What Types Of Engineering Careers Are There?

Engineering CareersIf you’re fascinated by scientific and mathematical problem solving and love designing structures and devices for a particular purpose, you probably want to know more about the types of engineering careers available. A wide range of industries need engineers to design products and infrastructure and come up with ways to deliver their services to businesses and consumers.

Engineers work in electronics, chemistry, petroleum, city construction, aircraft, agriculture, medicine and many other areas that require expert science and math skills to solve problems. They design chemical compounds to be used in household cleaners, and they’re responsible for the technological breakthroughs that allow computers to be smaller and more powerful year after year.

What Are the Highest-Paying Engineering Careers?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paid engineers with only a four-year degree are petroleum engineers, making a median annual salary of $130,280. The next highest-paid engineers with a four-year degree are nuclear engineers, earning a median annual salary of $104,270. The third highest-paid engineers with a four-year degree are aerospace engineers, making a median annual salary of $103,720.

Other high-paying engineering careers include computer hardware engineers ($100,920), chemical engineers ($94,350) and electrical engineers ($89,630). The lowest-paid engineers with a four-year degree are agricultural engineers, who still earn a median annual salary of $74,000. The top-earning ten percent of agricultural engineers earned $115,680 per year or more in 2012.

How to Choose an Engineering Career

As a prospective engineer, you’re naturally a practically-minded person, so it makes sense to consider your potential salary when deciding on an engineering career. Other important factors include job opportunities and the amount of education required to begin your career. One of the fastest-expanding engineering fields is also the highest-paying: petroleum engineering. Civil engineers will also be in high demand due to aging civil infrastructures. Many other engineering fields are expected to have somewhat below-average growth.

For example, job growth for chemical engineers is only expected to be 4 percent over the next ten years, but these professionals often find employment in the rapidly expanding petroleum engineering field. If there’s a field of engineering you’re particularly interested in, you’ll perform best in school and work by pursuing that field, even if the job outlook is less favorable than for other fields. However, you may be required to relocate to find work.

Related Resource: Become a Mechanical Engineer

How to Get Engineering Experience

While a four-year degree is the minimum requirement for all engineering careers, a master’s degree can open new doors to more specialized positions. Before starting your first engineering job, you’ll need to complete an internship while in college. You may also gain relevant experience by working as a technician in a related field. For example, aerospace technicians assist engineers in developing aircraft, and they only need a two-year associate’s degree.

Other engineering fields that employ technicians include civil, electronic, environmental, industrial and mechanical engineering. These professionals earn between $45,000 and $60,000 per year on average, although the job growth in these fields is expected to be very slow.

If you’re a naturally technically-minded person, pursuing an engineering career can be an exciting and rewarding investment of your time. Expect to study and work hard when entering any of the types of engineering careers.

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