“Engineering” is a broad, diverse, far-ranging career field. In fact, the term is, by itself, too broad to cover all the different types of engineering. Engineers specialize in a specific area, science, or purpose. And, while you can find engineers working in practically all industries, the highest paying engineering jobs are found in certain disciplines and not others.
Mechanical engineering, for example, is one of the most common types. These are the engineers who design machines and products. There is also electrical engineering, industrial engineering, chemical engineering, and more.
We’ll go into further detail on the different types of engineers, but it’s important to understand that, because engineering is so broad, the educations are also diverse and unique. If you want to be a chemical engineer, you need an education that focuses, at some level, on chemical engineering. You can’t study computer engineering or marine engineering and then go into chemical engineers. (At least not without additional education!)
For this reason, the choice to study engineering is not enough. You need to decide what type is right for you. Hopefully reading about the highest paying engineering jobs, as well as the exciting work done by these experts, will help in your decision.
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How Much Do Engineers Make?
As we said above, there are many different types of engineers. And these different types earn different incomes, so if you ask “how much do engineers make?”, the appropriate response would be “depends on the type?”.
That said, engineering in general brings incomes that are well above the national average. Engineers of all types are skilled, talented, educated, and in demand, which means they are also well paid.
According the the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016 the median salary for all engineers was $91,010. This means that the median salary for all engineering professions during this year was over $54,000 more than the median salary for all workers. The highest paying engineering jobs come with salaries over $130,000 per year. Engineers have skills and knowledge that few people possess, skills that are not only rare but extremely useful, which means there is high competition among employers, including private sector and public sector, to pay them well.
What Types of Skills Will You Learn With an Engineering Program?
While each type of engineering education will bring unique skills and knowledge, there are some consistent skills that all engineers apply. Mathematics is probably the most important skill that applies to all engineers. Engineers need to understand mathematical principles of geometry, algebra, calculus, and many other disciplines to excel in this career.
The highest paid engineers, regardless of the career, will also develop good problem-solving skills. Problems addressed by an engineer might include:
- How to safely organize a city so traffic flows properly
- How to build a bridge that is pleasing to the eye and structurally sound
- How to improve software systems so they create better efficiencies
- How to choose the best material for a specific product
- How to develop construction standards and specifications
These are just a few of the complex problems that are faced by engineers on a daily basis.
Highest Paying Engineering Jobs with a Bachelor’s Degree
Median Salary: $137,720
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 3%
Do you want to work in an exciting field, join a career with only a bachelor’s degree, and work in a job that has a median salary over $137,00? Then you should become a petroleum engineer. These professionals develop extraction methods for oil and gas deposits, and also create equipment that can make the process faster or more affordable.
This career only requires a bachelor’s degree and no previous experience, but the top 10% can expect salaries over $208,000, making it one of the highest paying jobs in engineering. The only concern is the volatile nature of gas prices and the oil industry in general. Demand can fluctuate, politics can accelerate or slow demand, and renewal or “clean” sources may lower the need for petroleum engineers.
Popular Pick: from University of Southern California
Highest Paid Engineer Jobs with a Master’s Degree
Information Research Scientist
Median Salary: $122,840
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 15%
One of the great things about engineering careers is that you can enter a high paying job with just a bachelor’s degree. If you pursue the right discipline, after four years of college education you can enter a career that brings a salary over $100,000. In fact, we found six engineering careers that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only require a bachelor’s degree yet bring a median salary over $100,000.
However, there is still a benefit in pursuing your masters. An information research scientists, as an example, has a tremendous median salary while bringing annual incomes over $189,000 for the top 10%.
To become an information research scientist, you need an appropriate master’s degree. A master’s degree in computer engineering is a common education for this type of engineer.
These highly-skilled professionals create new approaches to computer technology, using mathematics, coding, analysis, and genuine innovation. They design software experiments, solve complex computing issues, and develop systems that form the foundation for modern computing. Without information research scientists, it’s hard to imagine the mobile, information-dense society that will live in today.
Popular Pick: from University of Delaware
What are the Highest Paying Engineering Jobs?
