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Best Jobs for Engineers – The Top 10 by Degree Level & Salary

best jobs for engineers

Today, let’s look at some of the best jobs for engineers overall. We’ll also break down their salaries, education requirements, and projected job growth rates. Engineering majors don’t become just “engineers.” They often acquire specific job titles such as civil engineer, environmental engineer, electrical engineer, etc. This can make it challenging to know what career you should prioritize or what degree you should earn.

What is Engineering?

Engineers literally build a future for the rest of us. As a vital field across industries, engineering attracts some of the smartest minds of each generation. Engineers work in both the private sector and in government organizations. These skilled individuals create many of the tools, places, and machines we use every day.

Engineers are essential for designing and building the following:

  • Structures, ranging from houses to skyscrapers
  • Tools, including simple tools and advanced machines for very complex work
  • Systems of devices or machines which frequently work together to create big projects or complicated items

In short, engineering is necessary for the economy and our modern world. Specialized engineers work in practically every industry. For example, aerospace engineers, biomedical engineers, civil engineers, and architectural engineers have their niches.

Engineers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in the field to work in this industry. More often, successful engineers earn graduate degrees in engineering or related subjects. Regardless, most engineers enjoy excellent career prospects. Because engineering is so important, many engineers earn high salaries and have good job stability.

How to Land One of the Best Jobs for Engineers

Becoming an engineer means spending time at school and graduating from an accredited university. Specifically, students must:
First, earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering or an engineering-related field. This degree has to come from an ABET-accredited university, ensuring that the program is rigorous and thorough enough for the industry.

The next step involves establishing licensure to operate as an engineer. The license comes from passing the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering exam. The exam is multiple-choice with written portions.

At this stage, many professionals enter the engineering industry as junior engineers or assistants. However, to become full-on engineers and to design or develop projects, students must:

  1. Earn a master’s degree in a subdiscipline of engineering. Subdisciplines include civil engineering, aeronautical engineering, biomedical engineering, etc. Thus, a graduate degree program is an opportunity for future engineers to narrow their interests and decide what industry to pursue.
  2. Get practical experience in the engineering field. For example, working as a junior engineer or engineering assistant for several years is common for most engineers. They learn more about how engineering works in the real world. They can work up to chief engineers by switching companies or earning promotions.
  3. Earn a PE or professional engineering license in an engineering subdiscipline. This subdiscipline is usually the same as one’s graduate program.
  4. Get additional professional certification. It isn’t always necessary, but it may be important for improving your resume. For example, only the best engineers get to work for Lockheed Martin. Thus, some aeronautical engineers may earn extra certificates to make themselves stand out from other job candidates for this employer.

All in all, it takes many years to become an engineer of any type. However, all engineers earn excellent salaries and have good career prospects.

Essential Skills for the Best Jobs for Engineers

To succeed in the engineering industry, engineers of any sub-discipline must have several essential skills. Many engineering programs cultivate these skills, including:

  • Strong spatial awareness skills. Engineers need to know how objects fit in or interact with one another in three dimensions. This is vital for designing new engineering products and for assessing engineering products for flaws.
  • Attention to detail. In complex engineering projects, even a single flaw could lead to a disaster. The best engineers have extreme attention to detail since lives could be on the line.
  • Good communication skills. Engineers often lead teams of professionals to solve problems or develop machines and tools. They need to be able to work through interpersonal issues and communicate their ideas to others. They may also need to communicate complex ideas to executives or laypeople.
  • Project management and organizational skills. Modern engineering projects have many moving pieces and can take years or even decades. Thus, engineers need to know how to organize their plans and keep track of many different elements or parts.

Fortunately, the best engineering schools include top-tier engineering programs that teach these skills. Engineering programs often include courses on topics such as:

  • Mathematics
  • Spatial design and engineering principles
  • Safety codes and principles
  • Personnel management
  • Geometry and trigonometry
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • And more

Depending on the subdiscipline chosen, one’s graduate-level program will have more specialized courses in their class materials. For instance, aerospace engineering programs include extra coursework on designing and maintaining aircraft or aerial machines.

Best Jobs for Engineers or Engineering Majors

There are dozens of engineering jobs available, so it’s tough for engineering majors to know where to focus their attention. GetEducated compiled a list of the ten best jobs for engineers and engineering majors overall. We did this by looking at three major factors.

The first was salary. We looked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics—an official, government-run site, to get accurate salary information. Salary averages reflect the mean income of professionals in these fields or positions, not the minimum or maximum salaries.

Next, we broke down the expected job growth for each position with the Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It predicts job growth until 2030, as the BLS gathers data based on decade-long timespans.

Lastly, we noted the level of education required for every career. This way, engineering students can determine what level of degree they need to get the job of their dreams.

Petroleum Engineer

Average salary: $130,850
Job growth: 7%
Education: Bachelor’s

Petroleum engineers receive very high salaries because of their industry. They design the vital equipment that safely extracts oil from deep reservoirs hidden beneath layers of rock. Depending on their focus, they may also help mining companies reach gas deposits in addition to oil deposits.

