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Engineering is the art and science of using the laws of the natural world to solve human problems. Engineers do this through constructing buildings, parts, processes, and more. They do it by “engineering” solutions. Certain individuals are born with a mind that seeks to build things in the world around them. And others are trained so that they can help to produce solutions for problems they find interesting.
In this guide we’re going to assume that you have — at the very least — some urge to pursue engineering as a career or a degree. But that maybe you don’t quite know how to get started. Perhaps you need to discern whether engineering is an achievable major for you. Or perhaps you don’t know what type of engineer you should be. Maybe you want to find a premium school, or a premium online program to pursue engineering.
Whatever your rationale, we’ve got your covered in our guide to the most lucrative engineering jobs and the engineering majors that can prepare you.
What is a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering?
A Bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree awarded by colleges or universities after approximately four years of study. They can take less or more time to earn depending on student success and the semester load a student opts across the program they select.
To qualify for a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering, you’ll likely need a high school diploma, GED, or another equivalent credential. Depending on the program you choose to enter, you’ll need to meet a GPA threshold set out by the school, and a predetermined score on the SATs or ACTs. These standards can be mitigated by factors like recommendation letters, an essay you write about your experience, and intentions to succeed in these programs, extracurricular activities, among other conditions. However, it will be useful to consider what a school says its standards for admission are when applying.
Look at applying for a Bachelor’s in Engineering as an investment of time and effort you want a return on. While you can make up for substandard grades or standardized test scores in other ways, try to determine how likely it is that you can (depending on how far you are from what the school expects and what experienced advisers like guidance counselors and support staff at the schools tell you).
Accreditation is VERY important!
Make sure any Bachelor’s in Engineering program you’re considering is appropriately accredited. The best source of accreditation for these programs is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET ensures the program you’re considering has met the standards needed for a prospective engineer to gain licensure in the field. Many people working in engineering positions must be licensed, and a prerequisite for a license is graduating from an ABET-accredited program.
What specializations in Engineering are popular options?
In Bachelor’s degrees in Engineering, you’ll learn how to turn an idea into a functional object. It’s likely you’ll enter an area of specialization in the field like Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, or Industrial Engineering, among others. You could also end up in a more specific area like Fire Protection Engineering, Clean Technology Engineering, Instrumentation Engineering, among others. Let’s take a gander at some engineering specializations:
- Civil Engineering: In this specialization, you’ll study designing and developing infrastructure. You might work on topics like public transportation, city utilities — including water or electricity — or building a road or building, among other activities. Civil engineering is the first subsection in the engineering field. It traces its roots back to the initial attempts by humans to build shelters, transportation, along with irrigation or agricultural systems. Today, civil engineers work in many different industries, including aerospace, automotive, energy, construction, along with many others. In these degrees, you’ll complete courses in areas like environmental engineering, hydraulic engineering, land development, transportation engineering, geotechnical engineering, and much more.
- Computer Engineering: If you want to become a competent professional in computer science degree and electrical engineering, this is a sensational combo of those two dynamic, highly demanded fields. Computer engineers install computer systems in systems and machines, build networks that transfer data, and learn how to make computers faster, smaller, and more efficient. Today, computer engineering professionals make computers think and see, place them inside buildings, materials, clothing, and more. Computer engineers work on software and hardware. In computer engineering degree programs you’ll take courses in physical sciences, advanced mathematics, computer science, and more.
- Industrial Engineering: Industrial engineering is a collision between business and engineering. Here you’ll learn to manage people, processes, among other responsibilities. Industrial engineers build systems that improve productivity and enhance the quality of any work they’re contracted to engage with. Industrial engineers calculate the time, labor demands, technology, and effort needed to get projects finished effectively and on time. They do this while accounting for cost, environmental issues, and worker safety. Industrial engineers need to use mathematical formulas and models to guarantee safety and productivity. Engineering specializations are extremely diverse, and industrial engineering is no different. Industrial engineers can be found in virtually every industry, including foods, beverages, manufacturing, technology, finance, healthcare, shipping, entertainment, and much more. Common courses covered in these degree programs include industrial cost control, inventory control, robotics and automation, manufacturing processes, facility design, operations research, engineering economy, simulation, among many others.
