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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • The high­est pay­ing engi­neer­ing degrees includes dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines such as Aero­space, Soft­ware, and Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing.
  • These posi­tions com­mand attrac­tive salaries mak­ing engi­neer­ing a lucra­tive career choice.
  • Engi­neers work in diverse indus­tries, from space explo­ration to cre­at­ing every­day products.
  • The high pay is asso­ci­at­ed with the com­plex skills and knowl­edge required in these engi­neer­ing fields.

Engi­neers are respon­si­ble for the cre­ation of just about every­thing peo­ple touch in their dai­ly lives. They cre­ate the engines that go into the cars, the toast­er on the kitchen counter, and even the HVAC sys­tems for the home and office. There are many types of high­est pay­ing engi­neer­ing degrees. With that being said, the engi­neer­ing majors with the high­est pay make it worth­while for some­one to study engi­neer­ing as a career while earn­ing a sat­is­fac­to­ry salary.

Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in July 2022 and updat­ed in Jan­u­ary 2024.

Engi­neer­ing is a field that com­bines cre­ativ­i­ty with a host of STEM skills in order to cre­ate some­thing that works as intend­ed. It’s also used to: 

  • help main­tain the environment
  • find new uses for chemicals
  • improve exist­ing process­es for increased efficiency
  • ensure that a prod­uct or process is safe for all to use 

Just about every indus­try needs an engi­neer to aid with the design and cre­ation of new prod­ucts, improve exist­ing ones, and find solu­tions to prob­lems as they arise.

The 4 Main Engineering Categories

There are four main cat­e­gories of engineering: 

  • Chem­i­cal
  • Civ­il
  • Elec­tri­cal
  • Mechan­i­cal

Each main cat­e­go­ry has mul­ti­ple sub­dis­ci­plines that offer a stu­dent the oppor­tu­ni­ty to find an area of engi­neer­ing that suits their apti­tudes and inter­ests the best and make a life-long career out of it. Many sub­dis­ci­plines of engi­neer­ing over­lap with one anoth­er and can open up the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work in anoth­er area of engi­neer­ing or col­lab­o­rate with oth­ers to expand one’s own knowl­edge base. 

When asked “Which engi­neer­ing has the high­est salary?”, the answer is usu­al­ly that it depends on the types of engi­neer­ing and salaries asso­ci­at­ed with it. How­ev­er, the field of engi­neer­ing as a whole is not like­ly to ever go away, or not be in demand, as engi­neers are the cre­ative forces behind the cre­ation of things that make up the world around us.

So what are the high­est-paid engi­neer­ing degrees? What type of engi­neer makes the most mon­ey? Earn­ing a bachelor’s degree in engi­neer­ing is just the first step towards a career full of growth and earn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. Here’s a look at the 10 high­est-pay­ing bach­e­lors in engineering.

1. Aerospace Engineer

highest paying engineering degrees

An Aero­space Engi­neer works in the avi­a­tion and space indus­tries design­ing things such as satel­lites, com­mer­cial and pri­vate air­craft, rock­ets, and the sys­tems asso­ci­at­ed with their oper­a­tions. Work­ing as an aero­space engi­neer means enter­ing one of the two main branches: 

  • Aero­nau­ti­cal Engineering
  • Astro­nau­ti­cal Engineering

Aero­nau­ti­cal engi­neer­ing focus­es on atmos­pher­ic flight where­as astro­nau­ti­cal engi­neer­ing involves space flight. Both branch­es over­lap each oth­er which means some­one who works in one field can eas­i­ly tran­si­tion to the other.

An Aero­space Engi­neer can find them­selves work­ing on the design, devel­op­ment, con­struc­tion, test­ing, and final pro­duc­tion of all types of space and air­craft. They can work in the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors, work­ing in places such as: 

  • labs
  • sys­tems suppliers
  • man­u­fac­tur­ers
  • air­lines
  • research and development
  • uni­ver­si­ties

This is anoth­er one of the high­est pay­ing engi­neer­ing jobs in terms of aver­age, but the pay can quick­ly increase with salary and tak­ing advan­tage of job opportunities.

Aver­age Salary: $126,880

2. Software Engineer

A Soft­ware Engi­neer com­bines their knowl­edge of pro­gram­ming lan­guages and engi­neer­ing prin­ci­ples to cre­ate soft­ware archi­tec­ture for a vari­ety of uses and pur­pos­es. They cre­ate pro­grams and apps for any­thing that needs com­put­er hard­ware to oper­ate and per­form tasks. 

A soft­ware engi­neer can also be tasked with tak­ing old, out-of-date pro­grams and build­ing off their frame­work for an update or to build some­thing com­plete­ly new. Oth­er areas where a soft­ware engi­neer can find work include pro­gram­ming for robots, video games, sys­tems engi­neers, and mobile apps.