In any case, petroleum engineers help companies extract the oil used in combustion engines. They design oil rigs, safety equipment, and sensor equipment for their employers. At the moment, many petroleum engineers work for companies based in or around Texas. That’s because most native oil in the US comes from this state.

Petroleum engineers are also responsible for minimizing environmental problems due to oil harvesting and mining. Thus, it’s likely that their positions will remain in demand for decades to come. Even as green or eco-friendly energy takes center stage, petroleum will still be necessary for many industries. For example, airplanes will likely need petrol fuel to fly for decades to come, even with advances in alternative energy.

Many petroleum engineers earn very high salaries as they gain seniority or experience. Most make well over six figures in entry-level positions.

Aeronautical Engineer

Average salary: $122,270
Job growth: 8%
Education: Bachelor’s

Aeronautical engineers are highly skilled, well-paid engineering professionals. They operate, maintain, and repair equipment to produce or sustain aircraft and spacecraft. Due to the specific nature of this occupation, aeronautical engineers often work for big corporate or federal organizations. These organizations include Lockheed-Martin and NASA.

Aerospace engineers design and build the highly advanced vehicles we use to fly or perform satellite operations. Depending on their job responsibilities and experience, they may have the following duties:

  • Test aircraft, aircraft materials, or tools
  • Ensure that aircraft tests go smoothly
  • Repair aircraft or aerospace equipment to ensure it does not falter during a mission
  • Build and maintain aircraft and spacecraft
  • Maintain aircraft test facilities
  • Present findings of tests to executives or others
  • Run computer simulations
  • Install instruments in aircraft and spacecraft

Put another way, aerospace engineering suits engineering majors who love aircraft and spacecraft. These positions allow engineers to build these impressive vehicles and make sure they run perfectly when in use.

Electrical Engineer

Average salary: $101,780
Job growth: 7%
Education: Bachelor’s

Electrical engineers are specialists who work in the private and government sectors and many industries. In a nutshell, they design, develop, and build electrical systems or electronic components. These include radars, navigation systems, electric motors, and much more.

Electrical engineers may also monitor or maintain electrical grids for cities or companies, depending on their job responsibilities. For example, suppose an entire powerplant goes down. In that case, an electrical engineer needs to analyze the problem and start a repair.

Many electrical engineers oversee teams of contractors or engineering assistants. Thus, they need good communication and leadership skills in addition to good technical and development skills. Electrical engineers are also heavily employed in the broadcasting and communications industries. For example, they often help install powerline networks or ensure that telecommunications equipment reaches as many people as possible.

As electronic interconnectedness increases, electrical engineering positions will increase in importance. This position should stay stable or see tremendous growth over the next ten years. Thus, it may be a good choice for engineering majors who want a steady career option for years to come.

Environmental Engineer

Average salary: $96,820
Job growth: 4%
Education: Bachelor’s

Environmental engineers work hard to solve problems related to developing and protecting our natural environment and resources. Specifically, they research and enact different methods to protect environmental resources or plots of land. To accomplish this, they combine certain engineering principles with environmental protection principles, such as:

  • Environmental biology
  • Ecosystem development
  • Chemistry
  • Soil science
  • Ecology

As they combine these principles, they provide meaningful solutions for many environmental issues. Environmental engineers work for nonprofit organizations and the government to address pollution, ecological remediation, ozone depletion, and oil spill hazards.

Because their work is critical, most environmental engineers require permits for their designs. Once approved, their projects can lead to massive improvements for wide stretches of land or local communities. Thus, environmental engineers have additional satisfaction knowing that their work does a lot of tangible good for the planet.

In addition, environmental engineers earn excellent salaries, and their job outlook could improve beyond what it currently is. As environmental concerns expand on the local and national levels, more environmental engineers will be needed to counteract the issues.

Systems Engineer

Average salary: $95,300
Job growth: 14%
Education: Bachelor’s

Systems engineers manage a company’s tech infrastructure or tech stack. Specifically, they maintain the hardware and software needed for businesses to complete their operations. These engineers are more common now than before because large and small companies have more complex tech stacks.

A tech stack is the collection of different technology and infrastructure needed to track customers, run company operations, and more. As these systems have become more complex, dedicated engineers have become more necessary to build and maintain them over time.

Systems engineers can sometimes acquire positions with degrees in engineering. But they more often benefit from certificates or extra degrees in related subjects such as programming, software development, etc. Systems engineers can work in various industries and for companies of all sizes.

Mechanical Engineer

Average salary: $95,300
Job growth: 7%
Education: Bachelor’s

Mechanical engineers are, for many individuals, the standard engineering professionals. Mechanical engineers use mechanical laws such as energy, motion, and force to design and build mechanical devices. They may build things like thermal sensors, machines, industrial facilities, etc.