Any of these degrees will prepare you to work in multiple positions in engineering and earn your FE (Functional Engineer certification). No matter what specialization you select, you’ll probably take courses in statistics, visual representation, modeling, computer design, and a wide array of design courses.
Will there be a fieldwork and internship requirement with an engineering degree?
These degree programs can often require fieldwork and internships that give aspiring engineers actual work experience. These practical experiences will help engineering students network and learn what jobs they’ll fill after graduating requirements. Those studying in America or Europe will probably graduate with either a Bachelor of Science Engineering (B.Sc.Eng.), Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.), Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.), Bachelor of Engineering Science (B.Eng.Sc.), or Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.) degree after finishing one of these programs.
Can I Be An Engineering Major Online?
In short, yes, there are engineering majors that can be taken online.
When you’re considering what kind of engineering degree to take, you should weigh all of the available options. There are engineering programs that are offered full-time and part-time. There are programs that are offered online, in-person, and in a hybrid of the two. Any of these options have advantages and disadvantages. For example:
- How quickly do you want to complete a program? If you’re going to earn a degree as fast as possible, you should opt for a full-time, accelerated program.
- How much time can you spend traveling back and forth to class?
- Are you going to live on campus? If you’re trying to cut back on travel time, taking courses online can save you a lot of it.
Will there be any in-person requirements majoring in engineering?
As previously mentioned, engineering programs often require an in-person component, whether that’s lab work, an internship, or field experiences. Because of this, even if a program is based online, make sure you understand what in-person requirements it will demand before committing. You can learn the parameters of any program by perusing school web pages discussing their engineering Bachelor’s degrees. To double-check, contact someone at the school directly (preferable someone from the engineering division) and ask specifically what you’ll need to do in person, and what you’ll be able to do online.
What are the benefits of an online engineering option?
Choosing to pursue an engineering major online has many benefits and a few drawbacks. In a traditional, on-campus program, you’ll either need to secure housing on campus or close enough to allow for you to travel back and forth between your home and classes. Because of these factors, an on-campus education can lead to higher costs, and longer travel times.
While taking an online engineering degree, you’ll be able to complete a lot of your coursework from the comfort of your home. Having that luxury means you can earn a degree from an institution far away from you, which might be preferable depending on your local options. The prestige and specializations offered across the country might surpass what you have on hand close to where you live.
Most importantly, choosing an online engineering degree can save you some high costs. From living expenses to travel time, an online degree will help you cut back on earning an education — something that can be prohibitively expensive. It’s not just money saved; it’s also what earning an online degree can allow you to do. In a full-time, on-campus engineering degree program, you might be unable to work, or at least find it far harder to meet part or full-time job expectations.
Taking an online engineering degree can also facilitate life responsibilities outside of work. If you have children, take care of parents, or other family or friends, an online engineering degree can be far more conducive to meeting those responsibilities. If you’re an active volunteer or have ongoing clubs or political obligations that you want to continue to meet, an online engineering degree can make all that far more accessible.
In online engineering degree programs, you’ll have far more utility and control over your educational schedule, both semester to semester, and overall before graduating. You can take asynchronous classes in which your participation and work are due at times that revolve around your schedule. You’ll have an easier time choosing a semester course load that you can meet. In traditional, full-time on-campus programs, you often need to take a certain number of courses to be considered a full-time student. These restrictions may be different in online degree programs, or non-existent.
Overall, online programs are designed to give you much more flexibility and control over your educational path as you complete an engineering degree (or a degree in any other discipline).
What are the drawbacks of an online engineering option?
Of course, there are some negative aspects of taking an online engineering degree. For one, you might be someone who benefits from in-person instruction, because you find it more engaging and more comfortable to focus on. In a traditional classroom, you’ll have an easier time discussing and questioning your professors and fellow students. Engineering often requires building tangible projects, sometimes individually and sometimes in groups.
Obviously, online programs find some workarounds for group work, whether it’s doing digital projects, or emphasizing individual labor. You might find access to cooperate on projects that traditional classrooms offer beneficial. You might also gain educational and career advantages from the networking opportunities that in-person tutelage facilitates.
