What Does an Engineer Do?
Resourceful, calculated, and thorough, engineers design, build, manage, and produce almost everything we interact with on a daily basis—bridges and roads, buildings and the systems that run them efficiently, computers, and modes of transportation, as well as countless other things. The world of engineering is quite large, encompassing a variety of study areas and focused degrees traversing the sciences and, sometimes, the arts. In a truly interdisciplinary field of study, engineers make the things of our imagination come to life. For engineers, there’s no limit to what can be envisioned and built.
Whether you’re interested in attending the best engineering school or one of the top online engineering programs, College Choice is here to help you find the right degree and program for your engineering interests. To begin, check out our Best Bachelor’s in Engineering or our Best Master’s in Engineering rankings. Alongside these rankings, we have lists for three other specialized fields as well: the Cheapest Master’s in Software Engineering, the Best Petroleum Engineering Programs, and the Cheapest Petroleum Engineering Programs. With one of these lists, we’d like to help you begin your engineering career. Whether you’re looking to go back to school to increase your professional marketability by completing a degree from a top online engineering school or pack up and attend one of the top engineering programs in the country, College Choice will help you find, get into, pay for, and thrive in college.
Women, Minorities, and Engineering Degrees
Completing a Bachelor of Science in Engineering is the beginning of a challenging and diverse vocation in a large field that covers designing, building, and maintaining systems and technology. With a field so vast, you’d think that there would be diversity of person as well as diversity of study, but that often isn’t the case. Women and people of color have been largely absent from the engineering workforce.
Historically, this field has been dominated by white males, but—since 1993—women and minorities have gained ground in a variety of engineering fields. While this is a sign of progress, there’s an even greater chance for women and minority participation in the STEM field of engineering. Organizations like the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering offer career guidance and support, scholarships, and partnerships to support minority students interested in this necessary field. Alongside professional organizations, sites like ours produce resources to help you navigate the complexities of the college world. If you’re a woman interested in engineering, it would be good for your to check out our College Resources for Women Students: The Ultimate Guide, which walk you through some scholarships, fields of study, and organizations that exist to help women thrive in academic and professional settings which have been traditionally dominated by males.
What Kind of Engineer Should I Be?
If you’re wanting to work in technology or industry-related fields, a Bachelor of Science in Engineering is a great place to begin. After completing a degree and getting a job, you may decide that you must complete a master’s degree to advance. With this, you’ll choose a specialization that fits your professional interests. We review many of these specializations in the next section of this article.
If you complete a bachelor’s in engineering and begin working for a company and prefer the systems end of engineering, then you may consider completing an M.B.A. in a field related to engineering, which will give you an edge in supply chain and quality engineering.
For nearly every engineering position, an advanced degree is a requirement for career progress. Without an advanced degree in engineering, it is very unlikely that you will be able to hold a high paying job. That said, a bachelor’s degree in engineering is nothing to shake a stick at, but most people who earn such a degree eventually go back to school for a specialized master’s degree in a particular area of engineering or an M.B.A. if they’d like to work in an engineering field related to business.
With so many areas of focus, the field of engineering can be an incredibly exciting field to explore. At College Choice, we’re interested in giving you concise and complete information about getting a degree and getting to work. Below, we’ve provided some information about a few of the most popular and lucrative areas of engineering.
Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
Average Salary: $107,830
If you’ve completed a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering, then you can reach for the sky in this profession where engineers specialize in designing and manufacturing technologies that travel through air and space, such as satellites, airplanes, aircraft, and missiles. Often working in collaboration with the federal government or private companies, experts in this field create objects that are designed to move effectively in the Earth’s atmosphere (aeronautics) and in outer space (astronautics). A complex and challenging field of study, aerospace is a growing field full of competent and satisfied engineers.
Average Salary: $111,730
Whether largely self-taught or holding a Master of Science in Computer Engineering, Information Technology, or Project Management, engineers in this field are responsible for developing the software, hardware, and user-friendly technologies that we take advantage of every day. Whether you’re managing a computer network, creating microelectronic programs and devices, or developing practical robotics for uses in a variety of professional fields, this area of engineering is cutting-edge and hands-on. If you’re interested in this field, check out our Cheapest Master’s in Software Engineering or our Best Online Master’s in Information Technology rankings.
Average Salary: $95,230
After completing a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering, workers in this field of engineering design and implement a wide range of technologies, components, and device systems for a variety of industrial purposes. From the most basic electronics we use every day—like ceiling fans and remote controls—to the complicated electrical systems that power our vehicles and homes—like electromagnetic turbines and nuclear power plants—electrical engineers are responsible for scientific developments in agriculture, research, manufacturing, and equipment design.
Average Salary: $83,590
Whether you’re interested in mechatronics, thermal systems, or integrated robotics, this field of engineering will require diverse experience, a powerful imaginative and technical mind, and multiple degrees, such as a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, for professional success. With expertise in diverse areas such as electronics, computer software, and mechanical systems (like robotics), these engineers combine their knowledge of physics, material science, analysis, design, and manufacturing to create systems of manufacturing and production that are safe and easy to operate.
