14 Types of Engineering Careers To Explore

By Indeed Editorial Team

February 18, 2021

Engineering careers offer the opportunity for creative thinking, innovative experimentation and intriguing design and development. With an engineering background, you might work with aircraft, watercraft, road design, software programs and more. There are many engineering careers that you can explore if you’re interested in this area. In this article, we list some of the most popular types of engineering careers, their average salaries and general job descriptions.

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What is engineering?

Engineering refers to any type of science concerned with the design, construction and use of machines, systems and structures. It is a vast field that has applications in nearly every industry, from manufacturing and production to shipping and construction. Engineers of various types were likely involved in the home you live in, the building you work at, the bridges you drive over and the products that you buy. If you’re interested in problem solving, experimentation and machine development, a career in engineering may suit you.

Popular careers in engineering

If you’re interested in a career in engineering, you’ll find that there are many specialties to explore. Below are 14 common types of engineering careers you might consider:

  1. Industrial engineer

  2. Biomedical engineer

  3. Environmental engineer

  4. Marine engineer

  5. Civil engineer

  6. Mechanical engineer

  7. Petroleum engineer

  8. Computer engineer

  9. Electrical engineer

  10. Nuclear engineer

  11. Materials engineer

  12. Chemical engineer

  13. Aeronautical engineer

  14. Software engineer

1. Industrial engineer

National average salary: $73,602 per year

Primary duties: Industrial engineers evaluate and improve production processes. They strive to eliminate waste and improve efficiency in these systems. Their responsibilities include evaluating production schedules and process flows, determining ways to improve efficiency and developing management control systems for improved effectiveness and lowered costs. They work closely with vendors, management and staff to better understand the processes in a facility and pinpoint the best ways to improve upon them.

2. Biomedical engineer

National average salary: $76,018 per year

Primary duties: Biomedical engineers work with biological and medical sciences. They design and develop equipment, systems and software for the healthcare industry. A biomedical engineer is responsible for installing, maintaining, evaluating and repairing biomedical equipment, such as diagnostic machines and artificial organs. They train clinicians on the proper use of such technology, prepare research papers and technical reports and report their findings to colleagues, scientists, clinicians, management and the public.

3. Environmental engineer

National average salary: $76,189 per year

Primary duties: Environmental engineers research and develop ways to better protect and improve the environment. They may focus on air pollution, wastewater management, soil quality, water-borne diseases, environmental remediation, ozone depletion or other targeted areas.

An environmental engineer could develop technology to reduce automobile emissions or find a more effective way to measure climate change. They design large scale projects that will protect the environment and typically follow these through, obtaining permits, overseeing construction, monitoring use of the facility and inspecting operation to ensure compliance with the appropriate regulations.

4. Marine engineer

National average salary: $79,748 per year

Primary duties: Marine engineers work with constructions that are used on or in the water. This includes submarines, tankers, aircraft carriers and sailboats. They work primarily with the internal systems of these ships, including the electrical, refrigeration, propulsion and steering systems. The architectural elements of the ship fall under the purview of the naval architect, who deals with the form and structure surrounding the marine engineer’s systems.

5. Civil engineer

National average salary: $80,692 per year

Primary duties: Civil engineers typically work for the government, designing and developing cities or towns. They may work on buildings, roads, tunnels, dams, airports and bridges. They are responsible for assessing an area’s needs and designing constructions that facilitate a safe commute and productive function.

Buildings must be constructed to withstand environmental hazards, such as hurricanes or earthquakes, as effectively as possible. Responsibilities include analyzing soil tests, determining the most effective building materials, preparing cost estimates, submitting permit applications and ensuring compliance with all regulations.

6. Mechanical engineer

National average salary: $81,789 per year

Primary duties: Mechanical engineers work with force, energy and motion, using these elements to design, develop and test mechanical devices. Their job responsibilities include designing effective tools, improving mechanical technologies, drafting blueprints, constructing prototypes, testing theories and proving functional ways to use products and procedures. Depending on the scope of their project, these engineers might modify existing equipment, produce new designs or draft documentation to guide future users.

7. Petroleum engineer

National average salary: $84,103 per year

Primary duties: Petroleum engineers work with the equipment that digs beneath the earth’s surface to extract gas and oil. They may experiment with new techniques for accessing new oil wells or better utilizing existing ones. Petroleum engineers work closely with geologists in the field to plan and oversee drilling operations. They are responsible for finding the most profitable and safest way to recover oil and gas.

8. Computer engineer

National average salary: $84,605 per year

Primary duties: Computer engineers work with the software and hardware that make computers run. They develop and test technology to make sure that it works properly. A computer engineer may focus on computer games, business applications, security systems or another specialized area.

These professionals are also responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting existing systems, assessing them for flaws and developing the appropriate patches or upgrades to keep the company running smoothly.

Read more: Learn About Being a Computer Engineer

9. Electrical engineer

National average salary: $85,396 per year

Primary duties: Electrical engineers work with power generation and supply systems. They might work with electrical generation systems, wiring, lighting and circuitry. This career can take many forms. It may focus on developing instrumentation that measures electricity, improving systems that generate electricity or streamlining the installations that transmit and utilize power. Electrical engineers regularly evaluate existing systems and solutions and look for ways to improve efficiency in the energy sector.

Read more: Learn About Being an Electrical Engineer

10. Nuclear engineer

National average salary: $85,591 per year

Primary duties: Nuclear engineers work with nuclear energy and radiation. They research the properties of nuclear energy and develop systems and processes to make the best use of this resource. They may develop medical or industrial uses for radioactive materials and establish protocols for working with these materials safely.

11. Materials engineer

National average salary: $88,465 per year

Primary duties: A materials engineer is responsible for developing, processing and testing the materials that are used in various manufacturing processes. This can include plastics, ceramics, metals and composite materials. Materials engineers study these materials to determine their electrical, mechanical or chemical properties and assess their usefulness in different applications. They operate analytical equipment, prepare samples for testing, interpret the data and organize results so they can make informed recommendations on the best materials to use for new products.

12. Chemical engineer

National average salary: $93,080 per year

Primary duties: Chemical engineers typically work with pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals or food processing. These professionals research and develop new manufacturing processes for chemical production, byproduct treatment and manufacturing operations.

They develop safety protocols, establish standard processes and evaluate processing equipment and chemical engineering methods to ensure compliance with environmental and safety regulations. Chemical engineers may routinely test, assess and troubleshoot existing equipment and processes as well.

13. Aeronautical engineer

National average salary: $97,150 per year

Primary duties: Aeronautical engineers, also referred to as aerospace engineers, work in aviation, aerospace and defense. They develop, design, test and maintain aeronautical engineering systems that are used in helicopters, space shuttles, passenger airliners, fighter planes, stealth jets and other airborne vehicles. These engineers often focus on a particular part of the construction, such as electrical systems, structural engineering or software solutions.

14. Software engineer

National average salary: $104,682 per year

Primary duties: Software engineers design, develop, install and maintain computer software. They typically focus on either operating systems or computer programs and applications. These professionals utilize math, computer science and engineering skills to create new software, develop multi-platform programming and test their coding for stability and functionality. They regularly assess the performance of existing software systems and recommend updates, enhancements or new installations based on the company’s needs.

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