Weighing what’s best for your education and career while enabling you to meet your ongoing responsibilities and commitments isn’t easy. However, having multiple degree options, especially those that were designed to give you maximal flexibility and control over your education, is a great start. Always inspect the options that you can qualify for. Talk to students and graduates of any program you’re interested in, and read online reviews of these programs whenever possible. You can find an online engineering degree that works for you, just know what you’re getting into, what tradeoffs exist, and what you’ll have to do in-person vs. what you can complete online.
What Types of Engineering Can I Major In?
Engineering is an incredibly vast field, with many areas of specialization students can opt for. We’ve already covered three of the most common areas engineering students can pursue, but there are many more. Let’s explore some of the other areas you can choose:
Security engineers handle the design and creation of systems that protect against and overcome disruptions no matter what they are. Common enemies their systems face include natural disasters, unauthorized criminal entry, or mechanical failures, among other issues. Security engineering involves computer security, cryptography, and more. It requires security engineers who are familiar with tools and practices for designing, installing, and monitoring complex systems.
Systems engineers must operate effectively in evolving dynamic environments. In security engineering degree programs, you’ll study courses like economics, applied psychology, laws that govern security, business processes and analyses, testing, evaluation, and software engineering, among other areas.
Biomedical engineering takes the tangible, problem-solving approach the field is known for and applies it to medicine and biology. Its practitioners work to use mathematical and mechanical designs to innovate and improve diagnosing and measuring illness. They create biomechanical solutions, design new forms of therapy, among other means to create superior health outcomes for individuals and larger populations.
Biomedical engineers bridge gaps between medicine and engineering with research and interdisciplinary approaches. They design and build prostheses, devices, drug imaging equipment, tissue growth techniques, and implants. Biomedical engineers create life-saving and improving methods and technology that irrevocably changes medicine. Their work tackles biomaterials, genetic engineering, rehab engineering, biomechanics, tissue engineering, and much more.
These two fields are related but have subtle differences. Electrical engineers deal with the production and proliferation of electrical power. In contrast, electronic engineers typically handle smaller electronic circuitry, like those used in computers. If you have a natural aptitude and interest in working with electrical devices and electrical infrastructure works, these are excellent options.
These fields rose to prominence in the late 19th century but have rapidly expanded in the last hundred years. Electrical engineers study and work in areas like signal processing, computer engineering, control systems, microelectronics, telecommunications, project management, power engineering, among other disciplines.
Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering
These engineers are the brainpower and contribute to the labor that allows vehicles to take flight. Aerospace engineers deal with vehicles that break the earth’s atmosphere, and aeronautical engineers handle anything flying in our atmosphere. In these specializations, you’ll study avionics, aerodynamics, and materials science.
If you’re taken by aviation or space travel, these are fascinating degree programs. You’ll become familiar with aircraft testing, vehicle design missile testing, and much more. Standard courses include structural dynamics, engineering acoustics, advanced flight mechanics, aviation law and economics, computer-aided aviation design, and much more.
Mechanical engineering is a prevalent engineering specialization both in practitioners and the popular imagination. In these degree programs, you’ll design and craft small parts, devices, and large automated systems. You can be called upon to take a product from conception to market. Mechanical engineers are found in any industry that needs machines to function. This includes aerospace, automotive, biotechnology, computers, environmental control, manufacturing, and more.
There are many smaller areas under the larger mechanical engineering umbrella that you can further specialize in. No matter what program you enter, you’ll likely study energy conversion, biomechanics vibrations, materials, calculus, among other topics. Graduates work in areas like aerospace engineering, advanced energy systems, aerospace engineering, solid-waste engineering, textile engineering, and more.
In these specializations, you’ll study the biological and chemical techniques and practices required to create productive substances and materials. You’ll transform contents, materials, and transport them as well. Chemical engineers are needed in the energy, oil, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, electronics, and environmental engineering industries.
In chemical engineering degree programs you’ll work in and study materials, heat, applied mathematics, energy transfer, thermodynamics, mass transfer, fluid mechanics, process design, separations technologies, chemical reaction kinetics, reactor design, and more.
…and many others!
There are many other forms of engineering you can pursue. You could become a nuclear engineer or work in engineering education, to name a couple of others.
