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.
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.
In the 21st century, every company utilizes technology and computers to help organize and execute their most important business decisions. But for this to happen, there have to be people who write the codes and programs that make these moments possible.
Software developers and software engineers help to develop specific apps and to develop underlying systems that run devices or control networks.
The highly-specialized and vital nature of this work has led to the development of an incredibly strong and lucrative job market for software developers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average software developer makes almost $50/hour, which equates to around $102,000/year.
And not only is the job financially lucrative, but because technology is ever expanding, the job market for this career is also expected to grow by 17% over the next decade (Much faster than average).
The technological element of this job also opens up the possibility of free-lance and remote working situations, for those looking for more independent career opportunities.
Did you drive a car today? Turn on a lightbulb? Heat your house? Take a shower? Use a Ziploc bag? Chances are, you’ve used petroleum or a petroleum product more than once today, and probably more than once in the last hour.
This is made possible by petroleum engineers, who assess where to drill for oil and natural gas, how to retrieve it, how to refine it, and how to deliver it to people all over the world. Petroleum engineers have changed the face of the globe, and made previously unimaginable luxuries available to millions.
Petroleum engineering is an interesting, challenging job. And it also pays well. According to the federal BLS, the median pay for a petroleum engineer is $128,230 per year.
Positions in the field are also growing faster than average according to the BLS. Especially as petroleum engineers figure out how to extract more oil and natural gas from old, previously obsolete wells, opportunities will continue to expand.
Nuclear Engineering is the field that helps to harness atomic power for electricity, using carefully calibrated combinations of radioactive material and water to produce cleaner, more reliable energy.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nuclear Engineers can expect to earn around $49/hour, which translates to an annual salary of more than $100,000.
Employers offer cooperative-education programs for workers to gain experience in field, before they enter one of the almost 17,000 job nationwide. Engineers work both in normal office settings, as well as on-site performing inspections within the nuclear power plants.
Because of the exciting possibilities of this important field, CollegeChoice has put together a list of the Best Nuclear Engineering Degrees in the country, which includes a diverse array of rigorous and respected programs.
Do you want to be involved in engineering the latest artificial organs and prosthetics? Looking for a degree that combines the coolest aspects of both science and technology? Pursuing a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering may be perfect for you! Biomedical engineers are true masters of science and design; they work diligently to solve the problems of the future.
From manufacturing, orthopedics and pharmaceuticals, to medical imaging and biosensors, there is no shortage of opportunities for those with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the biomedical engineering field will grow 27 percent in the next decade! Not to mention the annual median salary for biomedical engineers is $87,000. Not a bad chunk of change for those looking to change the world! Not only do these engineers make great money, they get to be creative and innovative as they work in universities, hospitals, labs, etc.
Chemical Engineers are complex problem-solvers who use core scientific knowledge (chemistry and biology) along with economics and math to solve real-world problems involving the use of chemicals in fuel, drugs, food, or a host of other places.
These professionals design the means and methods of manufacturers, as well as plan and test production methods.
There are more than 34,000 chemical engineers in the United States today. These workers split time between offices and laboratories, directing on-site operations and solving problems as they arise.
The dynamic and challenging nature of the job is why Chemical Engineers typically make around $50/hour, with an average annual salary of $98,000/year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Chemical engineers need to be well-trained before they enter this field, meaning that students need to be sure that the program they choose will be rigorous and effective. This is why CollegeChoice has compiled a list of The Best Chemical Engineering Degrees.
Interested in building roads, airports and more? Civil Engineers work hard, using complex mathematical principles to determine the feasibility of structural plans. Much more than builders, civil engineers conceive, design, build, supervise, operate, construct, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems in both the public and private sectors. These folks work on creating everything from tunnels and bridges, to airports and water supply systems. Civil engineers must also know how to think ahead and investigate potential underlying problems when working on structural projects.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a civil engineer is upwards of $83,000 per year. In fact, it’s one of the highest paying careers for college graduates. Of course, the more advanced training you have in the field, the higher earning potential you’ll have going forward. Luckily, the employment outlook is also very strong for civil engineers; in fact, employment is expected to grow 11% from now to 2026. This is because our roads, buildings, bridges, etc., are continuing to age over time.
