The world's top 20 richest engineers come from a variety of backgrounds. If you search for the highest-paid jobs or what industry will earn you more money you would definitely find engineering at the top of any list. Scroll down and see for yourself – engineers do indeed become wealthy! So who are the top 20 richest engineers in the world? Let's have a look.
None of us should be surprised about the STEM revolution that has taken place over the last few decades. Some contributors to this revolution have been somewhat more proactive than others, however. Five out of the top ten of the world's richest are engineers. Anyone looking for a good salary with an increase in income over time should really consider studying engineering in college. Between the following list of engineers (some honorary), there are numerous cars, large houses, and billions of investment dollars spent on their behalf every single day. The following figures are based on those provided by Forbes.
Richest engineers: #1 Bill Gates – $86.7 billion
According to Forbes, Bill's estimated wealth is around $86.7 billion. He is the richest billionaire and 7th most powerful person, apparently.
"Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organization and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world." - Bill Gates
Although he technically didn't finish his undergraduate degree, his work since dropping out is certainly some of the most important in computer technology of all time. His services to computer engineering should really qualify him as an honorary engineer if nothing else. He is the richest person in the world for 18 out of 23 years. Gates resigned as the head of Microsoft in 2014 but remains an advisor and board member for the company which he founded in 1975.
[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Richest engineers: #2 Jeff Bezos – $75.2 billion
[Image Source: James Duncan Davidson/ FLICKR]
Forbes record Jeff's fortune to be around $75.2 Billion. making him the richest of the richest engineers. The founder and CEO of the largest e-commerce platform Amazon has an electrical and computer science engineering degree. Jeff has soared to the top of Forbe's billionaire ranks as Amazon's stock rocketed over the last year or so. This rapid climb is partly due to Amazon's cloud-computing unit, Amazon Web Services. Bezos owns around 17% of Amazon.com and boasted in 2016 to shareholders that Amazon is the fastest company of all time to reach $100 billion in annual sales.
Bezos was raised by his mother and stepfather who was a Cuban immigrant who adopted him. He actually quit a very lucrative New York Hedge Fund career in 1994 with the idea of selling books on the internet. Amazon now sells pretty much everything that you would want. Bezos also has a passion for space travel. He formed an Aerospace company, Blue Origin, to develop a reusable rocket that Bezos intends to use to ferry passengers. He also purchased The Washington Post in 2013 for a pitiful $250 million.
When Amazon was founded in 1994 Bezos was 30 years old. At that time the internet was very much in its infancy and online shoppers were few and far between. Bezos has become convinced that the internet had massive untapped retail potential, a leap of faith we can all appreciate today. Amazon began selling books, as he intended and set up features like one-click shopping and Associates programmes very early on. Amazon went public in 1996 and listed on NASDAQ. Since then Amazon has gone from strength to strength and is now the top online retailer in the US. Not too bad.
Richest engineers: #3 Carlos Slim – $61.3 billion
[Image Source: UN Geneva via Flickr]
If you could imagine a scenario where your grocery store, cell phone provider and biggest national construction company were all owned by the same company, then you'd pretty much have described the situation in Mexico. Now picture one man in charge of all this. Now you've described Carlos Slim.
According to Forbes Carlos Slim has a net worth of $61.3 Billion. Carlos Slim is not only one of the richest engineers on this list but is also the 6th richest man on the planet. Forbes also lists him as the 17th most powerful person on the planet, not too shabby. He studied civil engineering in the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico and is now the CEO and chairman of Telmex (Mexico's only phone company), America Movil (Latin America's biggest mobile telecom firm), Samsung Mexico and Grupo Carso. Carlos Slim Helu is a Mexican entrepreneur, business magnate investor and of course a serial philanthropist. He has an enormous empire in Mexico as well as being a business tycoon.
Tip from Carlos: Diversify yourself and your portfolio
You'll not be surprised to learn that he is the wealthiest Mexican alive. Carlos also owns stakes in Mexican Construction, consumer goods, real estate and mining companies as well as 17% of the New York Times! Before entering into business, Carlos actually taught algebra at UNAM a university in Mexico City. Carlo's savvy, no-nonsense investment philosophy has earned him the nickname "the Warren Buffet of Mexico".