Some engineering specializations are offered at the undergraduate level, and some are pursued in further degrees. It’s also possible that the engineering Bachelor’s you select will be a more generalized program, and you won’t choose a specialization until further in your career.
Many engineers get a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. So, if you don’t know precisely what area of engineering you’d like to go into as an undergraduate, that’s okay. You’ll have time to figure it out as you go along, or potentially specialize in one subarea of the field as an undergraduate and then a different one in your graduate education.
Now let’s look at the value of an engineering education, financially, personally, and employment-wise:
Is Engineering a Good Major?
Higher education in America has, and is continuing to become a requirement for many positions across the economy. Conversely, many of the degrees students opt for aren’t offering them an array of career opportunities, or job security after they graduate. There are many advantages to a liberal arts education, but increasingly high pay and consistent employment can’t necessarily be counted among the benefits they offer students.
Part of the problem with liberal arts degrees is they don’t offer students specialized skills prioritized across the economy that separate them from the millions of people holding similar credentials. Many college graduates are finding they’ve spent tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on educations that don’t guarantee them much when they enter the workforce.
There are still many fields that offer students an education and tangible experiences that prepare them for an array of careers. In specific domains, you can expect to gain extremely transferrable skills, and command power in our national and global economic structure.
Engineering is one of these fields. Competent, qualified, and accredited engineering graduates are highly demanded, have unique skills that separate them from the vast majority of workers, and are highly compensated for those skills.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has detailed information on engineering employment and pay – which we’ve tackled in detail in this guide – but let’s look at some basic facts about the field:
- In 2018, the median annual wage for all engineers was $91,010.
- In 2016 BLS found there were 1,681,000 engineers. They predicted there would be 140,000 new jobs added over the next decade.
Outside of these benefits to becoming an engineer, whether it’s an excellent major has a lot more to do with your individual interests and aptitudes. To that end, let’s look at some of the competencies and attributes you’ll need to be successful as an engineer:
- Exceptional Skills and Aptitude for Reasoning and Logic: Engineers must figure things out and solve new problems on the fly. Even when it’s an issue you’ve never encountered, you’ll use your abilities to handle it. This will involve examination, tinkering, play, and much more.
- A Natural Curiosity: Engineers have an intense, animating curiosity with them throughout their lives. They’re constantly looking at machines and systems to figure out where they work smoothly, and where they need improvement.
- Incredible Communication: Engineers have to convince others that their ideas, analyses, and designs work, and can solve problems. This includes peers, subordinates, and superiors. In doing so, they improve the chances that what they design can transfer from theory to physical reality. The people engineers work with don’t always share their background and vocabulary. To foster cooperation engineers need to get their ideas across to the layperson and explain difficult technical information to them.
- Powerful Observational Skills: Engineers have to pay attention to small details, and draw conclusions from them. They need a strong memory and the ability to organize their findings. Only through this organization and observation can engineers create and innovate. Speaking of which:
- Innovation and Creativity: Engineers take ideas and make them realities. This can include improving current structures, machines, and systems. It also includes creating all three from the ground up. You’ll need to have a strong inner drive to create and improve, and power through your failures.
- Strong Mathematical Skills: Engineering requires constant mathematical calculations. You’ll need strong math skills, and to improve them throughout your study and career.
These are just some of the requirements for success as an engineer. Think deeply about how many of these are natural to you, and which you’ll need to work to improve on. Engineering degree programs will undoubtedly help you practice and enhance these skills and abilities, but having some natural strengths in these areas will improve your odds of success. Engineering is not an easy field, and you should be honest, critical, and self-aware about your chances of thriving in one of these programs, and after graduating from one in your hypothetical engineering career.
Just because you don’t have complete confidence in all of these areas, that doesn’t mean you should write off engineering as an educational and career pathway altogether. Think about where your weaknesses are and try to improve on them before, throughout, and after entering an engineering program. If there are areas you think you can make gains in (and need to), tend to that. Your willingness to improve is essential as an engineer, and throughout any of your educational and career endeavors.
Engineering is a great major for people who can do the work, and more importantly, want to. It’s not the kind of field that you can thrive in without strong desire and tangible skills that will empower your success.
If you think you have what it takes, engineering won’t just be the right major for you, it will be an exceptional one.