The Soft­ware Engi­neer career is almost at the top of the list in terms of the high­est-pay­ing engi­neer­ing jobs due to the fact they have to be: 

  • flu­ent in mul­ti­ple pro­gram­ming languages
  • under­stand the phys­i­cal con­struc­tion of computers
  • under­stand the lim­i­ta­tions of com­put­er hard­ware when it comes to pro­cess­ing the code they cre­ate and its ulti­mate use

Soft­ware engi­neers are in high demand and their aver­age salary reflects that fact.

Aver­age Salary: $124,200

3. Chemical Engineer

highest paying engineering degrees

It could be said that the chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing degree is the penul­ti­mate STEM degree due to the fact it combines: 

  • Biol­o­gy
  • Eco­nom­ics
  • Math­e­mat­ics
  • Chem­istry
  • Physics

Chem­i­cal engi­neers are involved in the cre­ation and improve­ment of foods, med­ica­tions, fuel, plas­tics, and many oth­er prod­ucts used in dai­ly life. A chem­i­cal engi­neer takes raw mate­ri­als and devis­es ways to turn them into some­thing use­ful. The role also includes fac­to­ry and plant design, mon­i­tor­ing safe­ty prac­tices, and mod­el­ing trans­port phe­nom­e­na that affect how mate­ri­als react and move through a man­u­fac­tur­ing process.

Jobs for chem­i­cal engi­neers are most­ly found in the oil and ener­gy indus­tries, but oth­er fields that involve the use or cleanup of chem­i­cals are start­ing to tap into chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing. The phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and biotech­nol­o­gy fields also offer plen­ty of job oppor­tu­ni­ties, as does biotech­nol­o­gy. Nan­otech­nol­o­gy is anoth­er area of employ­ment for chem­i­cal engineers.

Aver­age Salary: $106,260

4. Electrical Engineer

Elec­tri­cal engi­neers design lay­outs for just about any­thing that requires the deliv­ery of elec­tric­i­ty from start to fin­ish. Their job is to: 

  • under­stand how elec­tric­i­ty is gen­er­at­ed and moved
  • fig­ure out how to apply it to a giv­en use
  • cre­ate a lay­out for its transmission 
  • make sure the design has suf­fi­cient capac­i­ty for the intend­ed use

The elec­tri­cal engi­neer also has to make sure that safe­ty reg­u­la­tions are observed at all times, and that the fin­ished prod­uct is safe for use by the end user.

The Elec­tri­cal Engi­neer is one of the high­est-pay­ing engi­neer­ing degrees on its own, but it also has var­i­ous sub-dis­ci­plines that are also some of the high­est-pay­ing engi­neer­ing jobs. Some of the sub-dis­ci­plines include: 

  • Elec­tron­ics
  • Micro­elec­tron­ics
  • Sig­nal Processing
  • Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions
  • Instru­men­ta­tion

These types of engi­neer­ing and salaries are based on the elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing degree but stand on their own in terms of engi­neer­ing roles and areas of employment.

Aver­age Salary: $104,610

5. Environmental Engineer

highest paying engineering degrees

The job of an Envi­ron­men­tal Engi­neer is to apply engi­neer­ing prin­ci­ples to envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems in search of a solu­tion. They study a giv­en envi­ron­men­tal prob­lem, such as: 

  • air pol­lu­tion
  • design munic­i­pal waste­water treat­ment plants
  • waste­water recla­ma­tion systems
  • keep track of envi­ron­men­tal improve­ment efforts
  • make sure that a work­site has the prop­er per­mits, plans, and stan­dard oper­at­ing pro­ce­dures in place

While this role is one of the low­er-pay­ing jobs in the engi­neer­ing field, it does have a lot of growth poten­tial due to the fact that site reme­di­a­tion, the need for fresh drink­ing water, and pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment from fur­ther pol­lu­tion are becom­ing a neces­si­ty as opposed to an after­thought. Both the pri­vate and pub­lic sec­tors are going to need envi­ron­men­tal engi­neers to aid with these projects.

Aver­age Salary: $96,530

6. Industrial Engineer

The posi­tion of an Indus­tri­al Engi­neer is one of both design­er and prob­lem solver in that the role can con­sist of design­ing manufacturing/production facil­i­ties and/or improv­ing exist­ing oper­a­tions for max­i­mum efficiency. 

