Interested in Engineering? Check Out the Highest-Paying Engineering Jobs

Kelly Hernandez
Two engineers working with machinery.
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The engineering industry is expansive and includes many fields, such as data, aerospace, electrical, medical, and environmental. If you’re interested in an engineering job, you may wonder which engineers make the most money. In this article, we’ll provide you with insight on the highest-paying engineering jobs in the industry, as well as tips to help you determine which engineering field is right for you.

What Types of Engineers Get Paid the Most?

Based on 2018 median pay data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we’ve compiled a list of the highest-paying jobs in the engineering industry. Many of these industries only require job candidates to have a bachelor’s degree. However, keep in mind that some may also require further education or experience to achieve the highest earning- potential.

Petroleum Engineer – $137,170

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in engineering, preferably in petroleum engineering.
  • Number of Jobs: 33,500.
  • Job Outlook: Growing at 3%, which is slower than average.

Petroleum engineers are responsible for designing and developing methods for extracting gas and oil from the Earth’s surface. Once gas or oil is discovered, a petroleum engineer must design the most efficient way to drill for it and pull it to the surface.

This career is lucrative because the oil and gas industry is important to the economy and new ways to efficiently retrieve these substances are constantly being analyzed. Besides educational costs, there are no additional fees associated with this job. However, it may require frequent travel to drilling sites.

Aerospace Engineer – $115,220

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or an engineering or science field that’s related to aerospace systems. If working on national defense projects, security clearance is required.
  • Number of Jobs: 67,200.
  • Job Outlook: Growing at 2%, which is slower than average.

An aerospace engineer designs missiles, spacecraft, satellites, and aircraft. As an aerospace engineer, you may be responsible for designing, manufacturing, and testing all subsystems associated with an air or spacecraft project. With extremely developed technological, math, and science skills, an aerospace engineer earns this high salary by applying his or her knowledge to create successful designs. Besides the cost of education, there are no additional expenses associated with becoming an aerospace engineer.

Computer Hardware Engineer – $114,600

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: Accredited bachelor’s degree.
  • Number of Jobs: 64,400.
  • Job Outlook: Growing at 6%, which is about average.

Computer hardware engineers are responsible for creating the physical components that make computers run and redesigning hardware systems. Additionally, these engineers are tasked with testing these components and redesigning them as necessary. Since computer hardware engineers work in the ever-growing technology industry, their careers are lucrative, especially if they land jobs with renowned technology companies.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree, a computer hardware engineer may need to earn certifications in order to prove mastery of hardware configurations or coding programs. Continuing education on advancements in the computer sciences field may also be required.

Nuclear Engineer – $107,600

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering is required and employers may require experience through a cooperative-education engineering program.
  • Number of Jobs: 17,700.
  • Job Outlook: Showing little to no growth at -1%.

A nuclear engineer develops nuclear equipment to harness the energy developed by nuclear reactions. These engineers usually work to develop electric power generation capabilities for equipment manufacturing facilities, hospitals, or clinics. They may also work in labs, with the military, or with government personnel contractors.

A nuclear engineer is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of plant workers and the general public. Proper design and testing are crucial, which is why this job can be lucrative for experienced professionals.

In addition to educational expenses, a nuclear engineer may be required to pay for the completion of a cooperative-education engineering program. An engineer may also need to be familiar with computerized control equipment and computer simulations, which may require additional schooling or certifications.

Chemical Engineer – $104,910

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a related field, as well as experience through an internship or cooperative engineering program.
  • Number of Jobs: 33,900.
  • Job Outlook: Growing at 6%, which is about average.

A chemical engineer designs and develops chemical processes, systems, and equipment to optimize efficiency and safety in a plant or industry. These systems or equipment are used in chemical, environment, industrial, and biological processes in labs or processing plants. Essentially, a chemical engineer is a quality control expert who ensures the manufacturer is implementing safe and effective production processes.

This career is lucrative because the chemical engineer is responsible for the safety of employees and consumers, as well as product quality and efficiency. In addition to education and internships, to become a chemical engineer in a specific industry, you may be required to earn a certification in the field before you qualify for a job.

Electrical Engineer – $99,070

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree and experience, such as an internship or completion of a cooperative engineering program.
  • Number of Jobs: 330,300.
  • Job Outlook: Growing at 2%, which is slower than average.