THE 20 MOST LUCRATIVE ENGINEERING JOBS
If you can’t tell from the range of engineering degrees mentioned above, there are many, many fields you can focus on in engineering. Below we’ve taken a look at 20 of the most lucrative according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics or other industry-specific entities that track salaries.
1) Petroleum Engineer
Working as a Petroleum Engineer is a lucrative role; with active problem solving, crucial preventative maintenance, and work both in the field and in the office. The primary goal is to extract oil and natural gas from Earth’s surface, and these engineers design and maintain the equipment that does so. According to the BLS:
- 33,400 people worked as Petroleum Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $137,720 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is only 3%, or approximately 1,100 jobs. This is less than the average forecast across all industries.
Though the pay is high and sphere lucrative, long-term growth is not one of the selling points of the petroleum industry. As the global climate crisis looms, governments are seeking to encourage alternate forms of energy. While humans will still be using oil as a source of power for a while, the well will run dry at some point.
2) Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace Engineers work for organizations that design and build aircraft, national defense systems, and spaceflights, such as Boeing, SpaceX, and NASA. A strong background in sciences is a must, as well as computer programming. Most work happens in either offices or laboratories. Per the BLS, they state:
- 66,400 people worked as Aerospace Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $116,5000 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is just 3% or about 1,900 jobs. This is less than the average forecast across all industries.
One of the major goals in the future of aerospace engineering is cutting back on pollution. Not just fuel, but noise as well. Creating flying crafts that are quiet and incredibly fuel-efficient is the goal for the next generation of aerospace engineers.
3) Computer Hardware Engineers
Computers have never been more pervasive, and as they have multiplied they have become smaller, sleeker, and faster all thanks to Computer Hardware Engineers. These people design and test the physical parts of computers, like processors and circuit boards. The BLS reports:
- 71,100 people worked as Computer Hardware Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $117,220 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 2% or 1,100 openings. This is slower than the average growth for all occupations.
Traditionally, Computer Hardware Engineers worked with… computers. But in our technologically immersive society, computers are infiltrating nearly every possession as we get caught up in the “internet of things.” Going forward, Computer Hardware Engineers will have to get creative incorporating hard drives and memory capabilities in smart-showers, Bluetooth dishwashers, and washing machines that can be activated remotely.
4) Nuclear Engineer
Nuclear Engineers research applications of nuclear technology and most importantly, maintain the safety and functionality of current nuclear power plants/stockpiles. Most nuclear work is to generate electricity, but many roles require security clearance to work within the government. According to the BLS:
- 16,400 people worked as Nuclear Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $113,460 per year
- The predicted decline in employment from 2019-2029 is -13% or a loss of 2100 positions.
The two constant issues nuclear science has to prove to the world is that it is 1) safe and 2) can be disposed of. The current forecasting suggest that renewable energy sources have squeezed nuclear power out of the future, but that still leaves loads of active radiation and waste that needs to be safely managed.
5) Chemical Engineer
Chemical engineers have the broadest career options so far on this list. From food sciences to beauty products to pharmaceuticals, nearly all realms of production need chemical engineers as research scientists or quality control. Most work in laboratories, but some work in industrial production facilities. The BLS states:
- 32,600 people were employed as Chemical Engineers in 2019.
- Median pay: $108,770
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 4% or 1,400 new jobs. This is as fast as the average forecast for the economy.
Because Chemical Engineers can work in so many different industries, it is tough to point to a general trend across the board. A common task, however, is maintaining consistency in factory production and ensuring quality control.
6) Electronics and Electrical Engineer
Electrical Engineers work at designing, testing, and manufacturing all kinds of electrical equipment such as motors, radar and navigation systems, communications, power generation, and sound equipment. Additionally, there is a lot of overlap between Electrical Engineers and Computer Hardware Engineers. According to the BLS, they state:
- 328,100 people work as Electronics or Electrical Engineers
- Median pay: $101,250 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2018-28 is 3% or 10,800 new jobs. This is slower than the average forecast for the economy.
Though Electrical Engineers work in professional, scientific, and technical services, their primary roles are in manufacturing and telecommunications. Those two industries are expected to face a decline in the next decade, this type of engineering is similarly projected to lessen.
