Engineering is more than just calculations and blueprints; it’s about innovating and building solutions that improve lives, promote sustainability, and drive economic growth. Engineers are at the forefront of the future, from designing cutting-edge software to constructing resilient infrastructure. They are both thinkers and doers. Imagine a typical day filled with analyzing data, sketching designs, collaborating with cross-functional teams, and sometimes even getting your hands dirty. Their work can be found in every industry, from aerospace to biotech, offering endless opportunities. We’ve done our research and compiled a list of the best paying jobs in engineering to guide you through the top ten roles where your engineering skills will not only be in high demand but also bring in a pretty paycheck. Now, let’s get started!
Is engineering a good career path to pursue?
Let’s get straight to the point: Engineering is more than just a career; it’s a calling for those who love solving complex problems and contributing to the advancement of society. Different from some professions where the impact of your work might not always be evident, engineering offers immediate, tangible results. And when considering the best paying jobs in engineering, the financial rewards can be quite compelling.
The field constantly evolves as new technologies emerge, creating a dynamic work environment where every day is different. Innovation provides a steady stream of new challenges, so you will always be learning and updating your skills and knowledge. The versatility also makes it possible to switch industries without negatively impacting career trajectory.
On the other hand, let’s not ignore the elephant in the room: engineering is demanding. High expectations, tight deadlines, and enormous responsibility make it a stressful profession. Whether the tradeoff is worth it is a matter of personal preference and perspective.
Pros of a career in engineering
- High salary potential: The knowledge required and the critical nature of the work often lead to higher-than-average compensation packages. Even entry-level positions can offer competitive salaries, which increase significantly with experience and specialization.
- Job diversity: Ranging from civil and electrical to aerospace and biomedical engineering, many sub-disciplines and focus areas exist. You can find a niche that aligns with your interests while also having the flexibility to switch between sectors as your career progresses.
- Intellectual stimulation: If you like problem-solving, critical thinking, and intellectual challenges, engineering provides an environment where these traits are valued and part of the daily routine. Innovation is constantly at your fingertips, from improving energy systems to making transportation safer.
- Positive job outlook: The world will always need engineers. With technology constantly advancing and global challenges becoming more complex, qualified professionals will remain in high demand.
- Impactful work: Engineers are integral to shaping the future and improving the world. Whether it’s through sustainable building practices, medical technologies, or software solutions, your work will have a direct, positive impact on individuals and communities alike.
Disadvantages of a career in engineering
- Demanding educational requirements: A bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum requirement for entry. You might also need advanced degrees or certifications for specialized roles, which could create an ongoing cycle of education and training.
- High-stress levels: The complexity of work often comes with a fair amount of stress. These jobs can be mentally demanding, whether dealing with tight deadlines, public safety risks, or just everyday challenges of problem-solving under pressure.
- Limited work-life balance: The work-life balance in engineering may not be ideal, depending on your role and industry. Working long hours, traveling frequently, or being on call for emergencies may be necessary.
- Competitive job market: Although engineers are in steady demand, the field attracts top talent. Jobs can be competitive – especially highly specialized or coveted ones. Having the right education and work experience may not be enough to overcome competition with similarly qualified candidates, making job searching time-consuming and frustrating.
- Industry sensitivity: Certain sectors are more susceptible to economic fluctuations than others. For example, a downturn in the economy may lead to stalled civil engineering projects, which could result in layoffs.
Best Paying Jobs in Engineering
Computer hardware engineer
Average salary for a computer hardware engineer: $132,360
Growth projection: 5% over the next decade
Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, electrical engineering, or a related field
Experience: While entry-level positions are available, internships or experience in hardware engineering can make candidates more competitive. Some roles may require a master’s degree.
Computer hardware engineers design, develop, and test the physical components of computers and computer systems. These components range from motherboards, CPUs, and memory chips to more complex pieces like routers, servers, and supercomputers.
Their role involves the development of new hardware but also the modification of existing hardware to interact more efficiently with software. They run tests, diagnose hardware issues, and update systems to improve performance. Holding a pivotal position in the best paying jobs in engineering, these engineers work closely with software engineers, data scientists, and other professionals to seamlessly integrate hardware and software.
Average salary for an aerospace engineer: $126,880
Growth projection: 6% over the next decade
Education: Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or related field to aerospace systems
Experience: Entry-level roles are available, but internships or research projects in aerospace engineering provide an advantage. Some positions, especially in research or academia, may require a master’s or doctoral degree.
Aerospace engineers are responsible for designing, developing, and testing aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles. In the aerospace industry, there are two main sectors: aeronautic engineering, which involves airplanes and aviation systems, and astronautical engineering, which focuses on spacecraft and extraterrestrial travel.
Their tasks range from conceptual design to simulation testing to manufacturing supervision. Whether designing a more fuel-efficient airplane or a new satellite system, the job demands strong analytical skills and an understanding of engineering principles.
Average salary for a petroleum engineer: $124,300
Growth projection: 2% over the next decade
Education: Bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering or a related field
Experience: Entry-level positions are available, but internships or oil and gas industry experience is preferred.