Slim's wealth and success are primarily down to his interest in economics and investing rather than engineering. Whilst studying his engineering degree he also took courses in economics in Chile after he graduated in 1961. He soon found himself in finance working long grueling hours as a stock trader in Mexico City. In 1965 his trading activities had netted him a cool $400,000, more or less $3 million in today's money. He used this money to open his own brokerage firm, Inversora Bursatil. He became a billionaire during the 1982 currency devaluation and economic crisis in Mexico. Using his assets he invested aggressively, buying entire companies that would soon recover. He hit this milestone at the tender age of 42. Nice work Carlos!
Richest engineers: #4 Mark Zuckerberg – $59.5 billion
Mark has a net worth of $59.5 billion according to Forbes. This places him in 5th place for the richest person in the world and 10th most powerful person. Mark's net worth has soared as Facebook's stock price has skyrocketed. He is another University dropout who has done very well indeed, thank you. Mark left Harvard University in 2004 at the age of 19 to launch the global giant that is Facebook. Mark and his wife have pledged to give away around 99% of their Facebook stake over their lifetimes.
[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Richest engineers: #5 Larry Ellison– $55 billion
Larry is said to be worth $55 billion according to Forbes. They also list Larry as being the 7th richest person in the world and 58th most powerful person. Larry co-founded the software giant Oracle in 1977 to take advantage of the growing market for customer relationship management databases. He resigned his role as CEO in 2014 but is still involved as chairman and chief technology officer. Ellison like other entries on this list never completed his undergraduate degree and started to build databases for the CIA until founding Oracle.
[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Richest engineers: #6 Michael Bloomberg – $46.8 billion
[Image Source: Rubenstein via Flickr]
How rich is Michael Bloomberg? $46.8 billion according to Forbes, that's how. After studying electrical engineering in university, Bloomberg decided to turn to finance and founded his own company called Bloomberg L.P. in 1981. Bloomberg is a global financial software, data, and media organization, where he holds 88% shares of the whole company. He was also the mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013. Bloomberg also likes to give away money as well as make it. He has donated $4 billion to gun control, climate change and other causes.
Bloomberg got started on Wall Street in 1966 as an entry-level worker at investment bank Salomon Brothers. He started out counting bond and stock certificates and worked his way up to to the bond trading and then became a partner in 1972. Michael was later demoted from his position as Head of Equity Trading and Sales in 1979. Mr. Bloomberg was fired 15 years later when the company went public in 1981 with a severance package of $10 million. So not too painful then.
"My first job out of school was on Wall Street and I stayed there for 15 years. It was a terrific ride. Everybody loved me-- right up until the day they fired me!" - Michael Bloomberg.
Insight into Bloomberg's financial power
Bloomberg's wealth ranks him 10th in the world and the 55th most powerful person, apparently. Bloomberg was born in 1942 just outside Boston, he earned his electrical engineering degree in 1964 from John Hopkins which he paid his way through by working as a parking lot attendant and loans! He later earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1966.
During his time as mayor of New York, he stepped down as CEO of Bloomberg and worked to repair the city's public school system and revitalize its industry. He implemented citywide smoking bans in indoor offices, parks, and beaches and helped the city reduce its welfare overhead by 25%.
"His charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, is focused on donating to public health, arts and culture, the environment, government innovation and education, and he has donated more than $2.4 billion of his wealth over the years." - Investopedia
Richest engineers: #7 Charles Koch – $48 billion
[Image Source: Charles Koch Foundation]
Charles has a net worth of $48 billion according to Forbes. Koch is said to be the 8th richest billionaire and 31st most powerful person, according to Forbes. Charles Koch received two M.Sc. in Chemical and Mechanical Engineering from MIT and together with his brother founded a chemical and oil-refining company Koch Industries, where he currently holds a position of a CEO. This conglomerate has around $100 billion in sales from pipelines, chemicals, Dixie cups, Brawny paper towels and Stainmaster carpets. His father Fred Koch founded the original company, Rock Island Oil & Refining Company, company in 1940 which managed to improve a method of refining heavy oil into gasoline.