Marine Engineers/Naval Architects are responsible for all aspects of shipbuilding, from submarines to sailboats to aircraft carriers. This includes internal matters like propulsion, electrical, refrigeration, and steering systems as well as external designs like the form, structure, and stability of the ship’s hull. They can also work on offshore rigs and wind turbines. Per the BLS:
- 11,800 people worked as Marine Engineers/Naval Architects in 2019
- Median pay: $92,400 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 1% or 200 new jobs. This is slower than the projected average economic growth.
The increased importance of energy efficiency in a world that will continually be linked by international trade makes Marine Engineering a vital part of humanity’s future. Older cargo vessels need to be modernized to new emissions regulations, new ships need to be designed and built, and offshore energy development such as wind turbines make this role a wise one to pursue.
8) Materials Engineer
Materials Engineers either work in an office with computers and design equipment, in factories, or in research laboratories. They test the properties and structures of metals, ceramics, plastics, etc. to improve mechanical, electrical, and chemical processes. Would you like some BLS facts? Take a look!
- 27,500 people worked as Materials Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $93,360 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 2% or 400 new jobs. This is slower than the projected average economic growth.
While there are many new applications for these technologies in research and medical sciences, the projections are limited for Material Engineers since most work in manufacturing and production. Those realms are expected to decline in the next decade, which is why this role is expected to stay the same.
9) Mining and Geological Engineer
Mining and Geological Engineers often work in the field, supervising and maintaining the safety and efficiency of various mining procedures such as mineral mines, strip mines, or oil extraction. Additionally, they can work in offices doing design and planning. What does the BLS say about it? Check this out:
- 6,300 people worked as Mining and Geological Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $91,160
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 4% or 300 more jobs. This is as fast as the average growth predicted over that timespan.
The mild growth of mining is related to the projected decrease in manufacturing and the rising threat of climate change due to emissions. Decreased dependence on fossil fuels and more regulations on types of minings act as a damper on the further limited expansion of this role.
10) Health and Safety Engineer
Health and Safety Engineers use their knowledge of engineering to design systems that help protect people from illness and injury and safeguard the property from damage. Many work in manufacturing, but also in the construction and government sectors. The BLS states:
- 26,400 people worked as Health and Safety Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $91,410
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 4% or 1,000 new jobs. This is on pace with the projected economic expansion for the time period.
Things like fire prevention, product compliance, and systems safety are hugely important, and will remain a priority going forwards. Though manufacturing is expected to take a dip, growth in construction and other industries that use Health and Safety Engineers are believed to more than compensate.
11) Biomedical Engineer
Biomedical Engineers create and use medical equipment such as artificial internal organs, prosthetics, and machines for improving diagnoses. They can work closely with doctors in hospitals or in laboratories doing research with academics. These are the BLS statistics:
- 21,200 people worked as Biomedical Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $91,410 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 5% or about 1,000 new jobs. This is essentially faster than average growth for all occupations.
This realm has nearly as many specialties as medicine itself, such as systems physiology, bioinstrumentation, and clinical engineering. It takes a blend of engineering skills, incorporating both electronics and biology.
12) Environmental Engineer
Environmental Engineers use engineering principles to work with biology, chemistry, and soil science in order to develop sustainable solutions to environmental problems. They work in waste management, nature protection, water and air safety, and direct hazardous sites. According to the BLS:
- 55,800 people worked as Environmental Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $88,860 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 3% or nearly 1,700 new jobs. This is on pace with anticipated average economic expansion.
Environmental Engineers occupy a vital space in our society, working with fundamental aspects that will maintain importance over the next decade. Most are directly employed as engineers, with consulting and government being the next most common sectors.
13) Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineers work in the broadest field of engineering. They design and operate machines that produce energy, such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, as well as steam and gas turbines. They also build and operate power-consuming machines like heating and cooling systems, elevators, and escalators. What does the BLS report? Take a look!
- 316,300 people worked as Mechanical Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $88,430 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 4%, or about 12,400 added roles. This is as fast as average with the expected growth of the overall economy.
One of the biggest fields for Mechanical Engineers is in the design and creation of automobiles. Suspension, aerodynamics, safety, fuel efficiency, and emissions are all aspects of cars that Mechanical Engineers are crucial to.