Petroleum engineers extract and produce oil and gas. To learn more about the earth’s formations, they often work closely with geologists to devise methods that improve oil and gas extraction and production. These professionals are involved in drilling plans, evaluating the production of wells, and implementing recovery techniques to maximize yield.
Their work isn’t limited to the field, as they’ll also be involved in office work, including data analysis, project planning, and coordination with multidisciplinary teams. They ensure that oil and gas operations are productive, environmentally sustainable, and safe.
Average salary for a nuclear engineer: $122,480
Growth projection: 1% over the next decade
Education: Bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering or a related engineering field
Experience: Entry-level positions are typically available, but an internship or research projects in nuclear engineering is preferred. For advanced roles, a master’s degree or Ph.D. may be required.
Nuclear engineers focus on harnessing the power of atomic and subatomic particles for various applications, primarily for energy production in nuclear power plants. They can be involved in everything from designing new reactors to improving existing systems for waste management and safety protocols.
A typical day may consist of conducting experiments, analyzing data, or developing new technologies. They work on reactor cores, radiation shielding, and instrumentation controls. Considering the high stakes and potential risks associated with nuclear materials, this career often involves a lot of documentation and regulatory compliance.
Average salary for a software engineer: $121,760
Growth projection: 25% over the next decade
Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field
Experience: Entry-level jobs are available, but internships or coding bootcamps are preferred. Some roles may require specialized skills or a master’s degree.
Software engineers are the architects of the digital world. They design, develop, and maintain software applications that power everything from smartphone apps to cloud-based systems to self-driving vehicles. Typical projects can vary significantly depending on the industry, whether it’s healthcare, finance, technology, or government.
Their responsibilities include writing code, debugging, and testing new software solutions. They work in Agile or Scrum environments, collaborating closely with designers, product managers, and other engineers.
Some focus mainly on application development, while others specialize in systems software, overseeing an organization’s technical infrastructure. Also, certain niches within the field may require additional training or education, including cybersecurity, machine learning, or blockchain.
Average salary for a data engineer: $113,900
Growth projection: 9% over the next decade
Education: Bachelor’s degree in computer science, data science, software engineering, or a related field
Experience: Entry-level roles are usually available, but experience in database management, data analytics, or related areas is preferred. Some specialized roles may require a master’s degree.
Data engineers are the backbone of any data-driven organization. They are responsible for the architecture, design, and maintenance of scalable data pipelines that collect, store, and analyze data. These pipelines serve as the foundation for data scientists and analysts, who draw insights from the data.
Their tasks range from creating and integrating APIs for data acquisition to developing complex ETL processes. They work with big data platforms like Hadoop and Spark and various NoSQL databases like MongoDB or Cassandra. Data warehousing solutions such as Amazon Redshift or Google BigQuery are also commonly used.
Growth projection: 5% over the next decade
Education: Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or a related field
Experience: Entry-level positions are available, but internships or research experience in electrical engineering is preferred. A master’s or doctoral degree may be required for specialized roles.
Electrical engineers design, develop, and maintain electrical systems and products. This field encompasses everything from power distribution to automation. Various industries employ them, such as energy, transportation, telecommunications, and consumer electronics.
They may work on circuit design, software development, or the management of power systems. Their duties could involve developing new electrical equipment, testing existing electrical systems for efficiency and safety, or planning and managing electrical projects from conception to completion.
Average salary for a materials engineer: $100,140
Growth projection: 5% over the next decade
Education: Bachelor’s degree in materials science, materials engineering, or a related engineering field
Experience: Internships or research projects focused on materials science is preferred. A master’s or doctoral degree may be required for specialized or leadership roles.
Materials engineers, who occupy roles among the best paying jobs in engineering, create new products or enhance existing ones using different materials, such as metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites. Their work involves developing lighter, more durable aerospace components to creating biocompatible materials for medical implants.
They choose materials according to specific design criteria, like mechanical strength, electrical conductivity, or thermal stability. These engineers take part in the testing phase to assess a material’s performance under different conditions, utilizing techniques like electron microscopy or spectroscopy.
Growth projection: 6% over the next decade
Education: Bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a related engineering field
Experience: Internships or experience in environmental engineering is recommended. Academia or research roles may require a master’s or doctoral degree.
An environmental engineer applies principles of biology, chemistry, and physics to develop sustainable solutions. They could design wastewater treatment systems, develop methods to reduce air pollution, or consult on sustainable construction.
These professionals conduct environmental impact assessments, develop policies for environmental protection, and design technologies to improve the health of ecosystems. A typical day might involve consulting with scientists to understand the details of environmental challenges or working with companies to develop sustainable business practices.
Growth projection: 8% over the next decade
Education: Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a closely related field
Experience: Internships and chemical engineering experience are highly beneficial. Some specialized roles may require a master’s degree or Ph.D.
A chemical engineer applies chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics to solve problems relating to producing and using chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and other products. From pharmaceuticals and healthcare to energy and materials science, their responsibilities could range widely.
They might design processes and systems for large-scale manufacturing, optimize production methods, or improve existing processes to use resources efficiently. They’ll also oversee safety management and quality control, meeting environmental and other regulations.