This section is dedicated to some of the most in-demand engineering occupations.
Here you will find more information about careers such as architect, civil engineer, or robotics engineer.
If you want to become an engineer, an architect, or a drafter, we invite you to read further and visit the page dedicated to your future profession.
Acoustic engineers focus their efforts on the shaping and control of sound.
An aeronautical engineer specialises in the design and engineering behind any flying machine.
Aerospace engineers are known for stressing safety and reliability at all times.
As an architect, you'll design new buildings or extensions or alterations to existing structures.
An automotive engineer creates and tests new technologies that make vehicles more efficient.
As a Bioinformatics Engineer, you will be part of a team of molecular biologists, medical geneticists, and bioinformaticians.
Biomedical engineers work with a combination of biology, medicine and engineering.
Cartographers play an essential role in the process of collecting and visualizing geographic data.
Chemical engineers play a vital role in developing new products and providing quality assurance and improvement for existing ones.
Civil engineers help design and build the structures that we use every day.
Drafters create drawings for products that need to show technical details.
Electrical engineers are responsible for designing, building and maintaining electrical control systems and equipment.
Landscape architects combine artistic and creative perspectives with scientific and engineering knowledge.
Materials engineers find ways to use and improve existing materials and then come up with new ones.
Mechanical Engineers enjoy tackling a challenging variety of duties including design, analysis, problem-solving and creating systems.
Metallurgists develop different ways of processing metals and converting them into products which are useful for humans.
Mining engineer generally involves developing ways to safely and efficiently remove mineral and metal resources from the earth.
Nuclear engineers are responsible for supervising nuclear facility operations.
Petroleum engineers take part in exploring for and developing oil and gas resources.
Pharmaceutical engineers help to synthesize and produce new medications, offering treatment options for diseases.
Quality control analysts must have good critical thinking, manual dexterity, and mechanical skills.
Robotics engineers use technology and innovation to design and construct robotic systems.
Rollercoaster designers ensure that theme park attractions look entertaining, exciting and emotionally engaging.
Solar energy engineers design systems which generate electrical energy from sunlight, such as photovoltaic systems.
Wind energy engineers develop wind farms that produce energy from the wind.
If you want to become an engineer, you will need a bachelor’s degree but there are also technician and technologist professions that can be practiced with an associate’s degree.
The degree field varies depending on the engineering specialty.
For example, healthy and safety engineers usually have a bachelor’s degree in environmental health and safety engineering, while mechanical engineers major in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology.
Earning a master’s degree in engineering can help you get a higher starting salary and gives you the option of entering the occupation at a higher level.
There are also five-year accelerated programs available at some colleges and universities that result in a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
Licensure is not always needed for entry-level engineering occupations, but a Professional Engineer license brings a higher level of independence and the possibility of advancement to supervisory positions.
This license can usually be earned later in one’s career.
Licensing requirements vary by state, but they usually include the following:
- A degree from an engineering program accredited by ABET
- A passing score at a Fundamentals of Engineering exam
- At least four years of relevant work experience
- A passing score on the Professional Engineering exam
Although all states issue their license, most states recognize licenses that are issued in another state as long as that state’s requirements meet or exceed their requirements.
In some states, licensed Profession Engineers are required to participate in continuing education classes once every few years to keep their license.
This section also includes architects.
Architects need to complete several steps before becoming licensed:
- Completing a bachelor’s degree in architecture
- Gaining relevant experience through a paid internship
- Passing the Architect Registration Exam
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about three-thirds of all U.S. states require architects to hold a degree in architecture from an accredited school.
In total, there are 120 schools of architecture accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board.
The paid internship usually lasts three years and is a requirement in all states before sitting for the Architect Registration Examination.
A bachelor’s degree is also required for surveyor occupations.
Surveyors also need a license before being allowed to certify documents and provide services to the public.
The process of obtaining this license varies state by state, but requirements usually include:
- Completing the level of education required in your state
- Passing a Fundamentals of Surveying exam
- Work experience under the supervision of a licensed surveyor
- A passing score at the Principles and Practice of Surveying exam
Besides formal education requirements, some skills are especially helpful in engineering occupations, such as:
- Critical thinking – engineers need to provide solutions to specific problems, and they need logic and reasoning to find the best approach.
- Math skills – math principles are an essential instrument in all engineering occupations
- Problem-solving skills – workers in the engineering profession often face situations that require taking into account multiple factors, such as safety and quality.
- Time-management skills are important especially for those who have a supervisory position and have to make sure that the projects are finished on time.
There are also engineering occupations that don’t require a bachelor’s degree.
A high school diploma is usually enough for a position as a surveying technician, but you may need a diploma from a program that teaches Geographic Information Systems if you want to become a mapping technician.
Post-secondary programs are also available for surveying technicians.
Industrial engineering technologists and technicians usually need an associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate which can be obtained by attending classes at a community college or vocational school.
Technician and technologist positions in most engineering fields don’t usually require a bachelor’s degree but an associate’s degree or a diploma is often needed.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage reported for architecture and engineering occupations was $83,160 as of May 2020, almost double the median for all occupations-which was $41,950.