An electrical engineer designs, develops, and tests new electrical equipment and systems. Electrical engineers may design new household appliances, electrical power stations, or satellite communications systems. These engineers must use their skills and talent for math and physics to work with cell phones, computers, robots, or navigation systems.

Since electrical engineers are required to have education, experience, and a talent for designing new equipment and systems, this career is high-paying with many opportunities in different companies. While there are no additional requirements besides a bachelor’s degree and experience, an electrical engineer may be required to learn certain computer or coding programs before being hired.

Materials Engineer – $92,390

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions and a master’s degree for advanced opportunities, as well as experience through internships or cooperative engineering programs.
  • Number of Jobs: 27,700.
  • Job Outlook: No growth at 0%.

Materials engineers develop new uses for materials, such as metals, plastics, or ceramics. They may also combine these materials to make new composite material for use in systems. These engineers are tasked with designing, creating, testing, troubleshooting, and monitoring the performance of materials.

Since materials engineers are required to come up with their own ideas and develop ways to create these materials, they are invaluable to their employers. In certain materials engineering fields, accreditations or licensing may be required in addition to mandatory education and experience.

Mining and Geological Engineer – $92,250

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering program.
  • Number of Jobs: 5,900.
  • Job Outlook: Growth at 3%, which is slower than average.

Geological engineers design mines to remove minerals, such as coal or metals, so they can be used in manufacturing or utilities. These designs must be safe, efficient, and address the problem of transporting these minerals to processing plants.

This profession is lucrative because mining and geological engineers are often required to work in remote locations and dangerous environments, such as mine-shafts. While most entry-level positions only require a bachelor’s degree in engineering, a master’s degree and other certifications may be required for more advanced positions in the field.

Health and Safety Engineer – $89,130

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in environmental health and safety or engineering, as well as experience through an internship or cooperative engineering program.
  • Number of Jobs: 5,900.
  • Job Outlook: Growth at 3%, which is slower than average.

Health and safety engineers design and implement the systems that protect human health and the environment. With a passion for science and design, these engineers are responsible for ensuring workplaces and public places are safe for visitors and workers. In addition to identifying potential safety problems, health and safety engineers must develop solutions to fix these problems and follow up to ensure they’ve been implemented correctly.

Since health and safety engineers must keep abreast of the latest health and safety standards and continually solve problems to protect the public, the compensation is often high for these positions. While only a bachelor’s degree is required for an entry-level position, a master’s or doctorate degree may be preferred for senior positions.

Biomedical Engineer – $88,550

  • Entry-Level Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, bioengineering, or another engineering field.
  • Number of Jobs: 19,800.
  • Job Outlook: Growth at 4%, which is about average.

Biomedical engineers focus on advancing and improving human health by designing and developing medical devices, prosthetic limbs, medical imaging, and other equipment. These engineers are focused on innovation and development and are tasked with testing their designs and proving how they can be implemented to help people.

This career offers a high salary because it requires you to understand computer systems, materials, biology, science, and math to create unique solutions to better human health. A bachelor’s degree is required for an entry-level position in this field, but you may also need additional education in the medical field or a graduate degree for certain positions.

Which Engineering Field Is Right for You?

Salary shouldn’t be the only consideration when you’re choosing between top engineering jobs. It’s important to investigate each field of engineering before you decide your career path. Use these three approaches to learn more about each field and find the one that’s right for you.

Evaluate Your Own Skills and Interests

Consider what you know, where you excel, what you like to do, and where you think you can add value. If any of your current skills and interests align with an engineering field, you may want to investigate the jobs available in that field. Entering a field that interests you makes it more likely that you’ll find a fulfilling career you love.

Get Practical Experience Through Internships

Not only can an internship allow you to learn more about a specific engineering field, it can also give you a foot in the door, experience in the field, and potential references. To secure an internship, be sure to:

  • Get experience in the field at school.
  • Create a resume and cover letter.
  • Attend networking events.
  • Prepare for your interview.
  • Brand yourself as a professional through social media.

Seek Advice From Mentors

You can get insider information on daily tasks and required qualifications from mentors who are already working in the engineering field you’re interested in. If you already have contacts in the engineering industry, ask if their companies offer mentoring programs. You can also check with local professional engineering societies to see if there are mentors available.

Spending time with a mentor allows you to network within the field and better understand the job itself. By using your mentor as a resource, you can figure out which engineering field is best for you and which career you want to pursue.

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