14) Industrial Engineer
Industrial Engineers mostly work in an office, except when observing the settings they are intending to improve. Their goal is to improve the efficiency of systems that involve multiple variables, like workers, machines, materials, information, and energy, integrating each component for maximization. The BLS reports these exciting stats:
- 295,800 people worked as Industrial Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $88,020 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 10% or approximately 30,000 added jobs. This is faster than anticipated average job expansion.
There is tremendous growth expected for Industrial Engineers on account of how flexible the principles of industrial engineering are. Manufacturing, consulting, research and development, wholesale, and many other sectors would all love to be more efficient and maximize their output.
15) Civil Engineer
Civil Engineers are vital to the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. They split time between office work and in the field supervising and ensuring the safety of construction. According to the BLS:
- 329,200 people worked as Civil Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $87,060 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 2%, around 5,500 new jobs. This is slower than average with the anticipated growth in the economy.
Within the US, much of the WWII era infrastructure is in need of serious repair or replacement. This fuels the consistent growth in Civil Engineering opportunities over the net decade. Whether bridges, roads, or pipes, the next decade requires serious investment in public works.
Architects are essentially design engineers for structures, such as office buildings, residences, and factories. For most engineering roles all that is needed is a bachelor’s degree, but to become an architect a prospect must also pass the Architect Registration Examination. Per the BLS, they state:
- 129,900 people worked as Architects in 2019
- Median pay: $80,750 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 1% or 1,100 more Architect jobs. This is slower than the average expected growth rate of the economy.
The major shift arriving in architecture is an emphasis on “green architecture.” Designing buildings that minimize waste, keep heating and cooling as efficient, and are environmentally friendly is going to be an increasing priority.
17) Agricultural Engineer
Agricultural Engineers work primarily in farming, forestry, and food processing. They try to improve crop output and preservation by designing equipment, systems, and structures, as well as modify environmental factors such as airflow or runoff. The BLS reports the following:
- 1,700 people worked as Agricultural Engineers in 2019
- Median pay: $80,720 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 2%: however, new job positions are not expected, creating a slower than the average job growth rate, if any, compared to other occupations.
Irrigation, storage, and worker safety are primary concerns for Agricultural Engineers. This is not a particularly specialized industry, however, so there may be competition from civil or mechanical engineers.
18) Landscape Architect
Despite primarily working in offices, Landscape Architects design public spaces like parks and plazas. In addition to a college degree, all US states require Landscape Architects to pass the Landscape Architect Registration Examination. See what the BLS has to say:
- 24,500 people worked as Landscape Architects in 2019
- Median pay: $69,360 per year
- The predicted decline in employment from 2019-2029 is -2%, or -600 fewer jobs, creating a minimal job growth expectancy if any.
There is a large need to develop new public spaces as well as redevelop old ones. Public spaces are not necessarily parks but include commercial, industrial, and residential developments. Aspects such as “green roofs,” covering rooftops in vegetation to limit air and water pollution would fall under the purview of a Landscape Architect.
19) Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technician
The primary responsibility of an Aerospace Engineering/Operations Technician is to design, build, and test the parts of air and space crafts. Most work occurs in industrial settings, as Technicians stress test parts and ensure quality control for all products. The BLS states:
- 66,400 people worked as Aerospace Engineering/Operations Technicians in 2019
- Median pay: $116,500 per year
- The predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 3% or 1,900 more jobs. This is on par with projected economic growth in that timespan.
Many of these roles are in national defense and would require a security clearance. Others are in air travel, with the increasing emphasis on fuel efficiency, decreasing emissions, and tamping down on noise pollution.
20) Cartographers and Photogrammetrists
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists collect and interpret geographic data in order to create and update maps. These are crucial for zoning and planning, as well as the multitude of apps that utilize maps. Per the BLS:
- 12,000 people worked as Cartographers or Photogrammetrists in 2019
- Median pay: $65,470 per year
- This predicted rise in employment from 2019-2029 is 4% or 500 new roles. This is as fast as the average for the anticipated average economic growth.
As rising water levels modify shorelines and fires reshape California’s terrain, it is vital to create new maps that accurately reflect the changing conditions. The software Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is the most common tool used in the industry.