Highest Paying Engineering Careers | Salary and Outlook 2023

Written by Katy Mcwhirter
Published on March 27, 2023 · Updated on April 8, 2023

Highest Paying Engineering Careers | Salary and Outlook 2023

Written by Katy Mcwhirter
Published on March 27, 2023 · Updated on April 8, 2023

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for engineering occupations will grow by 6% between 2020 to 2030, creating nearly 150,000 new positions by the end of the decade. The pay for these occupations averaged $83,160 as of May 2020 – far above the average salary of $41,950 for all occupations.

Prospective students considering an engineering degree can rest assured that following this path will result in an above-average salary and job growth over the coming decade. Keep reading to learn more about the highest paying engineering careers currently on the market, how they’re expected to expand, what they pay, and how much education is required.

Highest Paying Engineering Careers

1. Petroleum Engineers

These professionals spend their days devising new methods for bringing oil and gas deposits up to the surface from underground. They look for ways to create new equipment that can aid in extraction, with safety always at the forefront of their designs. They may also oversee the installation and maintenance of equipment to ensure it is used properly.

Petroleum engineers earned median annual wages of $137,330 as of May 2020, though those working in management positions brought home $167,780 during the same year. Individuals who worked in support activities for mining made the lowest wages at $108,190 for the year.
While the price of oil greatly affects the number of petroleum engineers required for extractions, the BLS projects that jobs for these professionals will grow by approximately 8% between 2020 and 2030, or about the average across all occupations. All told, 2,200 new positions should be created by the end of the decade.
All positions require petroleum engineers to possess a bachelor’s degree in petroleum, chemical, mechanical, or civil engineering. These programs place a strong emphasis on coursework devoted to the study of thermodynamics, geology, and other relevant topics. Some candidates may decide to pursue a master’s degree as well.

2. Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers design and develop the components needed to keep computers and other technologies running smoothly, including:

  • Routers
  • Networks
  • Processors
  • Circuit boards
  • Data devices

These professionals create blueprints for their designs, oversee the development process, and test for any issues before making modifications. 

Computer hardware engineers working as of May 2020 received median yearly wages of $119,560. Those in the highest 10% of earners commanded salaries above and beyond $192,100. Meanwhile, computer hardware engineers in the bottom 10% brought home just $70,100 that same year.
Statisticians at the BLS believe jobs will continue to be created for these professionals, as more and more household devices rely on hardware to make them “smart” (e.g., refrigerators, cars, medical tools). That said, growth may be slow. The BLS projects a 2% increase in roles between 2020 to 2030, resulting in 1,000 new positions.
Completing a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, computer science, or electrical engineering from an accredited program satisfies the hiring requirements of most employers. Hiring managers look for candidates who graduated from ABET-accredited programs.

3. Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers use their knowledge of design and manufacturing protocols to create new air and space crafts, missiles, satellites, and other aerospace products. They must carefully select materials, create schematics for their designs, and ensure their designs meet both safety and financial protocols. After getting the all-clear, they create their designs and test them to ensure they meet quality standards.

Working as an aerospace engineer netted an annual median salary of $118,610 as of May 2020. Those working in navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing earned the highest salaries at $125,710, while those who took up generalist positions in engineering services earned the least at $112,790.
With more aircraft being designed to address pollution and efficiency concerns, the need for aerospace engineers should remain strong across the decade and beyond. The BLS projects that jobs will grow by 8% by 2030, creating 5,100 new jobs along the way.
To work as an aerospace engineer, you will need at minimum a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, aerospace systems, or a related topic. If working for a government entity on sensitive designs, you may also need to receive security clearance and show proof of U.S. citizenship. Some learners decide to pursue a master’s degree after a few years to move into a managerial position.

4. Nuclear Engineer

Nuclear engineers use their knowledge of both research and development to find new ways of using nuclear energy and radiation in beneficial ways. By designing equipment that can harness nuclear power and radioactive materials, nuclear engineers are able to further the field and create new devices and equipment.

As of May 2020, nuclear engineers received median annual salaries of $116,140. Working in scientific research and development services seems to net the highest wages at $139,580. Conversely, working in manufacturing services offered the lowest salary at $96,630.
As more utilities providers and companies look to renewable energy for viable solutions, jobs for nuclear engineers are projected to constrict by 8% in the coming decade. While there will still be approximately 900 openings of existing jobs each year, overall, the field is expected to lose around 1,500 jobs by the end of the decade.
As with other engineering positions, nuclear engineers need at least a bachelor’s degree. Common pathways include nuclear engineering, mathematics, or other engineering-related topics. While entry-level positions accept bachelor’s degrees, advanced positions may require a master’s degree or even a Ph.D.

5. Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers bring together elements of math, chemistry, physics, and biology to produce products. Whether working in food and drug development, petroleum and coal, or other in-demand areas, these professionals test and develop new manufacturing processes, enact safety protocols, and utilize chemical processes to achieve the desired result.