Wondering what are the highest paying engineering jobs? According to the, these are your best options for a lucrative career in engineering…
#1 Engineering Manager
Median Salary: $144,830
Experience: 5 or more years
Although a bachelor’s degree will start you down the path to becoming an engineering manager, you need at least five years of in-the-field experience. Engineering managers work in a strenuous, complex environments, and they are tasked with creating the detailed plans that result in a finished product. At its core, this job is a management position, but a deep understanding of engineering is critical. For this reason, many engineering managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in an engineering specialty. Business and management classes may also be required to secure one of these highest paying engineering jobs.
If you work your way to the top of this career, you can expect a salary over $208,000, making this not only one of the highest paying engineering jobs, but one of the top careers in the country.
Popular Pick: from Grantham University
#2 Computer Hardware Engineer
Median Salary: $117,220
As consumers, we rarely think about the hardware. More thought is placed on the software and apps that we use on a daily basis. But what about the chips, processors, screens, memory devices, and countless other physical technologies that make the software possible? By designing, testing, and analyzing new hardware, computer hardware engineers are the people who make it all possible.
The top 10% in this profession can expect salaries over $185,000, although job growth is expected to be minimal because computing networks may reduce the need for more physical equipment and hardware.
Popular Pick: from Regent University
#3 Aerospace Engineer
Median Salary: $116,500
The aerospace industry is cruising towards greater efficiency, more capability, and the ability to transport people and cargo in a more cost-effective manner. Leading this effort will be aerospace engineers, who are educated in physics, chemistry, computer programming, advanced mathematics, and many other disciplines.
Aerospace engineers can expect salaries over $166,000 if they are in the top 10%. Over a third work in product and parts manufacturing, but roughly 16% work for the government.
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#4 Nuclear Engineer
Median Salary: $116,500
Nuclear energy, when safely harnessed, can be one of the most promising and efficient forms of power. But to properly utilize this source, we need highly skilled professionals, including nuclear engineers to research and develop new ways to obtain the benefits of radioactive material. Although most private-sector jobs only require a bachelor’s degree, some may require a master’s or even a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering.
The median pay is outstanding, and the top 10% can expect salaries over $179,000. Although the pay is excellent, the demand for nuclear engineers is expected to drop sharply, as cheaper natural gas may eat away the demand for nuclear energy. Despite the high pay, the reduced demand may make nuclear engineer less common than other types of engineers.
Popular Pick: from Excelsior College
#5 Chemical Engineer
Median Salary: $108,770
If you have ever filled your car with fuel, used medication of any type, or even consumed processed food, you have benefited from the work of a chemical engineer. These are the experts who solve problems that involve chemicals, and are often used to improve manufacturing, product quality, or production methods. They may also establish safety measures for working with dangerous chemicals.
Chemical engineers enjoy high salaries, and the top 10% can expect to earn more than $176,000 annually. It also has a strong outlook, as the career will likely grow by 4%, keeping pace with the national average for all careers.
Popular Pick: from Illinois Institute of Technology
#6 Electrical & Electronics Engineer
Median Salary: $101,250
There is an endless list of potential products and equipment that require the precise expertise of an electrical engineer. Large items like cars, planes, marine ships, and even buildings need these skilled professionals. Smartphones, power tools, even home appliances need the service of an electrical engineer, whose job it is to design electrical systems that power products.
Electrical and electronics engineering is one of the many careers with median salaries over $100,000, but the top 10% enjoy annual incomes over $150,000.
Popular Pick: from ECPI University
#7 Construction Manager
Median Salary: $95,260
Working with architects, engineers, construction specialists, and contractors, a construction manager is responsible for the complete coordination of a building project. Whether it’s residential or commercial construction, these experienced managers come from many backgrounds, and engineering is a common education.
There is some training required, but the right engineering bachelor’s degree can help you land this position. The growing emphasis on retrofitting existing buildings, enhancing energy efficiencies, and a general increase in new construction will drive the demand for high-quality construction managers. The top 10% can expect salaries over $164,000, making this an ideal position for people skilled in both engineering, organization, and management.
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#8 Materials Engineer
Median Salary: $93,360
Materials engineers, which is one of the many high-paying types of engineers, literally create new raw materials that can be applied to an endless list of products. A lighter metal for vehicles, a stronger plastic for cell phones, a flexible ceramic for manufacturing; all of these can be, and have been, created by the innovations of a materials engineer.