Does electricity spark your interest? Have you always had a knack for science and technology? Electrical engineers design and develop electronic equipment; from intricate communications systems and GPS devices, to cell phones and radar systems. In today’s society where technology continues to become more and more advanced every day, it’s essential to have electrical engineers working to design, develop, test, and supervise electrical equipment manufacturing.
Looking to make a decent salary? This is certainly the career to do so! In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, electrical engineers make an average of over $95,000 a year! Not to mention that these job opportunities are projected to grow 7 percent from now to 2026. That’s a solid return on investment when it comes to degree options. The technological element of this job also widens the possibility of remote working options, for those looking for a more flexible career.
Are you obsessed with learning the inner workings of how things function? A degree in Mechanical Engineering can open doors to a range of fulfilling and interesting careers. From Aerospace and Automobiles to Biomedical and Construction, the potential jobs go on and on. To succeed in earning a degree in this field, you must have a knack for math and science– and a good head for figuring out the most puzzling of problems!
Looking for not only a fascinating career, but a lucrative one too? You’re in luck! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mechanical Engineers can expect to earn upwards of $84,000 per year. Not only that, but jobs in this field are expected to grow 9% from now to 2026. Job prospects will be best for those who continue to stay on top of the most recent advances in technology.
Interested in all things science-related? From biology and chemistry to physics and geology, environmental science students study a broad range of topics. If you’re particularly concerned about human interaction with nature and what can be done to best utilize our natural resources, this may be a great major for you. In fact, many environmental science graduates go on to become environmental education officers, water quality scientists, sustainability consultants, and more!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for an environmental scientist is upwards of $68,000 per year. Most specialists and scientists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect both the environment and human health. From working in the lab to gathering data in the field, this career can be quite exciting. Not to mention, the employment outlook is also very strong for environmental scientists; in fact, employment is expected to grow 11% from now to 2026.
Are you interested in creating a more sustainable world for folks to live in? If you’re always looking for innovative ways to reuse, recycle, and reduce your carbon footprint, a degree in sustainability may be perfect for you. You’ll learn not only about the environmental impact, but the social and economic impact of how we treat our planet. From corporate social responsibility to social innovation, you’ll have the power to create and enact real change, leading to a cleaner, more sustainable tomorrow.
According to PayScale, the average pay for a Sustainability Analyst is over $54,500 per year. The ability to make a positive impact in the world can be both a very rewarding and high stress job.
Interested in creating a healthier and more sustainable environment? Do you aim to rid this world of toxins and find new ways to empower folks to help save Mother Nature? Luckily, College Choice is here to help! We’ve ranked the Best Online Sustainability Degrees for you to take the stress out of searching for the perfect school. Likewise, if money is causing you the most stress than check out the Most Affordable Online Sustainability Degrees.
Interested in all things science and nature? Looking to help the world? From biology and chemistry to physics and geology, environmental management students study a broad range of topics. If you’re particularly concerned about human interaction with nature and what can be done to best utilize our natural resources, this may be a great major for you. In fact, many environmental management graduates go on to become environmental education officers, water quality scientists, sustainability consultants, and more!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for environmental scientists and specialists is nearly $70,000 per year. Most specialists and scientists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect both the environment and human health. From working in the lab to gathering data in the field, this career can be quite exciting. Plus, this field is expected to grow further in the coming years, leaving more openings for work.
Are you interested in becoming a fire safety specialist, manager, or consultant? Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of being a firefighter! Having a degree in Fire Science can give you an excellent advantage in this competitive field. If you pursue a Fire Science degree you’ll probably take courses like Fire Chemistry and Physics, Rescue Procedures, and Fire Codes and Laws. If you’re an advocate for fire safety and prevention, this may be the perfect career path for you.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fire Inspectors can earn up to $56,130 per year, while Firefighters can expect to earn just under $50,000 annually. If you decide to use your degree in Fire Science as a stepping stone for a job in Emergency Management, you can earn up to $70,500 per year. While a career in fire safety can be very rewarding, remember that disasters can strike at any time– you’ll have to give up weekends, holidays, etc. for safety’s sake.
A degree in engineering management is ideal for a professional engineer who is looking to move into a leadership position. Rather than earning an MBA, an MEM degree will provide you with both high-level technical training and business skills specific to engineering projects and organizations. You’ll have to have excellent problem-solving and communication skills as well as the ability to keep calm and organized under pressure.
