Best Engineering Degrees for the Future
When planning your education, it's always a good idea to keep your future in mind. Which industries are growing, and which pay the best? It's especially important to keep these sorts of questions in mind when you have an interest in engineering, as there are a wide range of paths you can take within this field. To determine this list of degrees, we selected engineering fields that met two criteria using statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The first criteria is salary: the selected careers have a median salary exceeding the 2016 median for all occupations, $37,040. The second criteria is job growth: each profiled career is forecast to have a growth rate matching or exceeding the 7% rate predicted for all occupations from 2016-2026.
Agricultural engineers are concerned with solving problems related to agriculture. These might include machine efficiency, power supplies, pollution, and anything related to storing and processing agricultural products. In 2016, the median pay for people in this field was $73,640 according to the BLS. Going forward, the agricultural engineer field is expected to grow about 8% through 2026, which is considered as fast as the average for all occupations. A bachelor's degree is required to become an agricultural engineer, typically in agricultural engineering or biological engineering.
Next we have chemical engineers, who combine the principles of various fields--such as biology, chemistry, and physics--to address not only the production of chemicals, but also products that are engineered through chemical processes. You'll typically work in an office or laboratory, but may spend time at industrial plants and other locations. In 2016, the median income for chemical engineers was $98,340 per year, and the field is expected to grow 8% through 2026.
If you want to help your fellow citizens safely travel from place to place, civil engineering is for you. Civil engineers work on projects like roads, airports, tunnels, dams and bridges, in addition to working on buildings. They play a large role in the nation's infrastructure, working for both the public and private sector. One of the most appealing aspects of civil engineering is that it is expected to grow 11% through 2026, according to the BLS. In 2016, the median income for this field was $83,540 per year, more than double the median for all occupations.
Electrical and Electronics Engineer
If electronics and electricity are more your thing, then look into becoming an electrical and electronics engineer. They design, build and test things like motors, navigation systems, and communication systems. You'll need a bachelor's degree in order to get into this field, and some practical experience, like an internship, is also helpful. If you are able to enter this field, you can expect an income around $96,270 per year (the median income for 2016 according to the BLS), and plenty of open job spots, as it is expected to grow 7% through 2026.
Mechanical engineers are the people who work on mechanical and thermal sensors, which include tools, machines, and other devices. You'll find yourself working inside an office most of the time, but occasionally you'll travel to work sites to handle any issues. To become a mechanical engineer, you'll need to get your bachelor's degree in either mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology. In addition, if you want to sell your services to the public, all states require that mechanical engineers are licensed. Going forward, the job outlook for mechanical engineers is 9% though 2026, according to the BLS. You can also expect a median salary of $84,190 per year, also according to the BLS.
Finally, we have petroleum engineers. This field has a high expected job growth of 15% through 2026, making it an attractive option for people entering the workforce in the next couple of years. Even better, petroleum engineers typically have a high salary, as the median income was $128,230 annually in 2016, according to the BLS. As a petroleum engineer, you'll design and build methods for getting natural resources, such as oil and gas, out of the ground. To become a petroleum engineer there are a wide range of educational paths you can take -- employers are looking for someone with a bachelor's degree in either petroleum, mechanical, chemical or civil engineering.