The pay is strong, and the top 10% can expect salaries over $148,000. However, growth will only be 2%, below the national average for all careers. Because computer modeling can help predict material performance, the demand for engineers in this field will be slower. To enhance the chances of success, aspiring materials engineers are encouraged to take classes in computer simulations and modeling.
Popular Pick: from Columbia University in NYC
#9 Marine Engineer
Median Salary: $92,400
If you have an interest in boats, including hydrodynamics, efficiencies, and propulsion, a career as a marine engineer may be perfect for you. These engineers design and build boats, submarines, ships, cargo vessels, and any other vehicle that takes to the water. They not only design and build the exterior, they are often responsible for internal components, such as the electrical, propulsion, and steering systems, which can be massively complex on even small ships.
Marine engineers will only grow by 1% between 2019 and 2029, much slower than the national average. Part of the issues is the fact that many of these engineers supply ships for the military, so fickle government budgets can make this an unpredictable career field. However, the top 10% can expect salaries over $147,000, making this a potentially lucrative career for people who can find work.
#10 Biomedical Engineer
Median Salary: $91,410
Prosthetic legs, artificial heart valves, comfortable hearing aides. All of these devices, and countless more, are the product of biomedical engineering. But biomedical engineers do more than create items for our bodies; they also create machines for diagnosing health problems, create software specifically for healthcare purposes, and test drug therapies, among many other services.
As a biomedical engineer, you can enjoy strong salaries, and if you work your way to the top 10% you’ll have annual earnings over $148,000, making this one of the highest paying jobs in engineering. Job growth is expected to be 5%, making this a stable career for talented engineers.
Popular Pick: from University of North Dakota
#11 Geological Engineer
Median Salary: $91,160
There are many different minerals that need to be extracted from the Earth. Thanks to geological engineers, we are able to obtain these materials in a safe, efficient, and effective manner. Geological engineers design mines, supervise extraction projects, and prepare technical reports for managers and miners.
With the top 10% earning over $151,000, this is an excellent engineering career for anyone that wants a strong income combined with a steady career field.
Popular Pick: from University of Idaho
Can Engineers Find Work Outside of Engineering?
After an online engineering degree, you goal is probably to land one of the highest paying engineering. We don’t blame you! But can also use your talents in another industry.
If you complete a degree in engineering, you don’t necessarily need to move right into an engineering career. You’ll have a variety of skills and abilities that directly apply to numerous careers, including problem solving, team work, and managing complex variable to reach a specific outcome.
All of these skills can make you attractive to employers outside of engineering, but it’s up to you to focus on how these skills can benefit an employer. If seeking a non-engineering career, emphasize how your experience can directly translate to the employer. Give specific examples of how your education and experience could be put to use for the specific goals of your potential employer. Include your mathematical skills, organizational experience, creativity, and computer skills to make yourself look like the highly-talented job recruit that you are!
Continuing Education for Engineers
No matter what career you work in, continuing education is important. Whether you work as a petroleum engineer or an engineering manager, you need to be continually up-to-date on the latest techniques and advancements. Engineering is a continually-evolving field, and even age-old disciplines like road building or bridge construction are being improved, modified, and enhanced.
All types of engineers need to be educated in the latest technology. While you may not have taken software and coding classes in college, it’s highly likely that understanding computer applications that apply to your career will be extremely useful. Classes, seminars, and conferences on engineering software will help you maintain a high aptitude in the field.
If you have a bachelor’s degree and work in a specific type of engineering, it’s entirely possible that a master’s degree could further your career. It’s not necessary, and experience is often just as good (or better) than formal in-person or online classes, but a master’s degree may set you up for further success and promotion.
For example, geological engineers can improve their careers and earning potential by completing a master’s degree that is directly related to geological engineering. Completing a two-year program after your bachelor’s degree could make you more attractive to employers seeking highly qualified geological engineers.
According to an article from Monster, a job-search website, six of the top paying master’s degrees are in the field of engineering. A master’s in telecommunications engineering, which was #2 on their list, will qualify you for jobs that have a median salary of $141,000. Electrical engineering, computer engineering, and biomedical engineering were all on the list of master’s degrees that result in the highest paid engineers.
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With flexible schedules and formats that fit your busy lifestyle, an online engineering degree can set you up for one of the highest paying engineering jobs featured in this article.