It’s widely acknowledged that STEM (science, engineering, technology and math) graduates go on to have lucrative careers. So, if you’re a whizz at any of these subjects or are drawn to learning more about them, you could turn your passion into a pretty high flying profession.
As a petroleum engineer with a well-established career for example, you could be earning in the realm of $175,500 per year. Nuclear engineers are looking at a salary of around $127,500 midway through their careers and marine engineers at $123,200. The U.S. is known for producing some of the best engineers in the world, who gain top degrees at some of the most prestigious American universities. Though a bachelor's degree is the standard engineering qualification, for particular engineering jobs some employers may require a master’s degree or, occasionally, a doctorate. All engineers, in any discipline however, must pass a licensing exam if they offer services directly to the public.
Want to know how you can get in on the action? Read on to learn about 10 of the highest paid and most interesting engineering degrees and where you can go to study them.
[Salary data comes from Payscale].
10. Civil Engineering
Early career pay: $57,500
Mid-career pay: $98,500
Best places to study: University of California – Berkeley, Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of Illinois.
What does it involve? Civil engineering graduates are in high demand in 2018. Every big (and small) city needs roads, bridges and transportation facilities, and this is where civil engineers come into play. Civil engineers build all sorts of infrastructure and they can also do their bit for the environment too by designing and implementing environmentally-friendly projects. Depending on where you’ve studied, where you decide to work and what projects you take on, being a civil engineer can be a great career that combines giving back to the community with a decent paycheck.
9. Biomedical Engineering
Early career pay: $62,900
Mid-career pay: $103,500
Best places to study: John Hopkins University, Duke University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University.
What does it involve? Biomedical engineering (BME), also known as bioengineering, involves applying engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes. Also included under the scope of a biomedical engineer is the management of medical equipment within hospitals, the development of biocompatible prostheses, various diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices, common imaging equipment such as MRIs and EKG/ECGs, regenerative tissue growth, pharmaceutical drugs and therapeutic biologicals. Biomedical engineers can choose to work in hospitals, engineering firms or medical supply companies.
8. Mechanical Engineering
Early career pay: $64,000
Mid-career pay: $106,800
Best places to study: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of California – Berkeley, California Institute of Technology.
What does it involve? The work and salary of a mechanical engineer varies greatly and can include anything from small assignments to the development of large plants and vehicles. Mechanical engineers are needed in most industries and can be involved in all aspects of a project from research and development to manufacturing, management, and production.
7. Computer Engineering
Early career pay: $70,300
Mid-career pay: $116,000
Best places to study: Columbia University, United States Naval Academy, Princeton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ohio State University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Iowa State University
What does it involve? Computer engineering is a relatively new field of engineering. IT professionals get paid generously for their labour and employers are prepared to pay even higher salaries for college graduates. As we embrace the Internet of Things and other advances in digital technology, computer engineers are becoming more and more integral to the world in the context of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
6. Aerospace Engineering
Early career pay: $66,300
Mid-career pay: $113,000
Best places to study: Virginia Tech, Florida Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology.
What does it involve? Aerospace engineers work with multidisciplinary teams to design, develop and test spaceships, aircraft and missiles, tapping into knowledge that spans aerodynamics, avionics, propulsion and materials science. A senior aerospace engineer usually has many years of experience across various engineering industries. At this level, aerospace engineers usually supervise other engineers and may be responsible for major projects both military or civilian. Again, as space exploration advances and commercial space travel becomes a reality, this is a sector ripe for graduates.
5. Electrical Power Engineering
Early career pay: $68,600
Mid-career pay: $119,100
Best places to study: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of California – Berkeley, University of Michigan.
What does it involve? Electrical power engineers are responsible for generating electricity and transferring it to the various distribution networks. They then must ensure its proper delivery to the millions of businesses and homes that require it. In most projects, a power engineer must coordinate with civil and mechanical engineers, environmental experts, legal representatives and financial liaisons. Even as you read this, you are completely reliant on the steady flow of electricity that is facilitated by the skilled people that work in power engineering. It is without a doubt an extremely important and current (no pun intended) industry in which to get involved.
4. Marine Engineering
Early career pay: $73,900
Mid-career pay: $123,200
Best places to study: Virginia Tech, University of New Orleans, University of New Hampshire, University of Alabama, Maine Maritime Academy, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, United States Merchant Marine Academy, the U.S. Naval.
What does it involve? Marine engineering is another highly paid field that is less common than other majors. Only around 500 people a year get degrees in this discipline, which makes you stand out from the engineering industry crowd. What’s more, the job outlook for marine engineers is positive. The field has an expected job growth rate of 12% between 2016 to 2026. It involves the engineering of ships, boats, oil rigs and any other marine vessel or structure, as well as oceanographic or ocean engineering.
3. Chemical Engineering
Early career pay: $70,300
Mid-career pay: $124,500
Best places to study: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, University of California – Berkeley, Princeton University, Yale University, Georgia Institute of Technology.
What does it involve? Chemical engineers are typically employed in the areas of manufacturing, research, design, and development. They work not only for chemical companies, but also in the manufacturing of electronics, clothing, paper, drinks, oil, gas, plastics, medicine, and food to name just a few. It’s one of the most popular engineering majors, with over 10,000 students getting undergraduate degrees every year.
2. Nuclear Engineering
Early career pay: $69,500
Mid-career pay: $127,500
Best places to study: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California – Berkeley, United States Military Academy, Pennsylvania State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Missouri University of Science and Technology
What does it involve? Nuclear engineers derive benefits from radiation and research and develop systems, equipment and tools for transferring nuclear energy for various good causes, for example, like medicine and industrial engineering. Their services are highly sought after but it’s not a risk free career due to the innate nature of what’s involved. Around 500 students a year obtain undergraduate degrees in nuclear engineering. The expected growth rate for this field during the period 2016-2026 is just 4%, but it’s still a very profitable career to embark upon.
1. Petroleum Engineering
Early career pay: $94,600
Mid-career pay: $175,500
Best places to study: University of Wyoming, Colorado School of Mines, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College, Pennsylvania State University
What does it involve? Petroleum engineering is undoubtedly the most lucrative of all the engineering careers. What’s more, the demand for petroleum engineers is expected to exceed the number of individuals trained to fill available positions – therefore increasing the demand for qualified graduates. Petroleum engineers search for natural reservoirs of petroleum and then help recover it for subsequent use. If you are considering studying this type of engineering, then knowledge of chemistry, maths and geology are essential. During the 10-year period from 2016 to 2026, this occupation is expected to have a growth rate of 15%. That’s more than twice the projected all-occupation growth rate.
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