Average Salary: $102,950
After completing a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering and a Master of Science in Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Nuclear or Environmental Engineering, scientists in this field of geotechnical engineering design, build, and manage the systems that harness the benefits of radiation and nuclear energy. Whether using radiation for medical treatment and diagnosis or directly working on operational maintenance of nuclear power plants to ensure they meet safety requirements, these engineers are work cooperatively on a variety of civil and medical projects.
Chemical & Biomedical Engineering
Average Salary: $86,220
Completing a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Engineering and Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering, then you can begin a career in one of the fastest-growing areas of scientific study, where individuals make equipment, software, devices, and computer systems that are used to improve healthcare. While some biomedical engineers complete Ph.D.s and go on to do research, many workers in this field provide technical support (design, creation, implementation, and repair) for artificial organs and replacement body parts, biomedical equipment, and other machine-based, medically integrated tools. With four areas of study to choose from—clinical, medical device, medical imaging, and tissue engineering—engineers in this field work to overcome the deterioration of the body through scientific breakthroughs.
Average Salary: $97,360
With an interdisciplinary approach to scientific work, individuals with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry or Engineering and a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering create products, devices, and technologies based on chemistry and chemical reactions. A form of practical chemistry, engineers in this field have developed many conveniences we use every day, like pharmaceuticals, food/beverages, household and industrial cleaners, electronics, cosmetics, and materials that make up our commonly used items in our homes. Moving from lab experimentation to practical implementation though market production, these engineers make our lives more convenient through chemistry.
Average Salary: $76,100
After completing multiple degrees and certifications—including a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Master of Science in Civil or Mechanical Engineering—engineers in this field are in charge of the integrity of structural and mechanical systems for buildings, like air conditioning, heating, ventilation, noise and acoustics, fire and safety prevention, and sustainability. With the school work for this profession typically taking eight years to complete, workers in this field report high levels of satisfaction as they plan, design, and construct buildings that people use every day.
Average Salary: $82, 220
After earning a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, and then a Master of Science in Civil Engineering or Project Management, or an M.B.A. with an engineering focus, you can begin working in this innovative and challenging field where engineers design and construct buildings, highways, waterways, dams, rail roads, and other large structures that are the cornerstones of industry and transportation. If this seems like a field of study that interests you, and you’d like to go the business route, take a look at our Best MBA Programs rankings and our Using Business School Rankings guide to help you make the best decision about your college future.
Average Salary: $83,470
Whether you’re interested in paper engineering, ergonomics, sustainability, waste management, emissions control, or another specialization from this very diverse area, completing a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering is the first step to entering this interesting field where science, mathematics, and systems come together. Industrial engineers work on improving quality and productivity in processes and systems that companies and organizations rely on every day to run efficiently like accounting, supply chains, logistics, quality, and facility management. From planning layouts of factories to operational logistics in banks, hospitals, and theme parks, these engineers focus on the best ways to manage systems to elicit high performance.
Average Salary: $75,090
With a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Master of Science in Agricultural Engineering or Environmental Engineering, you can begin a career in a field that works to design, construct, and improve farming, farm machinery, and automated systems relating to the agriculture industry. Aiming for efficiency and safety, engineers in this field often work alongside farmers and farm animals to develop technologies that perform new tasks that consumers take advantage of every day, from scientifically engineered soils that produce stronger plants, to more nutrient-rich edibles, to positive treatment of farm and domesticated animal science, to plant biology and behavior.
Average Salary: $84,560
A Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering are the best degrees to enter this field where engineers use their knowledge in biology, chemistry, geology, and ecosystems to solve practical issues that affect basic health and human rights. Whether creating systems and technologies that provide clean drinking water to underdeveloped countries, finding solutions to air pollution, or creating safe chemicals that will help farms grown more food without damaging the soil, environmental engineers are leading the way in sustainability and environmental care so that generations to come can live healthy and productive lives.
Average Salary: $129,990
These innovative engineers design and develop methods of extracting oil and gas safely from the deposits below the surface of the earth. After completing a Bachelor of Science in Engineering or Chemistry and a Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering, engineers in this field often work for oil and gas companies updating technologies and methodologies to meet safety standards and increase productivity of wells and extraction sites. If this area of engineering is of interest to you, take a look at our Best Petroleum Engineering Programs and our Cheapest Petroleum Engineering Programs rankings.
With a degree in engineering or a closely related field, you’ll be able to help shape and innovate industry, technology, and commerce. At College Choice, we exist to help you discover you’re the best college that’s right for you so that you can complete an engineering degree and get a good job. Our rankings and guides are your one-stop shop for learning about your options in order to you can find, get into, pay for, and thrive in college. Take a few minutes to peruse our helpful materials, and don’t forget to share them with your friends!