6 Hot Jobs for Engineering Degrees | The best graduate schools

A bachelor’s degree is not required for most engineering positions, but it is beneficial, especially for people interested in conducting research in a company or working as a university professor.

Getting a master’s or doctorate in engineering can lead to higher salaries, specialist skill development, and career advancement.

“While undergraduate degrees provide a general overview of the field with some opportunities to dig a little deeper, a masters program really allows them to go one step further,” says Doreen Edwards, principal of Kate Gleason College of Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. “Students will receive more information and learn more skills related to a specific topic and take their analytical and critical thinking skills to the next level.”

There are two options for degrees: an engineering master’s degree and a science master’s degree in engineering. The curriculum varies by degree program, but a master’s in science typically revolves around research, while a master’s in engineering focuses more on projects and developing skills relevant to the workforce.

“There is a lot of overlap, so it depends on the individual and their career aspirations,” says Kristina Ropella, dean of Opus College of Engineering at Marquette University in Wisconsin.

Regardless of whether a student chooses to pursue a master’s degree or not, engineering graduates are highly sought after.

Among all engineers, the average projected job growth rate between 2020 and 2030 is 7%, with the median salary in 2020 being $ 96,310, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is slightly lower than the national average growth rate of 8%, but more than double the average annual wage of all U.S. occupations, which is $ 41,950.

Here are six engineering career paths that demonstrate faster-than-average job growth rates or offer a well-paid salary. While a college degree isn’t always required for these jobs, having one would likely give you an edge.

Hot jobs for engineering graduates

  • Software developer
  • Computer and information research scientist
  • Industrial engineer
  • Chemical engineer
  • Aerospace engineer
  • Petroleum engineer

Software developer

Given the popularity of technology and artificial intelligence, software developers are needed in nearly every industry, says Luay Nakhleh, a professor of computer science and dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University in Texas.

In 2020, there were more than 1.8 million jobs for software developers, analysts and software quality assurance testers. That number is expected to increase by 22% from 2020 to 2030, according to the BLS.

“Nowadays the world works with software,” says Nakhleh, so the growth in this area “is not surprising.”

Software developers design and build software to meet user needs, while software quality assurance analysts and testers implement tests to identify software problems. Not only are these jobs expected to grow, they are also well paid. The average annual salary for software developers, analysts, and quality assurance testers was $ 110,140 in 2020, BLS reported.

Computer and information research scientist

Heavy reliance on technology and the Internet has also led to growth in related fields, including computer scientists and information research. Employment in this area is expected to grow 22% over the next decade, with 40,200 jobs expected in 2030, according to the BLS.

Computer and information research scientists develop solutions and models for addressing cyber problems, many of which work for the federal government. The median annual salary in 2020 was $ 126,830, about $ 36,000 higher than the median for all IT occupations, BLS reported.

Many employers require at least a master’s degree in computer science or a related field, such as computer engineering, but some prefer candidates with a doctorate.

Industrial engineer

Consumers and businesses alike have struggled with supply chain problems recently. Industrial engineers, who aim to increase efficiency in workforce processes and eliminate the waste of raw materials, money and time in manufacturing, are involved in these challenges. Most work in the manufacturing sector, in sectors such as transportation, computers, electronic products and machinery.

Although the average annual salary of industrial engineers, $ 88,950, is slightly lower than the average for all engineers, BLS expects the number of jobs in this industry to increase by 14% between 2020 and 2030.

Rather than pursuing industrial engineering as an undergraduate, many start in other disciplines, such as electrical or mechanical engineering, experts say.

“Students take their technical foundation and add to it this hot topic that is needed in the industry,” says Ed Hensel, associate dean for research and graduate studies at RIT. “That cross-fertilization between undergraduates in one field and graduates in another field is becoming more and more popular.”

Chemical engineer

Chemical engineers play a role in the current transition to renewable energy, which is leading to more jobs, experts say. Employment of BLS projects will grow by 9% by 2030, to 28,700 jobs.

Individuals in this discipline use concepts from chemistry, biology, mathematics, and physics to solve problems related to the production or use of products, such as fuel, food, and drugs. The median salary for chemical engineers was $ 108,540 in 2020, with the highest-paid area of ​​oil and coal products manufacturing, according to the BLS.

Aerospace engineer

With the rise in commercial space flights, such as the recent launch of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin, and the demand for more fuel-efficient airplanes, there is a need for aerospace engineers.

Specializing in aeronautical or astronautical engineering, aerospace engineers design and create prototypes for aircraft, missiles, satellites and spacecraft. A security clearance may be required for national defense related projects.

The rate of job growth is projected to be on par with other U.S. occupations, with 66,500 positions expected by 2030. But the median salary in 2020, $ 118,610, is nearly three times the national median for all U.S. occupations, according to BLS data.

Petroleum engineer

Petroleum engineers design methods for extracting oil and gas from subsurface fields or older wells. They work with specialists to learn about the geological formation of the rocks before designing and implementing the drilling plan.

The average annual pay for petroleum engineers – who frequently travel to drilling sites and wells – was $ 137,330 in 2020, well above the median salary for all engineering disciplines, according to the BLS.

In 2020, there were 28,500 oil engineering jobs, of which over a third were in the oil and gas extraction sector. Over the next decade, the discipline is expected to experience average job growth, BLS data indicate.

“It’s a stable sector because the world runs on energy and we always need energy,” says Nakhleh. “Prices can go up or down and that has an impact on hiring. But overall, it’s a segment that won’t go away anytime soon, even when it comes to an energy transition” away from fossil fuels and oil.

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