Working as a chemical engineer meant earning a median wage of $108,540 as of May 2020. Chemical engineers at the top of their game received salaries over $168,960, while those just starting out or in low-paying jobs received less than $68,430 during the same time period.
The BLS projects that jobs for chemical engineers will grow by approximately 9% over the coming decade, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. In addition to 1,800 existing jobs opening each year due to retirement or transfers, approximately 2,400 new positions should be added by 2030.
Chemical engineers need at least a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, chemistry, or a related subject to find an entry-level position. Completing a graduate degree, such as a master’s or Ph.D., provides opportunities for upper management positions as well as research and academic roles.

6. Electrical and Electronics Engineers

These professionals enjoy access to many different career avenues. While electrical engineers oversee the development and manufacturing of electrical equipment such as radars, communication systems, and generators, electronics engineers focus on the design of components. They must also create procedures for both testing and maintaining the products they create.

Median wages for electrical and electronics engineers stood at $100,830 as of May 2020, though individuals working in research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences received closer to $116,050. Similarly, those in semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing received $107,680 in 2020.
Jobs for electrical and electronics engineers are projected to expand by 7% between 2020 and 2030, leading to the creation of more than 20,000 new positions by the end of the decade. At the same time, these positions should see a turnover of nearly 23,000 positions each year due to individuals moving to different jobs or exiting the workforce. 
In addition to completing a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, electronics engineering, or a closely related topic, many employers look for candidates who completed internships and/or cooperatives while in school. They also prioritize candidates who attended an ABET-accredited program.

7. Materials Engineers

Whether designing the next generation of titanium golf clubs or finding innovative ways to use existing materials, materials engineers create products based on their specifications. They also consult with clients and supervisors to identify needs, draw up blueprints for new designs, and manage the testing procedures to bring the product to the usage stage.

Materials engineers received median annual wages of $95,640 in 2020, but the amount you earn can depend on the industry in which you work. Those in research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences received salaries of $107,210, while those working in primary metal manufacturing received salaries closer to $85,180.
More than 25,000 materials engineers currently work through the United States, and this figure is projected to rise to more than 27,000 by 2030 – leading to the creation of 2,100 new jobs. Additionally, about 1,800 positions will turn over each year, leading to opportunities for graduates to get their foot in the door.
Completing a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering or materials science from an ABET-accredited program is the first step in becoming a professional in this field. Some employers hiring for upper-level or management positions may look for candidates with a master’s degree, while those with a Ph.D. qualify for research and academic positions.

8. Health and Safety Engineers

Health and safety engineers spend their days designing products and systems that keep people safe from injuries and illness. They stay up to date on state and federal health and safety regulations and industry standards, review existing engineering plans to ensure they meet safety requirements, and identify any potential hazards with designs.

Health and safety engineers received median yearly wages of $94,240 in 2020, with those in the top echelons of the discipline receiving more than $144,800. Those working in engineering services typically earn the highest wages at $103,160, while those who choose to work in construction received $81,850 last year.
Jobs for health and safety engineers should grow by approximately 6% over the decade, creating 1,500 new jobs in addition to an existing 24,100 positions. Approximately 1,700 jobs for health and safety engineers will turn over each year, leading to more opportunities for new graduates to start their careers.
The majority of health and safety engineers hold a bachelor’s degree in environmental health and safety, systems engineering, or electrical, chemical, industrial, or mechanical engineering. Students can also find master’s and doctoral degrees in related subjects if they want to continue progressing their careers.

9. Mining and Geological Engineers

As their titles suggest, mining and geological engineers create mines according to safety protocols and industry regulations. These mines are then used to extract minerals and metals. Whether creating an open or underground mine, these engineers must design both the pathways for workers and materials to travel while also ensuring everything remains safe – both for miners and the environment.

While mining and geological engineers earned median annual wages of $93,800 in 2020, it’s important to recognize that not all salaries in this field are created equally – especially when it comes to the industry. Those working in oil and gas extraction earned far above the median salary, bringing home $138,380. Meanwhile, those who decided to pursue jobs in metal ore mining or general engineering services received less than $89,000.
Jobs for mining and geological engineers are projected to grow by 4% between 2020 and 2030. All told, some 200 new positions could be added to an existing 6,300 roles. Due to professionals retiring or taking other jobs, the field could see about 400 existing jobs opening each year until the end of the decade.
Students must complete an ABET-accredited bachelor’s degree in mining engineering or geological engineering. These programs tend to be quite rare given that it’s a niche field, so you may need to look at several schools before finding one that works with your needs.

10. Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers

Bringing together both engineering and scientific principles, bioengineers and biomedical engineers design a wide variety of devices, software, and equipment that can be used in medical settings. For instance, they may design prosthetics for patients missing limbs, or they may develop machinery and applications that make diagnoses more streamlined. 

These professionals received median annual wages of $92,620 in 2020, while those in the top 10% commanded salaries in excess of $149,440. Industries with the highest median wages include navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing at $104,050. Colleges, universities, and professional schools, meanwhile, paid only $71,820.
The BLS projects that jobs for bioengineers and biomedical engineers will grow from 19,300 currently to 20,500 by 2030. In addition to 1,100 new roles, approximately 1,400 positions will turn over each year between now and 2030. 
Bioengineers and biomedical engineers enter the field via a spectrum of undergraduate, ABET-accredited degrees. In addition to traditional pathways in bioengineering or biomedical engineering, students may also pursue degrees in mechanical or electrical engineering.