Charles's father called him to ask him to help with the business in 1961. At first, he refused but his father threatened to sell it if he didn't come home to help. The threat apparently worked wonders and Charles finally agreed. He was promoted to president of the Engineering division in 1963, a position he held till 1971. After the passing of his father in 1967, Charles became chairman and CEO and renamed the company Koch Industries in honor of his dad.
Charles didn't rest on his laurels, however. Over the next few years, he pushed for purchasing the Pine Bend refinery. This is still the 14th largest in the United States and this acquisition cleared the way for Koch to diversify into new businesses. Koch Industries continued to invest in real estate, coal, refineries, pipelines, and fertilizer.
Richest engineers: #8 David Koch – $48 billion
[Image Source: Gage Skidmore via Flickr]
The other brother of Koch Industries, David Kosh owns 42% of the company and is the Executive Vice President. Unlike his brother, David only studied chemical engineering, although still receiving both B.S. and an M.S. Forbes record his wealth as $48 billion. He shares the 8th richest position with his brother and he is the 29th most powerful person. David shares the majority stake in Koch Industries which is the United States' second-largest privately held firm. David is a well-known philanthropist and is a big donor to the Lincoln Center and Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He even ran as the Libertarian Party's vice presidential candidate in 1980.
"The way I look at it is, cancer research is absolutely nonpartisan. Cancer is very democratic in the sense that it attacks people regardless of their race, their gender, their national background, or their political persuasions." - Investopedia
Amazingly David survived a runway plane collision in 1991. He managed to feel his way down the aisle and pried open a door to escape. Popular or "mainstream" media often portrayed the Koch brothers as "evil billionaires". Reality, however, seems to conflict with this narrative considerably. The brothers have jointly donated large sums of money to worthy causes including research, education and the arts, to name but a few.
"Koch serves on more than 20 boards of nonprofit organizations, including New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. He served on the National Cancer Advisory Board of the National Cancer Institute from 2005 to 2010 and has received a number of awards for his corporate leadership, support of biomedical research, philanthropy and corporate citizenship." - Investopedia
Richest engineers: #9 Bernard Arnault – $45.5 billion
[Image source: Wikimedia Commons]
French businessman Bernard Arnault is the CEO of LVMH, a multinational luxury goods conglomerate owning Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessey. He is also a vivid art collector, owning pieces of Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Henry Moore. According to Forbes, his net worth comes in at $45.5 billion making him also the 11th richest billionaire and 66th most powerful person.
Bernard is one of the word's ultimate tastemakers and oversees 70 brands including the likes of Dom Perignon, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Sephora and Tag Heuer, as well as nearly 3,900 retail stores. He has been the LVMH's CEO since 1989 which made a record $40 billion in sales in 2016. He has reportedly increased the company's sales by 500%. The vast majority of his wealth is tied up in Christion Dior stock of which he has the controlling interest. He also owns large amounts of stock in supermarket chains Carrefour and Hermes.
Although technically speaking Mr. Arnault's wealth isn't entirely engineering related, he does hold an Engineering degree from Ecole Polytechnique in France. He is an engineer by definition but in actuality a businessman by trade.
Richest engineers: #10 Larry Page – $40.8 billion
[Image Source: Herkko Hietanen via Flickr]
"You never lose a dream; it just incubates as a hobby." - Larry Page
Forbes list Larry as having a net worth of $40.8 billion. This makes him the 12th richest billionaire and 8th most powerful person as well as the 5th richest person in tech. The CEO of Google co-founded the major search engine back in 1998 but owns only 16% of the shares. Having graduated with a master’s degree in computer science engineering from the University of Stanford he now contributed to all the important decisions made in Google. His fortune has been the payoff of years of tenacity, inventiveness, and use of his talents to benefits others, a truly timeless and winning combination.
Larry's rise to wealth began during his time at Stanford University when he met Sergey Brin. The pair decided to do a dissertation on how websites are linked to one another. After this, they created PageRank which ranked websites based on their relative numbers of page links. This eventually evolved into what we now call Google. The very first incarnation of Google roamed the Stanford website in 1996 and the rest is history.
