For those who are thinking of starting a career in engineering, you don’t have to look too far for inspiration. From the Tube train you took to work this morning to the machine that made your morning latte, right to the building you’re sitting in and the computer you’re reading this on right now, everything around you was designed, built and is maintained by engineers.
In such an industrially and technologically advanced world, it’s likely that there is an industry and a discipline to suit everyone. But regardless of the field, the overall goal of engineering is the same: to innovate and develop solutions to society’s ever-shifting problems, no matter how large or small.
As a result, engineering is one of the fastest growing and best-paid professions in the world. Whether you’re a graduate, an apprentice or an experienced hire, there is a broad array of fields to choose from.
To help, we’ve compiled a handy list of the highest-paying ones! So read on, and find out where your skills could be best utilised!
10. Civil Engineer
Average salary: $83,540 (£63,570) (higher for chartered personnel)
Aside from military engineering, this is the oldest engineering discipline in the world and is concerned with the building and maintenance of the built and natural environment. As a result, civil engineering is typically broken down into sub-disciplines, including:
- Structural: Probably the most prominent type of civil engineering, it involves the structural design and analysis of buildings, bridges, towers, tunnels, flyovers, offshore structures and other manmade projects.
- Construction: Deals with the planning and logistical side of building and construction work, and is more business-focused.
- Environmental: Involves sanitary engineering, including hazardous waste management procedures and environmental remediation work.
- Transportation: Involves designing, monitoring and building transportation routes, including roads, highways, railway systems, canals, airports, ports and mass transit systems.
- Coastal: Similar to water resources engineering (which focuses more on inland water management such as dams), coastal engineering deals with erosion and water defences particularly in vulnerable areas such as the Netherlands and the southern US.
Although these are the more prominent areas, there are many other subspecialties, including municipal, surveying, plant, earthquake and forensic engineering.
Civil engineers have a very unique skillset and, due to the commercial nature of their work, are often employed by recognisable global firms such as Aecom, Balfour Beatty and Laing O’Rourke.
9. Mechanical Engineer
Average salary: $84,190 (£64,060)
Mechanical engineering is a very broad discipline and, at its core, is essentially the design and maintenance of anything that is composed of moving parts. It requires a strong understanding and comprehension of the following key areas:
- dynamics and thermodynamics
- materials science
- structural analysis
It is the most common area of engineering and, as such, it is applicable across all industries and fields on projects and operations of all shapes and sizes. As a result, mechanical engineers are highly employable by almost any large organisation that owns factories or manufacturing plants.
8. Industrial Engineer
Average salary: $84,310 (£64,150)
In a world where businesses are constantly looking to optimise production and manufacturing costs, eliminate wastefulness, and comply with environmental obligations, industrial engineers can be worth their weight in gold.
Tasked with identifying and implementing solutions to these problems, they combine data analysis with hands-on knowledge and awareness of on-the-ground practices, integrating machinery, people, materials and information into their processes. As a result, they need to be as adept in dealing with humans as they do anything mechanical.
7. Biomedical Engineer
Average salary: $85,620 (£65,150)
Biomedical engineering is seen as the bridge between medicine and conventional engineering, utilising advances in biological science to develop machinery and tools that can help diagnose, monitor and treat medical conditions and injuries.
There are many large biomed companies competing in this lucrative market such as Johnson & Johnson and the medical divisions of both Siemens and GE. Additionally, in the UK, there are biomed roles in the NHS.
6. Electrical Engineer
Average salary: $96,270 (£73,250)
Unsurprisingly, electrical engineers are subject matter experts in all things electric, employing their finely tuned skills to a wide variety of industries, roles and locations. They can be responsible for designing and running power stations, developing commercial products or designing and implementing control systems. Basically, if there’s an AC current involved, then it’s likely that an electrical engineer will have had something to do with it.
As a result, electrical engineers are employable in nearly every industry and, as technology advances, so too do their job and salary prospects.
5. Chemical Engineer
Average salary: $98,340 (£74,830)
Although there is a demand in academia and research, chemical engineers typically work for commercial businesses who seek to transform chemicals, materials and energy sources into usable products such as plastics and other synthetics. As well as traditional engineering skills such as science and mathematics, the commercial nature of this job also demands a working knowledge of economics.
There are many large multinational companies that specialise in chemical engineering, including BASF, DowDuPont and Sinopec.
4. Software Engineer
Average salary: $100,080 (£76,160)
Software engineers write, test, implement and update the software code that is used by computers, applications and other digital platforms; as a result, it’s important to possess excellent programming skills as well as an aptitude for problem solving. As we move further into the digital age, software engineer numbers are increasing year-on-year, and it is predicted to be one of the most common and important jobs of the near future.
3. Computer / Hardware Engineer
Average salary: $102,280 (£77,830)
Hardware engineering (not to be confused with software engineering) is a combination of electrical engineering and computer science and is used to build the components that are used in computers, network systems and other commercial products. As our world becomes increasingly digital, computer engineering is emerging as a sought-after and highly valued profession.
2. Aerospace Engineer
Average salary: $109,650 (£83,440)
In a nutshell, aerospace engineering is concerned with the development and maintenance of either aircraft (aeronautical) or spacecraft (astronautical). Due to its complex nature (it’s literally rocket science, after all), it’s usually broken down and divided into further engineering sub-disciplines such as avionics, aerodynamics and propulsion.
Most of the large aircraft manufacturers, such as Boeing and Airbus, offer positions directly, although it is also possible to work for part-specific companies such as GE or Rolls-Royce (who build engines). Many engineers also choose to pursue careers with NASA in the US or the European Space Agency (ESA) in the UK.
1. Petroleum Engineer
Average salary: $128,230 (£97,580)
The discovery and recovery of natural oil resources is perhaps the most lucrative business enterprise in the world. And in such a high-stakes industry, energy companies rely primarily on the expertise of petroleum engineers – experts on the physical behaviour of water, oil and gas – to give them the edge. Their knowledge can identify and estimate the suitability of potential drilling sites.
As a result, petroleum engineers are compensated handsomely by the global energy companies that hire them, including as Sinopec, ExxonMobil and Gazprom.
As you can see, careers in engineering are enormously varied, with the opportunity to work in some fascinating fields and truly make a difference in the way we live. They are also very well paid – especially in the energy and IT sectors, which society is becoming ever reliant on.
So, if you are technically minded and looking for a new career in 2019, then why not consider engineering?
Which engineering field do you want to work in? Let us know in the comments below.
Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 22 March 2019.
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 9 January 2018.