A master's degree in engineering is beneficial for those entering the fields of civil, mechanical and industrial engineering because it prepares them to assume management roles. Engineers are highly trained professionals responsible for tasks such as city planning, designing mechanical devices and building roads.
Often, a master's degree program in engineering is designed to prepare technically qualified engineers for responsible management roles in their pre-established engineering positions. Most fields of engineering offer their own particular master's degree program; the most common engineering fields include civil, mechanical and industrial engineering.
|Career||Associate Civil Engineer||Senior Mechanical Engineer||Lead Industrial Engineer|
|Education Requirements||Master's degree||Master's degree||Master's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||8%||5%||1%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$82,220||$83,590||$83,470|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Options for Engineers with Master's Degrees
Associate Civil Engineer
Civil engineers design many aspects of transportation and are heavily involved in city planning. Civil engineers are involved in the production of roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges and other structures. An associate civil engineer is an advanced engineer who is one step below the senior engineer. Employers typically prefer to hire candidates with, at minimum, a bachelor's degree and numerous years of experience in civil engineering; holding a master's degree may reduce the amount of work experience required. Common duties of an associate civil engineer include those listed below:
- Serving as project manager on projects or assignments
- Conducting field and construction site inspections
- Conducting civil and traffic engineering studies and evaluating the results
- Preparing designs, specifications, plans and estimates
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most civil engineers earned between $52,900 and $129,850 per year as of 2015. The BLS predicts that job opportunities will increase 8% for the profession between 2014 and 2024, citing a continued demand for repairs and maintenance on water treatment plants, infrastructure and waste systems.
Senior Mechanical Engineer
A mechanical engineer researches, designs, develops and tests many mechanical devices, including tools, engines and machines. Mechanical engineers are also tasked with designing tools used in other engineering fields. A senior mechanical engineer has advanced past the associate engineer rank and is generally seen as second-in-charge of projects and assignments. Past work experience is an important criterion for this position; holding a master's degree in mechanical engineering can help fulfill the experience requirements. Senior mechanical engineers are responsible for a wide variety of tasks, which commonly include the following:
- Leading the activities of all engineering staff
- Performing complex analyses of mechanical systems
- Using computer-aided design (CAD) software
- Preparing specifications, data and other vital construction documents.
The BLS reports that in 2015, mechanical engineers usually made from $53,640 to $128,430 annually. The oil and gas extraction industry paid the highest wages at that time, while architectural and engineering services employed the most workers. A 5% increase in employment is projected for mechanical engineers from 2014-2024, according to the BLS.
Lead Industrial Engineer
The focus of an industrial engineer is efficiency. The main responsibility of an industrial engineer is to determine the most effective ways to use the basic factors of production (people, machines and materials) to make a product. Lead industrial engineers are the heads of their respective engineering divisions, and they often report directly to the board of directors. A master's degree is typically preferred for this position, although candidates often need several years of work experience in industrial engineering as well. Lead industrial engineers are responsible for complex tasks like those that follow:
- Providing financial analyses of alternative production systems
- Performing safety inspections of work areas
- Reviewing engineering specifications, facility layouts and data essential to operations
The majority of industrial engineers had annual salaries of $53,300-$126,920 in 2015, the BLS states. The BLS projects a job growth rate of 1% for these workers during the 2014-2024 decade.
All engineering fields can expect some job growth from 2014-2024, and a master's degree gives graduates a competitive edge. Additionally, these advanced professionals may be prepared for leadership positions within their respective fields.