Many of the typical duties of mechanical engineers include:

  • Building and testing prototypes for their designs
  • Drafting blueprints to be used by contractors or architects
  • Designing effective tools for mechanical engineering projects
  • Analyzing test results
  • Investigating equipment failures for companies

Many mechanical engineers find employment in the private sector and the federal government. They can work for big and large companies alike. Above all else, mechanical engineers must have solid minds for mathematics and engineering principles.

As somewhat more generalized engineers, they build, test, and maintain a wide variety of equipment and systems. They enjoy excellent job stability because of the never ending work.

Civil Engineer

Average salary: $88,050
Job growth: 8%
Education: Bachelor’s

Civil engineers design, build, and maintain infrastructure projects. More specifically, they may build and maintain commercial, residential, industrial, or land development projects for civil building organizations.

For example, when a city expands, it may need highways or water and sewage systems. Civil engineers can handle the design and implementation of those systems. Many of the typical duties of civil engineers include:

  • Testing pre construction field conditions
  • Reviewing or drawing up project plans or outlines
  • Observing construction contractors on job sites
  • Testing soil samples and construction materials
  • Developing cost estimates and plans for constructing buildings or systems
  • Ensuring that project constructs adhere to codes or design specifications

Civil engineers frequently work with similar professionals in the industry, such as architects and contractors. Because they have to wear many hats, many civil engineers benefit from excellent spatial orientation and design skills. But they also need strong communication skills, as they may have to lead teams to accomplish their objectives.

Cartographer

Average salary: $68,900
Job growth: 5%
Education: Bachelor’s

Some engineering majors decide to become cartographers. Cartographers collect, analyze, and interpret geographic data from ground surveys and photographs. When a new development seeks approval, a contracting organization may call a cartographer to ensure the project can proceed as planned.

During the project, the cartographer will:

  • Retrieve geographic data from a variety of sources. These include ground surveys, remote-sensing systems, aerial photographs, and satellite images.
  • Analyze the data to create maps and charts. The maps and charts help the contracting team and the cartographer themselves.
  • Interpret the data so that contractors or executives can make the right decisions.

Cartographers can work for government organizations, building companies, and universities. They influence zoning decisions and building locations across America.

Some cartographers can further specialize in oceanic cartography. They study the seabed or coastlines to assist with creating new infrastructure or implementing environmental development plans.

There are many different cartographer specializations you can pursue. Regardless, some engineers become cartographers since these jobs are a little more unique, have excellent salaries, and use many of the skills learned in engineering programs. Note that some cartography positions require applicants to have certificates for using specific software.

Biomedical Engineer

Average salary: $97,410
Job growth: 6%
Education: Master’s

Biomedical engineers knit together the engineering and medical skill sets. They combine many engineering principles with principles found in medical and biological sciences. Depending on their exact job responsibilities, biomedical engineers may perform tasks such as:

  • Evaluating, installing, or maintaining biomedical equipment
  • Training medical professionals to use biomedical equipment
  • Building new medical equipment for hospitals or clinics
  • Creating technical reports for hospital executives or doctors
  • Writing research papers and reporting findings to the medical community

Many modern hospitals or medical centers rely on machines and technology to provide their vital services to patients. Biomedical engineers maintain this equipment and create new devices for further medical breakthroughs.

Thus, some biomedical engineering positions require extra education beyond an engineering degree. They may require specialized degrees or graduate degrees in biomedical sciences.

Furthermore, some biomedical engineers specialize in software development. They may design, develop, and maintain software used by medical organizations. This software can be used for medical billing and coding, patient analysis, etc. Bottom line: biomedical engineering is an excellent field for engineers who want to help people through medical innovations.

Architect

Average salary: $80,180
Job growth: 3%
Education: Master’s

Those with engineering degrees can become architects if they prefer to design or outline buildings. Architects use skills in engineering, design, and coordination to make safe and aesthetically pleasing buildings. They can work in the private sector, for the federal government, and everyone in between.

Many architects love their jobs because they combine engineering principles with an artistic element. Most architects create both functional and aesthetically pleasing buildings. They design projects from college campuses to industrial facilities, shopping centers, houses, and more.

Thus, architects can specialize in different areas depending on their preferences and experience levels. Most architects, regardless of focus, are involved in every phase of a project. They may design the initial look and blueprints of a building, then oversee contractors as the project gets started. They also have to make sure that their buildings adhere to safety and building codes depending on local regulations.

While degrees in engineering may qualify individuals for some architect positions, others require architecture degrees. For example, it’s possible to get a bachelor’s degree in engineering, then a master’s degree in architecture to acquire competitive positions.

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Find the Online Degree Needed for the Best Jobs for Engineers

Ultimately, getting a degree in engineering is a great way to set yourself up for success. No matter what industry you end up in, your engineering degree will qualify you for lucrative positions. You can be an engineer in architecture, environmental preservation, and many other industries.

You’ll still need to earn your degree before you qualify for any of these lucrative jobs. Fortunately, GetEducated.com offers a comprehensive catalog of the best online universities. Many of these include 100% or primarily online engineering programs that work for nontraditional students!

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