Salaries for engineering occupations vary, however, based on a wide range of factors, including experience level, specialty, and place of employment.
The numbers published by BLS show that petroleum engineers earned the highest median annual wage, which was $137,330.
The second-highest paying engineering field is computer hardware engineering, with a median annual wage of $119,560.
Aerospace engineering is another well-remunerated engineering specialty, with the median calculated at $118,610.
The lowest median annual wage out of this group was reported by surveying and mapping technicians, who earned $46,200.
Salaries are also influenced by other factors, and, as the numbers show, petroleum engineers can earn between less than $80,000 and more than $200,000.
Salaries for computer hardware engineers range between less than $70,000 and more than $190,000.
Engineering professions that require a bachelor’s degree are usually paid more than those that may be practiced with a high school diploma or associate’s degree.
However, many other factors can help a worker in an engineering profession earn more.
Experience, additional certifications, and a state-issued license can help an engineer earn more.
As the next sections show, salaries also vary depending on the industry and the state of employment.
Salaries by Industry of Employment
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for bioengineers and biomedical engineers was $92,620 with salaries ranging between less than $60,000 and more than $150,000.
The highest-paying industry for bioengineers was the industry of navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments measuring where the median annual wage by workers in this occupation was $104,050 as of May 2020.
Bioengineers who worked for colleges, universities, and professional schools earned, on average, $71,820, lower than the median for this occupation across all industries.
Health and safety engineers were remunerated, on average, with $94,240 per year, with salaries ranging between less than $56,000 and more than $144,000.
The highest-paying industry for this occupation was the field of engineering services with a median annual wage calculated at $103,160.
The construction field remunerated workers in this occupation with $81,850 while the median annual wage reported by health and safety engineers who worked for the government was $90,140.
Salaries by State
Salaries for engineering professions vary widely depending on the region of employment and the local economy.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top-paying state for mechanical engineers in 2020 was New Mexico, where mechanical engineers were remunerated with $117,180 per year, on average.
Median salaries over the $110,000 mark were also reported in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and California.
On the other hand, mechanical engineers in Arkansas earned less than $75,000 per year, on average.
Architectural and civil drafters in the District of Columbia and Alaska earned more than $70,000 per year on average while those in South Dakota earned less than $50,000.
Engineering occupations will grow in the future, with an average growth rate estimated at 6 percent for the 2020-2030 decade, according to BLS.
However, the demand varies widely depending on the engineering specialty.
One of the highest growth rates is projected for industrial engineers- a profession that will grow 14 percent.
The demand will also increase for chemical engineers, a profession that will grow 9 percent by 2030.
Employment for petroleum engineers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030 with 2,100 new job openings expected to appear each year.
Employment opportunities will depend on a variety of factors, such as oil prices and the local economy.
Health and safety engineers will see job growth of 6 percent from 2020 to 2030, resulting in 1,700 new job openings.
A 5 percent growth is also projected for agricultural engineers; those who are experienced in alternative energies and biofuels will have the best projects.
Computer hardware engineers will see job growth of only 2 percent in the next decade.
As more industries begin to research and create their own electronic devices, more computer hardware engineers will be needed in the manufacturing industry.
However, as centralized computing and networking services make it possible for a single worksite to cover large geographic areas, fewer engineers will be needed.
There are also engineering professions that will decline in the next decade.
Employment for electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians is projected to decline 2 percent from 2020 to 2030.
Many of the workers in these professions work in the manufacturing industry, which will be affected both in positive and negative ways by automation.
Those who are experienced in operating and maintaining robotic equipment will have the best employment prospects.
An even more dramatic decline is projected for nuclear engineers, an occupation that will decline 8 percent by 2030.
As utilities are opting for power generation solutions that are cheaper than nuclear power plants, the number of job openings available to nuclear engineers will decline.
This profession will also be impacted by the increasing viability of renewable energy solutions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a degree before starting a career in engineering?
Most engineering professions require a bachelor’s degree or at least an associate’s degree or diploma.
If you want to become an engineer, your employer will require a bachelor’s degree in an engineering field relevant to the specific occupation.
There are also entry-level jobs for technicians and technologists that can be practiced with only an associate’s degree or diploma.
Are engineering professions in demand?
Most engineering professions will see growth in the future, with rates that vary between 4 and 12 percent.
However, there are also professions, such as nuclear engineers or electro-mechanical and mechatronics technologists and technicians, that are projected to decline in the future.
This expected decline is caused, in part, by the emergence of new technologies and by renewable energy solutions that will replace traditional power supplies.
Do I need a license for employment as an engineer?
Although you won’t need a license for an entry-level engineer job, becoming a Professional Engineer will give you more independence, and it may improve your earning prospects.
This credential can be earned if you pass an exam after gaining a few years of experience in the field.
Are engineering professions remunerated well?
As with any profession, salaries in the engineering field vary widely depending on the level of education, experience, specialty, but also the region of employment, and local economy.
In May 2020, the highest median wage out of all engineering occupations was reported by petroleum engineers, who made around $137,000 per year, on average.
Technicians and technologists reported lower wages, with the medians ranging between $50,000-$70,000, depending on the field of expertise.