Google's impact on the world can't really be underestimated from bringing the internet to devoid sections of the world and creating driverless cars. Larry is a clean energy advocate and has even installed fuel cells and geothermal energy systems in his Palo Alto houses. He has reportedly, personally funded two secretive flying car startups, Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk. Nice.
Richest engineers: #11 Sergey Brin – $39.9 billion
[Image Source: JD Lasica via Flickr]
The other co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, met Larry Page in Stanford and the two IT specialists started Google and became billionaires. Forbes ranks Sergey as the 13th richest billionaire in the world and 30th most powerful person with a net worth of $39.9 billion.
"Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world." - Sergey Brin
Sergey's educational past isn't technically in engineering, however. He does hold degrees in mathematics, computer science, and heads various engineering projects like those self-driving cars we mentioned. Sergey's experiences with computers pre-dated many computer engineering programs and he could probably teach college professors volumes in computing!
Not everything Sergey touches turns to gold, however. He was previously in charge of the ill-fated and secretive Google Division. The same guys who made Google glasses. Sergey is apparently the richest immigrant in the United States and has been an outspoken critic of Trump's immigration policy. Sergey emigrated to the U.S. from Russia when he was "bit a wee lad" at the tender age of 6. This was following in the wake of anti-semitic tensions against his family.
Richest engineers: #12 Mukesh Ambani – $28.9 billion
[Image Source: World Economic Forum via Flickr]
Forbes declares Mukesh's wealth at $28.9 billion, nice! Indian chemical engineer Mukesh Ambani is the CEO and the largest shareholder of the second biggest company in India, Reliance Industries Limited. He completed a BE degree in chemical engineering and was about to receive an MBA from Stanford when he decided to drop out and help his father with building Reliance. Mukesh is the 33rd richest billionaire, 38th most powerful person and India's richest person.
Unlike others on the list, Ambani's wealth is directly related to his engineering degree. Reliance Industries Limited is listed on the Global 500 company list and it deals primarily in refining chemicals. Ambani is the largest shareholder of the company with 44.7% of all shares.
Mr. Ambani is also an oil and gas tycoon who sparked a price war in India's hyper-competitive telecom market. He did this by launching 4G phone service Jio at the annual shareholder meeting Reliance Industries last September. This service has managed to rack up 100 million subscribers to date and it offers free broadband and voice services.
Reliance Industries is currently locked in a legal battle with the Indian Government over recovery of costs associated with developing a gas field. His wife Nita also sits on the Reliance board and is a member of the International Olympic Committee.
Richest engineers: #13 Len Blavatnik - $20 billion
Forbes rank Len as the 40th richest person in the world and the 56th most powerful person with a wealth of $20 billion. He was born in Ukraine and raised in Moscow and emigrated to the U.S in 1978. Len made his fortune by selling his stakes in Russian oil company TNK-BP for $7 billion in 2013. Blavatnik attended Moscow State University of Railway Engineering but did not complete his coursework due to the family's request for immigration visas. He later received a masters degree in computer science from Columbia Univesity.
[Image Source: Blavatnik School of Government]
Richest engineers: #14 Leonid Mikhelson - $18.4 billion
Mikhelson founded but is also the chairman of, the natural gas producer Novatek. Forbes estimates his wealth as $18.4 billion. His father led the largest pipeline construction trust in the Soviet Union and Leonid started his career as the foreman for a construction company building a pipeline in Russia's Tyumen region. Leonid graduated from the Samara Institute of Civil Engineering in 1977.
[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Richest engineers: #15 Vladimir Lisin - $16.1 billion
Vladimir is a Russian Steel tycoon who worked his way up through the ranks from working as a mechanic in a Soviet coal mine to become the Deputy Chief Engineer at Tulachermet Metal Works in 1986. Forbes estimates his wealth at $16.1 billion.
