What Do Engineers Do?

A Master's Degree in Engineering is the step that students take when they wish to become senior engineers in their field.

Updated February 22, 2023 · 2 Min Read

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What Do Engineers Do?

Engineers solve real-world problems by using science and math to turn scientific discoveries into commercial applications.

They do this in any number of specialized fields. Nuclear engineers guard and maintain nuclear power plants. Petroleum engineers help us extract oil or natural gas from the ground.

Chemical engineers ensure that the foods and products we buy in the store are safely produced. And software engineers help write code and programs that make computers and the whole tech-based world buzz.

On any given day, engineers might look at how much a robot would cost to make or how much waste a nuclear power plant is going to produce. This means that they’re not only solving the problems of today, but also looking ahead to what might happen in the future!

But no matter what field they're in, every engineer needs a sharp mind and strong creative problem solving skills, so that they can turn their classroom knowledge into technologies for the real-world.

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How Much Money Can You Make If You Study Engineering?

Engineering as a whole is a highly reliable and often lucrative career path, but the job markets do vary between engineering specialties.

For one specialty, civil engineering, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 24,000 new jobs by 2024. This means that the field is project to grow by around 8%, or right at the national average.

The median salary in 2016 was $83,540. It is possible to enter the field with a Bachelor’s degree, though many professionals find financial and professional benefits in pursuing a graduate degree.

For civil engineers, some of the best opportunities for employment can be found in Washington, Alaska, and Montana, which have the most job openings per 1,000 residents. And when it comes to pay Alaska, California, and the District of Columbia all offer median salaries of around $100,000.When one adjusts for cost-of-living, Tennessee, Texas, and Louisiana offer the best ratios of cost-of-living to median salaries for civil engineers.

What Kinds of Engineering Degrees Are Available?

An Associate’s Degree In Engineering is a two-year degree designed to allow students to quickly enter the field of engineering. Students will choose a specialty to focus on, such as mechanical engineering, which can lead to a job as a technician in their chosen field.

Courses will provide a basic introduction to the engineering sub-field. Mechanical Engineering Technicians earn around $54,000 per year.

At the undergraduate level, student can pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering. Students will choose an engineering sub-field to pursue, such as chemical engineering.

Coursework will cover both general knowledge and engineering specific information, with a focus on the student’s specialty. Students who successfully complete a bachelors program can they become a full-time engineer in their field of work. As a point of reference, Chemical Engineers make an average of $98,340.

Students looking to continue their education in engineering might consider a Graduate Certificate in Engineering, which further develops the skills and knowledge of an engineer’s chosen sub-field. These certificates are mostly intended to increase skills and to raise an engineer’s worth at their current or next company.

A Master’s Degree in Engineering is the step that students take when they wish to become senior engineers in their field. Courses taken will be more in-depth and specialized than some of the undergraduate coursework.

Specific numbers vary by company and sub-field, but a Master’s degree will generally increase a person’s salary and likelihood for advancement in a company.

A Doctorate of Engineering (PhD) is also available for those looking to pursue more of an academic rather than professional track for engineering. Programs will focus on academic research and methodology. PhDs can lead to undergraduate or graduate teaching jobs, or to senior engineering positions similar to the Master’s degree.

What Engineering Specialties Are Available?

There are a host of engineering specialties that students can choose from, some of the most popular of which include Aerospace Engineering.

Aerospace engineers help to design, test, and supervise the creation of aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. Jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree, with programs focusing on aerodynamics and aerospace structures. The median salary for an Aerospace Engineer is around $109,000

Petroleum Engineering centers around creating methods for extracting oil and gas deposits from below the earth. Petroleum engineering programs will focus on fundamental mathematics, as well as geology and engineering.

Petroleum engineers need at least a Bachelor’s degree, and earn a median salary of around $128,000. Employees tend to move around a lot, as they travel to each potential deposit location.

Another great option is nuclear engineering, which centers around the research and development of the processes, instruments, and systems used to harness the power of nuclear energy and radiation. Nuclear engineering programs will emphasizes studying nuclear reactions and radiation, radiological and biophysics, and fusion power engineering. Engineers must have at least a bachelor’s degree, and the average nuclear engineer earns around $102,000.

So are you ready to get your degree in engineering? We’ve ranked the Best Engineering Degrees, the Best Online Engineering Degrees, and the Most Affordable Online Engineering Degrees.

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