Some of the tasks an indus­tri­al engi­neer is respon­si­ble for include: 

  • the lay­out of equip­ment in a fac­to­ry to ensure effi­cient trans­fer from line to line
  • infor­ma­tion sys­tems such as a serv­er facility
  • find­ing inef­fi­cien­cies in an exist­ing pro­duc­tion system
  • devel­op­ing man­age­ment con­trol sys­tems that aid with finan­cial plan­ning and cost control

As the name of the dis­ci­pline sug­gests, jobs for an indus­tri­al engi­neer are found in indus­tri­al oper­a­tions. The engi­neer is the per­son who’s respon­si­ble for keep­ing a man­u­fac­tur­ing or indus­tri­al oper­a­tion mov­ing smooth­ly and find­ing ways to max­i­mize oper­at­ing effi­cien­cies as well as reduce costs. 

They also work with cus­tomers to keep them updat­ed on progress and make sure that a fin­ished prod­uct meets the cus­tomer’s expect­ed standards.

Aver­age Salary: $96,350

7. Mechanical Engineer

highest paying engineering degrees

A mechan­i­cal engi­neer is some­one who cre­ates machin­ery that per­forms a spe­cif­ic func­tion, such as a car engine. Their job is to design, build, test, and pre­pare a piece of machin­ery for use on its own or as part of a larg­er machine. 

Mechan­i­cal engi­neer­ing is one of the old­est forms of engi­neer­ing, and as such, focus­es on projects that require syn­chro­niza­tion for their oper­a­tion as opposed to rely­ing on elec­tron­ics. It uses math­e­mat­ics, physics, and mate­ri­als sci­ence to pro­duce items such as: 

  • HVAC equip­ment
  • indus­tri­al equipment
  • med­ical devices
  • weapons
  • and more

Mechan­i­cal engi­neers typ­i­cal­ly find employ­ment in fields where indus­tri­al design and man­u­fac­tur­ing skills are need­ed. Archi­tec­tur­al firms hire mechan­i­cal engi­neers who have exper­tise in design­ing HVAC sys­tems, while the aero­space indus­try needs them for the design and con­struc­tion of the var­i­ous types of engines and oth­er mov­ing parts used in the final product.

Aver­age Salary: $96,310

8. Project Engineer

The role of a project engi­neer is sim­i­lar to that of a project man­ag­er, except that the project engi­neer over­sees all the aspects of design­ing or rebuild­ing a man­u­fac­tur­ing or pro­cess­ing facil­i­ty. Tasks can include: 

  • cre­at­ing a plan that out­lines the start and brings the project to the desired outcome
  • hir­ing contractors
  • sourc­ing materials
  • keep­ing the project on schedule

The project engi­neer liais­es with all stake­hold­ers on a project to keep them informed of the cur­rent sta­tus of all projects relat­ed to engi­neer­ing. They also make sure that safe­ty is observed at all times.

The project engi­neer is one of the high­est pay­ing engi­neer­ing jobs due to the fact it com­bines engi­neer­ing and busi­ness man­age­ment skills. Jobs for this role are found pri­mar­i­ly in con­struc­tion as it focus­es pri­mar­i­ly on man­ag­ing the con­struc­tion and out­fit­ting of pro­duc­tion lines. 

How­ev­er, the title also applies to man­ag­ing the upgrad­ing of an exist­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ty or work­ing in the fac­to­ry itself as a project engi­neer in a man­age­r­i­al position.

Aver­age Salary: $95,370

9. Civil Engineer

highest paying engineering degrees

A Civ­il Engi­neer over­sees the design and con­struc­tion of pub­lic works and infra­struc­ture projects. They’re respon­si­ble for eval­u­at­ing a site for its intend­ed pur­pose, design­ing the archi­tec­ture that’s going to go in place, and mon­i­tor­ing the con­struc­tion of their design. 

Civ­il engi­neers are usu­al­ly found work­ing for gov­ern­ment agen­cies that are respon­si­ble for the con­struc­tion of: 

  • bridges
  • road­ways
  • sew­er systems
  • pub­lic buildings
  • and more

It’s the duty of the civ­il engi­neer to cre­ate and deliv­er the vital infra­struc­ture need­ed for every­one to live their dai­ly lives as eas­i­ly as possible.

While most civ­il engi­neer­ing jobs are asso­ci­at­ed with the pub­lic sec­tor, they are also found in pri­vate indus­try as well. One of the major duties of a civ­il engi­neer is cal­cu­lat­ing loads and how well a mate­r­i­al can with­stand car­ry­ing that load. Pri­vate indus­tries such as auto­mo­tive, ship­build­ing, aero­space, and con­struc­tion will hire civ­il engi­neers and offer high­er pay than the pub­lic sector.