Mr. Lisin (on the right) [Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Richest engineers: #16 Gennady Timchenko – $16 billion
Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko is a Russian businessman and billionaire with an estimated wealth of $16 billion according to Forbes. Timchenko has stakes in many Russian businesses including gas company Novatek, petrochemical maker Sibur Holding amongst many others. He is considered one the most powerful people in Russia with close links to Putin himself. Gennady began his career as an engineer in the Izhorsky plant near St. Petersburg, specializing in building power generators.
Mr. Timchenko (on the left) [Image Source: Wiki Creative Commons]
Richest engineers: #17 Thomas Kwok – $15.7 billion
[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Forbes list Thomas and his brother Walter's net worth at $15.7 billion. Thomas is the only brother who qualifies as an engineer, however. They also suggest they are the 69th richest billionaires and 5th richest family in Hong Kong. After studying civil engineering in Imperial College London, Kwok received an MBA and decided to go into the real estate. He is now the chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties, a real estate company in Hong Kong.
Although his wealth has nothing to do with his degree, he did have intentions of becoming an engineer before his father died. Thomas was sentenced to 5 years in prison in 2014 for bribery. His brother Walter left the family business and went off under his own steam leaving Raymond the sole chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties. The brothers inherited the company, which is publicly trading, after their father died in 1990. Most of their investments are in Hong Kong including the International Commerce Centre. That's the city's tallest skyscraper. They also own the International Finance Centre.
Richest engineers: #18 Azim Premji – $14.9 billion
Tech head honcho Azim Premji's $7.7 billion (income) Wipro, India's third-biggest outsourcer, has been on a purchasing binge to lift development. In 1966, on the news of his father's death, the then 21-year-old Azim Premji returned home from Stanford University, where he was studying engineering, to take charge of Wipro. Forbes estimates his wealth at $14.9 billion.
His latest procurement was Appirio, a cloud counseling firm situated in Indianapolis, for $500 million. Wipro began in 1945 as Western Indian Vegetable Products to make cooking oil from peanuts. Premji relinquished his reviews to care for the privately-run company in 1966 when his dad Mohamed Hasham Premji passed on. He included new items, for example, cleansers to the organization's portfolio, however, an auspicious venture into programming brought him wealth. A year ago Premji finished 5 decades as Wipro's supervisor.
[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]
Richest engineers: #19 Vagit Alekperov – $14.5 billion
A previous Caspian Sea oil rig worker, Vagit Alekperov worked his way up to deputy minister of the oil industry in the Soviet Union. Vagit has a BSc in Science and Engineering from Azerbaijan Institute of Oil and Chemistry. In 1991 he combined three ministry-controlled oil fields and set up Lukoil, now Russia's biggest independent oil organization. Alekperov penned a book called "Oil of Russia: Past, Present, and Future". He made almost $600 million in profits in 2016. Forbes estimates his wealth at $14.5 billion.
[Image Source: Lukoil]
Richest engineers: #20 Mikhail Fridman – $14.4 billion
After graduation, Fridman started out as a metallurgical engineer in a state electrical machinery factory in the Soviet Union. Forbes estimates his net worth as $14.4 billion making him the 75th richest person alive. He holds controlling shares in the investment group AlfaGroup with other billionaires German Khan and Alexia Kuzmichew.
[Image Source: Wikimedia Commons]
The final world
So there you go. Some shouldn't be a surprise, especially the guys from Amazon and Google, but perhaps their net worths are eye watering? As you can see the potential for future income should give most engineers a moral boost. An ambitious engineer can see that to reach a "staggeringly large wealth" like these you may need to diversify outside of engineering. All entries either own, are major shareholders of or founded the companies that have given them their just rewards. You could always go back in time and found a company in the, ironically, former communist Soviet Union. You simply would not be able to earn this kind of money through your own hard labor alone. Though we are sure you've noticed the trend. Food for thought for all of us. Why not get out there and start you own future multi-billion dollar organization? Simple right?
Don't feel too bad about your relative wealth, unless of course, you are on the list! In which case it's an honor to have you reading our humble article! For the rest of us don't lose hope and start making your money work for you rather than the other way around. The old adage that money makes money is very obvious yet often never attained. Simply look up compound interest and get investing! Best of luck to you and we look forward to seeing you on the Forbes list in the very near future!