Engineers help solve problems in all facets of our lives. And with so many different specialties and specializations, engineering salaries can widely vary.
Here’s a breakdown of engineer salaries, arranged in alphabetical order by specific field.
What does it take to become a certain type of engineer, and what are the best ways to pay off student loan debt from your engineering degree? Let’s find out.
The list below has salary information for several engineering specialties. It was compiled from information made available by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Also included is general information about each career path and the typical education requirements for each field.
Aerospace engineer salary
Aerospace engineers design vehicles and equipment for space exploration, aeronautical and space application. This includes aircraft, spacecraft, satellites and more.
For an entry-level position as an aerospace engineer, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or a related engineering or science degree.
As of May 2018, the median annual pay for aerospace engineers was $115,220. This is higher than the median salary for all engineers in general, which was $93,080 a year.
Agricultural engineer salary
Agricultural engineers play an important role in our lives. They design equipment and systems to solve agricultural problems, such as pollution and environmental concerns. They also work to develop best practices within the agricultural field for waste disposal, fertilizing, harvesting, storage, climate control and more.
To become an agricultural engineer, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in either agricultural engineering or biological engineering.
The median annual salary for agricultural engineers, as of May 2018, was $77,110. Those who worked for engineering services had a higher median salary at $87,330 a year. Agricultural engineers working for the federal government had a median salary of $86,120 a year.
Biomedical engineer salary
Biomedical engineers combine medical and biological sciences with engineering. Much of their job includes designing equipment, systems and software for the healthcare industry.
Entry-level biomedical engineer jobs require a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or a related engineering degree program, like bioengineering. Some biomedical engineering jobs may also require an advanced degree.
As of May 2018, the median annual wage for biomedical engineers was $88,550, which is lower than the median annual wage of all engineering fields.
Chemical engineer salary
Another popular engineering field is chemical engineering. These engineers regularly use chemistry, along with biology, physics and math. Chemical engineers design equipment, processes and production methods related to chemicals, fuel, drugs, food and various other products. They also develop safety procedures for working with dangerous chemicals.
A bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a related field is needed to become a chemical engineer. Some colleges and universities offer a 5-year program that has both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree upon graduation.
The median annual wage for chemical engineers, as of May 2018, was $104,910. However, the top ten percent of chemical engineers earned more than $169,770. One of the highest median salaries was in the petroleum and coal products manufacturing field, which had a median annual salary of $113,380.
Civil engineer salary
Civil engineers design many of the structures and systems we use or drive past every day. They play a valuable role in society by designing, building and maintaining infrastructures such as roads, buildings, tunnels, bridges and airports. Civil engineers are also involved in developing water supplies and sewer treatment systems.
Civil engineer entry-level jobs require a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering or a related field. Senior positions need an advanced or graduate degree, along with an additional license, depending on the type of position.
Civil engineers had a median annual salary of $86,640 as of May 2018. Federal civil engineers had the highest median salary of any specific civil engineering industry, at $95,380 a year.
Computer hardware engineer salary
If you are reading this article on a computer, tablet or mobile phone, chances are a computer hardware engineer was involved in creating your device. Computer hardware engineers design, build and test computer hardware systems, such as circuit boards, processors, memory devices and routers. These engineers are involved in almost every industry imaginable.
To become a computer hardware engineer, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering at a minimum. Depending on the specific program, an electrical engineering or computer science degree may also suffice. Some computer hardware engineering jobs require a master’s degree in computer engineering or business administration (MBA).
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for computer hardware engineers was $114,600, as of May 2018. Those in the research and development field had a higher median salary of $128,340 a year. The top ten percent of computer hardware engineers had an annual median salary of $172,630.
Electrical engineer salary
Electrical engineering is a popular career field. Engineers in this field design, test and manufacture electrical equipment of all kinds. Some of the products they create or work on include:
- Broadcast and communication systems
- Navigation systems
- Electrical systems for various vehicles
- Home and business electrical equipment
Electrical engineers need a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions. Practical experience can also help secure an electrical engineering job. Some schools offer 5-year hybrid engineering degree programs where you’ll come out with both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
Electrical Engineers had a median annual salary of $96,640, as of May 2018. The top ten percent of electrical engineers earned more than $153,240 a year.
Environmental engineer salary
Environmental engineers focus on solutions to environmental problems around the world. They use principles of engineering, along with biology, soil science and chemistry. Environmental engineers develop systems to improve recycling, waste disposal, pollution control and public health.
Entry-level environmental engineering jobs require a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering. Relevant related degree programs include civil, chemical or general engineering. Some positions within the environmental engineering field may require a graduate degree.
The median annual wage for environmental engineers was $87,620, as of May 2018. This salary is similar to several other engineering fields on our list. Environmental engineers working for the federal government had the highest median salary of any industry, earning $105,410 a year.
Health and safety engineer salary
Health and safety engineers work to keep people safe from illness and injury. They also design systems and procedures to protect property from damage. Health and safety engineers create safety policies, regulations, procedures and processes to ensure safety in all kinds of settings.
