What Types of Engineering Jobs Have the Highest Salary?

EngineeringAlthough it is never wise to choose a career path solely based on income potential, it is important to be aware of the types of engineering jobs that have the highest salary to ensure you are entering a financially rewarding specialty area. As the creators of the world as we know it, engineers have an extremely complex responsibility for designing the structures, systems, and materials that we use on a daily basis. With their innate ability to transform their creative ideas into tangible forms, engineers receive tremendous respect for their work and have a very high value. While most engineering jobs boast a salary that is higher than the national average, the following are the top-paying jobs in engineering that break the six-figure salary mark.

Petroleum Engineering

In order to extract oil and gas in the most profitable way, petroleum engineers are responsible for designing and developing methods for reaching the deposits and older wells deep below the earth’s surface. Often using computer-controlled drilling or fracturing, petroleum engineers ensure that all oil field equipment is installed, operated, and maintained appropriately. Most will work with geologists to better understand the rock formations underground for determining the best drilling methods, designing better drilling equipment, and monitoring extraction operations. With around 38,500 petroleum engineers working around the world, their average annual salary is $149,180. As the highest paid engineering job available today, the top 10% of petroleum engineers make nearly $200,000 each year in oil and gas extraction.

Aerospace Engineering

Using their expertise in the technologies of aviation, aerospace engineers create the designs for airplanes, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. On a typical workday, aerospace engineers will assess project proposals, evaluate designs, develop acceptance criteria for safety standards, inspect malfunctioning aerospace projects, and test prototypes to ensure proper functioning. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 83,000 aerospace engineers employed in the United States earn an average annual salary of $105,450, which is equivalent to $50.70 per hour. Mid-career aerospace engineers with more experience tend to make an even higher yearly wage at $150,680 or more.

Nuclear Engineering

At the forefront of developing uses for nuclear material, nuclear engineers are given the task of developing the processes, systems, and instruments utilized for deriving benefits from nuclear energy or radiation. Many nuclear engineers specialize their expertise in finding industrial or medical uses for radioactive products, including equipment used for healthcare treatments. Nuclear engineers will usually develop nuclear equipment, direct operations for nuclear power plants, write safety standards for handling nuclear waste, test methods of using nuclear material, and examine nuclear accidents. Although there are only 20,400 nuclear engineers employed in the United States, they earn a very high average annual salary of $106,860 with the top 10% bringing home $156,960 or more each year.

Related Resource: Benefits of Getting an MBA

Not only do many types of engineering jobs lead to a mid-career income potential well into the six-figure range, but engineering degrees have the highest starting salary of any other major at $62,100 according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. If you are interested in joining any of these types of engineering jobs that have the highest salary, the best first step is to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a closely related field that has been accredited by the ABET for excellence.