10 Highest Paid Engineering Majors in the U.S.
If you love math, science, and building and creating things, an engineering major can help you turn these skills into a lucrative career. Employers are always looking for good engineers, and the salaries that they offer show how much they prize professionals in this field.
The average starting salary for all engineers is $58,000, and the average mid-career salary is $98,000. However, that can vary quite a lot, depending on the field of engineering you study. For instance, mechanical engineers tend to make more than agricultural engineers.
Wondering which engineering careers lead to jobs with the highest salaries? College Factual has ranked the fields by salary to come up with this list of the 10 highest paid engineering majors. They’ve also included information about which schools are the best for each major and how popular each major is.
Salary data comes from PayScale.
1. Computer Engineering (CE)
As we embrace the Internet of Things and other advances in digital technology, computer engineers are becoming more and more integral to the world. As such, they earn an average early career salary of $60,775.
When they reach the middle of their careers and have more years on the job, the average salary for computer engineers is $104,749. If you get your degree from certain schools – such as Columbia University, United States Naval Academy or Princeton University – that average is even higher.
The most popular schools for computer engineering are Ohio State University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Iowa State University.
2. Electrical Engineering (EE)
Electrical engineering is the second most popular major in engineering, and the high salaries that graduates receive certainly help. At the beginning of their careers, electrical engineers bring home an average salary of $61,608.
By mid-career, that average goes up to $105,789. EE graduates from Princeton, U.S. Naval Academy, and Yale make even more.
The colleges that attract the most EE majors are the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Texas at Austin and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
3. Ocean Engineering (OE)
Ocean engineering may only produce about 200 graduates a year, but those individuals are paid quite well. The average early-career and mid-career salaries are $63,333 and $105,050, respectively. U.S. Naval Academy, University of Rhode Island and Florida Institute of Technology students earn even more.
As the need for environmental, energy and resource management engineers grows, the job outlook for ocean engineers is increasing much faster than other occupations – at a growth rate of 12-14% over the period from 2016 to 2026.
The most popular colleges for future ocean engineers are Texas A&M University, United States Naval Academy, and Florida Atlantic University.
4. Chemical Engineering
Chemical engineering is another one of the most popular engineering majors, with over 10,000 students getting undergraduate degrees every year. These students go on to lucrative careers with an average early-career salary of $64,325. By the middle of their careers, that average increases to $109,904.
As with other majors, a chemical engineer’s salary can vary a good bit, depending on the university they attended. Students with a degree from Yale, Columbia, and UT Austin see significant earnings boosts.
The most popular colleges for chemical engineers? The top three are the University of California-San Diego, Georgia Institute of Technology and Ohio State University.
5. Nuclear Engineering
Around 500 students a year obtain undergraduate degrees in nuclear engineering. There aren’t quite as many employment opportunities for nuclear engineers as there are for other engineering majors. The expected growth rate for this field during the period 2016-2026 is only 4% – a bit slower than the all-occupation growth rate.
Upon entering the workforce, new nuclear engineers make an average salary of $65,155. Over time, that average increases to $107,700. If you get your degree from UC Berkeley, U.S. Military Academy or MIT, you could make even more.
Pennsylvania State University is the most popular university for nuclear engineering majors. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Missouri University of Science and Technology aren’t far behind.
6. Metallurgical Engineering
Metallurgical engineers study the physical and chemical components of metallic elements and their alloys. This rare major only graduates about 170 students a year.
New metallurgical engineers make an average of $65,400, and that average rises to $97,500 by mid-career. Students with a degree from Colorado School of Mines or Montana Tech of the University of Montana tend to make even higher salaries.
Although the number of overall students is small, there are a few universities that are more popular than the rest for this major. Colorado School of Mines, the University of Texas at El Paso and Missouri University of Science and Technology top that list.
7. Systems Engineering
Systems engineers focus on designing and managing complex systems – such as spacecraft design and robotics – over their entire life cycle. Around 900 people get their undergraduate degrees in this discipline each year.
During the early part of their careers, systems engineers make an average of $66,357 a year. That average climbs to $120,000 by mid-career. The highest-paid majors in this field get their degrees from United States Naval Academy, University of Pennsylvania and United States Military Academy. As you probably guessed from this list of schools, the armed services are a major employer for students with a degree in systems engineering.
The most popular colleges for systems engineering majors are the University of Florida, United States Naval Academy and University of Virginia-Main Campus.
8. Marine Engineering
Marine engineering is another highly paid field that is less common than other majors. Around 500 people a year get degrees in this discipline. However, the job outlook for marine engineers is quite good. The field has an expected job growth rate of 12% from 2016 to 2026.
Marine engineers make an average salary of $68,750 when first entering the workforce. That average climbs to $106,267 by mid-career. It probably comes as no surprise that the U.S. Naval Academy produces the highest-paid majors in this field.
Want to be surrounded by a lot of other potential marine engineers? The most popular schools in the field are Maine Maritime Academy, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
9. Mining Engineering
Mining engineers plan and construct mines that remove minerals such as coal and metals. When doing so, they take a lot of factors into account, including safety design and environmental impact. Approximately 340 students a year graduate with a degree in this major.
Although there are few majors in this field, the ones who do obtain a degree in mining engineering tend to make high salaries. During the early career, the average salary is $71,083, and the mid-career average is $108,083. Students with degrees from certain schools, such as Pennsylvania State University and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, typically receive an even higher earnings boost.
If you’re the type of person who likes to study and network with others, check out the programs offered by Missouri University of Science and Technology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and State University and the University of Arizona. They are the most popular schools for mining engineering majors.
10. Petroleum Engineering
Not only do petroleum engineers top the list of highest-paid engineering majors, they also have a fantastic job outlook. During the 10-year period from 2016 to 2026, the occupation is expected to have a growth rate of 15%. That’s more than twice the projected all-occupation growth rate.
The average early career salary for petroleum engineers is $90,827. That’s over $30,000 more than the average for all engineers! That average may be even higher depending on the school you go to. For instance, petroleum majors from the University of Wyoming make an average of $108,193 at the beginning of their careers.
The high average salary rises as the engineer has more time on the job. By the time petroleum engineers have reached their mid-career level, they earn an average of $170,782.
The most popular schools for the major are Colorado School of Mines, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College, and Pennsylvania State University.
If you’re thinking about going into this lucrative career, you may want to look at Colorado School of Mines, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College and Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus. They’re the most popular colleges for future petroleum engineers.