To become a health and safety engineer, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in environmental health and safety or a related field. Other engineering disciplines may be acceptable, depending on the specific employer or job.
Health and safety engineers had a median annual salary of $89,130, in May 2018. The highest ten percent of these engineers had a median annual salary of $142,970.
Industrial engineer salary
Industrial engineers create systems for industrial settings that promote efficiency. This includes the integration of machinery, computer software and hardware, materials and people in production processes. You’ll often find industrial engineers in manufacturing or processing settings.
Industrial engineers need a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering to enter the field. Other degrees that may be accepted for industrial engineering jobs include:
- Mechanical engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Manufacturing engineering
- Industrial engineering technology
- General engineering
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for industrial engineers was $87,040, as of May 2018. Engineers working in professional, scientific and technical services had a median annual salary of $94,870. Computer and electronic manufacturing jobs also had a high median salary, of $93,760 a year.
Materials engineer salary
Materials engineers work with a multitude of materials and products in various industries. From computer chips to golf clubs, materials engineers design, create and test products made from materials such as:
A bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering or other related engineering field is required for most materials engineering jobs. Some engineering positions may need a graduate degree.
Materials engineers have one of the higher median annual salaries among all engineering fields. As of May 2018, the median annual salary was $92,390, with the top ten percent of materials engineers earning an annual median salary of $148,110.
Mechanical engineer salary
Mechanical engineers create, test and implement various types of mechanical equipment used in a host of settings. They design tools, machines, engines, sensors and other equipment used by people and businesses every day.
Becoming a mechanical engineer requires a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. Mechanical engineers in the U.S. who sell their services to the public must be licensed.
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for mechanical engineers was $87,370 in May 2018. This is slightly below the median salary of all engineering career fields.
Mining and geological engineer salary
Mining and geological engineers design underground mines and the processes for removing various minerals. They work with miners, manufacturers and other engineers to create mine shafts and tunnels, along with ways to transport materials, like coal and precious metals.
To become a mining and geology engineer, you need to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering program. There are also licensing requirements for becoming this type of engineer, which vary by state. Most states require applicants to pass two exams.
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for mining and geological engineers was $92,250 in May 2018. The highest ten percent of mining and geological engineers had a median annual salary of $151,030.
Nuclear engineer salary
Nuclear engineers create processes and tools for working with nuclear energy and radiation. They work in medical and industrial settings, as well as on ships and spacecraft that use nuclear power sources.
To get an entry-level job in nuclear engineering, you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering. Some jobs require a minimum of a master’s degree or Ph.D.
Nuclear engineers tend to earn more than other engineers. The median annual salary for nuclear engineers in May 2018 was $107,600. The highest ten percent had a median annual salary of $162,360.
Petroleum engineer salary
Petroleum engineers create methods for extracting oil and gas. This includes designing and building equipment for use on land and for offshore oil rigs.
Becoming a petroleum engineer requires at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering. This could be a degree in petroleum engineering or a similar field such as mechanical, civil or chemical engineering.
Petroleum engineers have one of the highest median salaries among engineers. According to the BLS, their median annual salary was $137,170, in May 2018. Those in management positions had an even higher median salary, of $172,570 a year.
Advanced engineering degrees, accreditation and licenses
Although most entry-level engineering jobs only need a bachelor’s degree, some require advanced degrees, such as a master’s or Ph.D. This is especially true for jobs in the following areas:
- Leadership and management
- Research and development
- Postsecondary teaching
Other factors to consider when planning a career in engineering are additional accreditations and licenses.
The majority of engineering jobs, regardless of field, require degrees from ABET-accredited programs. ABET is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, a non-profit, non-governmental organization.
Becoming an engineer in certain fields may require you to pass exams and become a licensed engineer. This includes the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and the Professional Engineering (PE) exam. Requirements for licensing also vary by state.
Take time to check whether you’ll need to acquire a license in the state where you plan to work.
Engineering Student Loan Repayment
If you’ve already earned your degree, engineers have a few options to consider when repaying student loan debt. For federal loans, there are income-driven repayment plans, as well as loan forgiveness options. These options are great if you work in the public sector or have a lower-paying salary.
It’s also possible that you’re eligible for repayment assistance through your employer. Check with your company’s HR department to find out if there’s available assistance and how to qualify.
Student loan refinancing for engineers
Most engineers who’ve graduated with student loan debt should explore available refinancing options. Because most engineering jobs are in the private sector, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) isn’t an option. Also, the amount of debt incurred by engineers is usually lower, unless they’ve also pursued advanced degrees.
If you work in the private sector and your federal student loan debt is less than 1.5 times your income, you should refinance your loans and work to pay them off quickly. Be aware that refinancing federal loans will end access to all federal benefits, like PSLF and income-driven repayment plans.
Refinancing can save thousands of dollars over the life of your loans. By securing a lower interest rate and better terms, you’ll end up paying much less interest on your loans.
If your employment is stable and your credit is in good shape, refinancing your student loans will be your best bet in the long run.