building schedule and cost estimate. They also carry out inspections and run tests to make sure these vessels are in proper working order.
Education requirements: Bachelor’s degree in marine engineering from an ABET-accredited program. A graduate degree could lead to management positions in shipping or naval architecture.
Related: 21 STEM Jobs That Are in Demand
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