While you will work long hours as an engineering manager, the pay is good. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average annual wage for an engineering manager is nearly $140,000. Your earning potential will depend on the organization you work for and the level of education you’ve completed. 24/7 Wall Street published a list of America’s 25 highest paying jobs and engineering managers came in second.
With the rise of technology in today’s era, now is an exciting time to study biotechnology. But, what is biotechnology, you may be wondering. Biotechnology fuses engineering and technology with the life sciences. You can have a hand in solving the world’s top cultural and scientific issues. In fact, 70 percent of all processed food items owe their very existence to the pursuits of biotechnologists! Whether you’re looking to become a bioinformatician, a biotechnical scientist, or something related, this may be the perfect degree for you.
According to PayScale, biotechnologists can make upwards of $82,000 annually. Senior research scientists in the field can even earn six figures. This industry is projected to grow in the coming years, so it’s a worthwhile degree to earn at this time. From hospitals and labs to food manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, there are a variety of industries that need biotechnologists on their teams. Other popular research areas include biofuels and biomedical research.
Ready to hit the lab and come up with the next great scientific solution? College Choice has published a ranking of the Best Biotechnology Degrees.
While you may have heard of mechanical, chemical, civil, and even electrical engineering degrees, industrial engineering is another lucrative degree worth pursuing. Industrial engineers differ from the rest in that they work to find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. You must have excellent problem-solving skills to succeed in this industry. This is also a great job if you’re looking for something other than a typical 9-5 office environment. You’ll be creating and building using technology, computer systems, and in some cases even robotics.
Not only is employment for industrial engineers projected to grow 10 percent within the next eight years, it’s also a job that pays quite well. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, industrial engineers earn an average of over $85,000 per year. With more and more industries looking to streamline systems and cut costs, industrial engineers are needed now more than ever.
Interested in health and science? Looking to help folks live longer? With the rise of technology and increased access to information, it’s now easier than ever before to research and create new products to help people live longer, healthier lives. If you’re interested in researching pharmaceuticals, biologics, and devices, a degree in clinical research may be perfect for you. Attention-to-detail is a must and a passion to help others is crucial as well. There’s so much that goes into products before they make it to market and, now, you can be a part of the exciting process!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians can make upwards of $51,000 per year. Of course, the more advanced degree and experience you have, the higher your earning potential will be. The city or town in which you work will also affect how much you make. Plus, the career you decide to pursue with your degree can make a great impact as well. Not all those with a Master’s in clinical research go on to do the same thing.
If you’re looking for an advanced degree that’s both flexible and affordable, College Choice has published a ranking of the Most Affordable Online Master’s in Clinical Research. From Arizona State University to Campbell University, you’ll be sure to find the best program for your goals!
It’s no question that the food we put into our bodies has a direct impact on our health. Do you want to work in direct client care, inspiring both physical and mental health trends? If you’re passionate about human health and disease prevention, a degree in nutritional sciences may be perfect for you. You’ll learn how certain nutrients and vitamins affect different bodily functions, as well as the art of medical writing. Whether you wish to work in a hospital, open your own private consulting business, or become a food technologist, there are plenty of avenues to pursue with this degree.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Dietitians and Nutritionists make nearly $60,000 annually. If you’re interested in obtaining a coveted leadership position in a health facility, an advanced degree in nutritional sciences can help you do just that. This, of course, will lead to a higher potential salary as well.
A degree in Aeronautics will allow you to fly high. If the science behind aviation is of particular interest to you, and if you are strong in mathematics and science, you might consider one of these valuable degrees. You will learn how to design and build airplanes, or research the science of flight. While all students will receive training in aviation, aeronautics, engineering, and defense industry design, the ultimate career options are virtually limitless.
With a degree in Aeronautics, you could work as an airline or commercial pilot, or as a flight engineer or aircraft technician. Professionals with Aeronautics degrees tend to earn high starting salaries. Depending on the career path chosen, many Aeronautics graduates, particularly those working in engineering or piloting, make well over $113,030 per year. Best yet, these careers are expected to grow about 6 percent by 2026, which is just about as fast as average. You can be sure to find the right program by looking at the Best Online Aeronautics/Aviation, the Most Affordable Online Aeronautics/Aviation, or the Best Master’s in Aeronautics/Aviation.