Aver­age Salary: $89,940

10. Manufacturing Engineer

A man­u­fac­tur­ing engi­neer is involved with cre­at­ing a man­u­fac­tur­ing process from the ground up. That involves under­stand­ing the prop­er­ties of the raw mate­r­i­al and how it can be manip­u­lat­ed into an end product. 

They plan out how a prod­uct is to be made, find or cre­ate the nec­es­sary tool­ing and machines, and devel­op the man­u­fac­tur­ing process. They then inte­grate every­thing into one seam­less pro­duc­tion line. The man­u­fac­tur­ing engi­neer is also tasked with keep­ing every­thing with­in the bud­get. Once the pro­duc­tion line is fin­ished, they teach oth­ers how to prop­er­ly use the equip­ment and gen­er­ate con­sis­tent results.

Most jobs for man­u­fac­tur­ing engi­neers are found in the indus­tri­al fields that require an engi­neer to cre­ate, build, mon­i­tor, and main­tain pro­duc­tion lines. These roles are found in: 

  • large-scale bak­eries
  • mold-mak­ing shops
  • tex­tile production
  • met­al cast­ing facilities

A man­u­fac­tur­ing engi­neer can also find work doing noth­ing but mon­i­tor­ing the out­put of pro­duc­tion lines and ensur­ing that the dai­ly out­put meets expec­ta­tions, or adjust­ing the pro­duc­tion of the machines when necessary.

Aver­age Salary: $76,151

Which Engineering Branch is Best for the Future?

Engi­neer­ing is known for high annu­al salaries. The best high­est pay­ing engi­neer­ing degrees that are best for the future include:

  • Aero­space
  • Chem­i­cal
  • Robot­ics
  • Envi­ron­men­tal
  • Bio­chem­i­cal
  • Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion
  • Elec­tron­ics
  • Bio­med­ical
  • Elec­tri­cal
  • Geo­log­i­cal
  • Marine
  • Nuclear Ener­gy
  • Earth

These are the best types of engi­neer­ing and salaries that guar­an­tee life­long employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties and are rel­a­tive­ly future-proof as long as you keep up with cur­rent trends and don’t let your edu­ca­tion stagnate.

No one can pre­dict which engi­neer­ing degree will be best for the future, but it’s pos­si­ble to get a good idea by observ­ing the needs of the world at large. The high­est-paid engi­neer will be the one in the most demand.

  • Petro­le­um Engi­neers (and nat­ur­al gas)
  • Com­put­er Hard­ware Engineers
  • Data Engi­neers
  • Mate­ri­als Engineers

Which of the best engineering jobs has the highest salary potential? 

The high-pay­ing engi­neer­ing degrees are ones that track with the cur­rent needs of soci­ety. One such exam­ple is envi­ron­men­tal engi­neer­ing. One of the high­est pay­ing engi­neer­ing jobs, envi­ron­men­tal engi­neer­ing in the strictest sense is one of the old­est forms of engi­neer­ing as it was cre­at­ed to help shape the envi­ron­ment to society’s needs. 

Now it’s also being used to help make bet­ter use of eco­log­i­cal­ly sen­si­tive sites and help with clean­ing up pol­lu­tion. Over time, an envi­ron­men­tal engi­neer’s medi­an salary makes it the high­est-paid engi­neer­ing field due to the amount of cleanup required to keep the envi­ron­ment healthy.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics (BLS) shows that a master’s degree in engi­neer­ing can get pro­fes­sion­al engi­neers to the high­est engi­neer­ing salary poten­tial. You can find a master’s engi­neer­ing pro­gram online.

What Can You Do with an Engineering Degree Besides Engineering?

The under­pin­ning skills of an engi­neer­ing degree trans­late well into oth­er indus­tries. An engi­neer­ing career may not be your final career path. Engi­neers fre­quent­ly find the high­est pay­ing engi­neer­ing degrees in fields that include:

  • Finance
  • Com­put­er sci­ence and com­put­er systems
  • Soft­ware development
  • Project man­age­ment
  • Con­struc­tion project management
  • Pub­lic policy
  • Eco­nom­ics
  • Urban plan­ning
  • Mar­ket­ing
  • Health­care

These are just a few of the careers that are suit­ed to some­one with an engi­neer­ing degree. Engi­neers are taught to use their ana­lyt­i­cal skills to solve prob­lems and find new ways of doing things, using exist­ing meth­ods to make some­thing work bet­ter, or improv­ing exist­ing meth­ods for peak performance. 

These skills are invalu­able in many indus­tries that require some­one who can ana­lyze and apply their find­ings to come to a solu­tion. Some­one who wants to shift their career from a branch of engi­neer­ing to anoth­er pro­fes­sion­al field will find the change easy and still man­age to earn a high salary.

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