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Top Paying Careers in Engineering

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If you’re looking for high-paying jobs, the tech industry could very well be where you’ll find the most of them. But as a field, engineering commands some of the highest-paying jobs in the world, and whether you’re an engineer in tech or in a different industry, you’re likely to be commanding a significant paycheck.

While the U.S. Department of Labor releases surveys regarding salary every now and then, to take a look at the top paying careers in engineering, we’re using the data provided by the IEEE (The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) which was released in December of 2015. It covered over 12,000 organization members and accounted for bonuses.

The median salary across all engineering jobs was approximately $110,000, with many salaries earning well above that number. But which were the top payers? Here’s the full breakdown:

Petroleum Engineering

Experienced petroleum engineers can make in excess of $180,000. But, why so high compared to other engineering jobs?

A key problem in this and other engineering sectors is that a good deal of the current workforce is retiring, leaving employment gaps with no well-trained individuals to fill. The increased demand has leveraged salaries upwards both nationally and internationally. But a key issue is degrees and training– relatively few universities offer targeted courses in fossil fuels engineering, meaning the bottleneck happens in two key areas.

Aerospace and Satellite Engineering

Experienced aerospace and satellite engineers can earn upwards of $150,000 per year. And it doesn’t take much mental effort to understand why!

Even though government-funded aerospace programs have been on the decline for some time, privately-funded aerospace and satellite engineering has taken off and more than covers the gap. Often, it’s manufacturers of these kinds of products which employ engineers, though one can also find work with the government or military, or find work as a consultant or with a wholesaler.

Computer & Software Engineering

Computer and software engineers intersect at two valuable industries: tech and engineering. Most experienced computer or software engineers can command over $120,000 per year in salary, but there’s a bit of a catch. It’s often easier to be trained in computer engineering than many other engineering fields, so it’s possible that an influx of employees in the future could cause downward fluctuation in salaries.

Computer and software engineers may do things like design specialty computers (the world’s very few quantum computers certainly employed many computer engineers), and other specialty hardware systems, such as for large-scale equipment. Software engineers create software applications for particular purposes, and especially with the rising tide of machine learning applications, may have more salary and job growth opportunities than hardware engineers.

Chemical Engineering

An experienced chemical engineer can make in excess of $150,000 per year. Most chemical engineers are employed in research or manufacturing, particularly in medical fields such as drug research and manufacturing.

That said, many chemical engineers are often employed in technical, fashion, and other fields. In particular, biomedical chemical engineering has a strong job market that is expected only to grow in the future. Despite the decline of government-funded biomedical research in recent decades, privately-funded biomedical chemical research has grown by leaps and bounds, and shows every indication of continuing that trend.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a high-paying career, you could do much worse than to look for one in the engineering industry! There are several engineering jobs that command on the high end of six figure incomes, and the median income is still six figures: far, far better than the U.S. national average. It’s also true that engineering jobs often offer a lot of opportunities for advancement, and many will continue to have high demand far into the future.

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