Engineering is a field of science that includes many different specialties and career paths. Some options focus on more general aspects of engineering, while others are extremely specialized. Working in engineering can provide several opportunities for growth and advancement. In this article, we discuss some of the different types of engineering jobs available and the main duties of each.
What is engineering?
Engineering applies math and science to solve specific problems. An engineer is responsible for figuring out how something works and applying scientific discoveries. Engineers work in a wide range of industries, including aerospace, manufacturing, construction and medicine.
An engineer chooses a specialty or area of focus, which will allow them to become more familiar with related principles and applications. However, many of the areas of engineering overlap because engineers need to understand the basic principles and concepts behind other specialties to succeed.
An engineer must have in-depth knowledge of science, mathematics and computer applications, including computer-aided design and simulations. After completing the required education, an engineer typically must take an exam to become a certified Professional Engineer. Many engineers also belong to the American Society of Professional Engineers, as well as any other related societies in their areas of specialization.
Engineering jobs are found across many different industries and workplace settings. An engineer might work in a factory, nuclear power plant, research lab, offshore oil rig, office building or construction job site. Most engineering positions require at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, along with state certification as a Professional Engineer. Working as an engineering professor or in a senior position will often require a master’s degree or doctoral degree.
Top engineering jobs
Here are some of the highest-paying engineering jobs available:
1. Biomedical engineer
National average salary: $75,566 per year
Primary duties: Biomedical engineers analyze problems and develop solutions related to medicine and biology, with a focus on improving the effectiveness and quality of care given to patients. Their duties include designing products and systems–including medical devices and machinery; providing technical support for biomedical products; and maintaining, repairing, installing and adjusting products and devices.
They may also assist in training clinicians and other medical personnel on the proper use of medical equipment, working with other professionals to research the biological systems of animals and humans and evaluating the efficiency and safety of biomedical products.
2. Environmental engineer
National average salary: $77,723 per year
Primary duties: An environmental engineer applies the principles of soil science, chemistry, biology and engineering to develop solutions to environmental concerns and problems. Their main duties include preparing, reviewing and updating investigative reports; obtaining and maintaining permits, plans and standard operating procedures and designing projects for environmental protection. They may also monitor the progress of environmental improvement projects, inspect facilities to ensure compliance with regulations and analyze scientific data.
3. Civil engineer
National average salary: $80,928 per year
Primary duties: Civil engineers are responsible for managing the structures and infrastructure used by people regularly. They use different types of computer software to develop detailed designs and create calculations to ensure that roads, structures, bridges and other aspects of infrastructure are safe for use. Additionally, they manage budgets and resources on a specific project, oversee the construction process, ensure compliance with health and safety regulations and assess the environmental impact and sustainability of projects. Civil engineers may work with local governments and authorities, construction companies, utility companies and rail companies.
4. Electrical engineer
National average salary: $86,775 per year
Primary duties: An electrical engineer is responsible for designing, developing and testing electrical equipment and devices, including motors, power generators, communication systems and electrical components used in aircraft and vehicles. They also operate computer-assisted design computer programs, communicate with clients to understand their needs when designing electrical systems and ensure that all components comply with codes and specifications.
They may coordinate the installation, manufacturing, repair and maintenance process with other engineers and involved professionals; compile data and write reports regarding their electrical projects and maintain all necessary electrical equipment.
5. Chemical engineer
National average salary: $93,063 per year
Primary duties: A chemical engineer develops and designs processes related to chemical manufacturing. They apply the principles of chemistry, math, physics and biology to identify and solve problems related to the use or production of food, drugs, fuel and other chemicals in a wide range of products.
They may conduct research to develop improved manufacturing processes, plan and design the layout of manufacturing equipment and establish safety procedures for individuals who work with chemicals and other dangerous substances. Chemical engineers also estimate costs for specific projects, troubleshoot manufacturing problems and evaluate processes or equipment to ensure compliance with environmental and safety regulations.
6. Mechanical engineer
National average salary: $97,176 per year
Primary duties: Mechanical engineers design mechanical machinery and components, including tools, machines and engines. Their duties include analyzing problems to determine how new or improved devices might solve them, investigating equipment and machinery difficulties and failures and developing and testing mechanical device prototypes. They use CAD programs and analysis to design mechanical devices and systems and oversee the manufacturing process of a mechanical device.
7. Aeronautical engineer
National average salary: $98,310 per year
Primary duties: Aeronautical engineers work with aircraft and propulsion systems. They focus on the technology, practice and theory of flight within the atmosphere of the Earth to determine how to develop aircraft that perform more effectively under harsh conditions.
Their job duties might include coordinating and directing the testing, manufacture and design of aircraft and ensuring that all projects meet safety regulations. They also develop criteria for quality standards and design methods for aircraft and inspect damaged or malfunctioning aircraft to identify potential problems and solutions.
8. Software engineer
National average salary: $105,090 per year
Primary duties: Software engineers develop information systems and programs using computer programming languages. Common job duties include preparing and installing solutions; designing system specifications; programming standards and documenting and demonstrating solutions through the use of code, flowcharts, diagrams and comments.
They also obtain licenses for software by gaining necessary information from vendors; collect, analyze and summarize data; evaluate the feasibility of client requests in software programs and develop solutions to common technological problems.
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