16 Highest Paying Engineering Jobs of 2024

The path to becoming an engineer comes with a high level of commitment. An engineering-focused education can begin as early as STEM classes in junior high, and it often continues throughout an engineer’s career. Despite the dedication required to become an engineer, many are still drawn to the field because they want a career that involves creative problem-solving while also offering a healthy work-life balance and a competitive salary.

Below is a curated list of the highest paying engineering careers, shedding light on those fields that offer an enticing blend of financial remuneration, professional growth, and the chance to be at the forefront of cutting-edge advancements.

16 Highest Paying Engineering Jobs

Engineering degrees can lead individuals into a wide range of professions. Some of the highest paying engineering careers include the following roles.

1. Computer Hardware Engineers

A computer hardware engineer designs and develops computer systems and their related components. People in this profession tend to work independently in an office-type setting in computer design, research, or manufacturing. 

Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual pay for computer hardware engineers in 2023 was $138,080, which amounts to $66.38 an hour, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The states where computer hardware engineers earned the highest salaries included California, Massachusetts, Virginia, Oregon, and Washington. California, Oregon, and Massachusetts are also top employers of hardware engineers. 

Currently, the hardware engineering profession offers about 78,100 jobs, with 5% growth projected between 2022 and 2032, which is faster than the average growth for all jobs combined (3%).

Requirements

Those applying for a position of computer hardware engineer must hold a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or a related field. Engineering professionals in a range of roles can advance their careers by pursuing a master’s degree, gaining professional engineering licensure, earning industry certifications, and gaining several years of work experience.

2. Petroleum Engineers

The job of the petroleum engineer involves designing and developing extraction methods for oil and gas deposits. Petroleum engineers usually travel to the appropriate extraction sites and meet with their colleagues, but may also work in an office setting. 

Salary and Job Outlook

The median compensation for a petroleum engineer was $135,690 per year or $65.23 per hour in 2023, according to the BLS. The top paying states for petroleum engineers included New Jersey and Minnesota, as well as Colorado, Louisiana, and Texas, which also have high employment levels for petroleum engineers.

In 2022 the industry provided approximately 21,400 jobs, with a job growth projection of 2% between 2022 and 2032.

 Requirements

To become a petroleum engineer, you need a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering or a similar area of study such as mechanical, chemical, or civil engineering. Ongoing education is also required.

3. Aerospace Engineers

The exciting occupation of aerospace engineer involves designing aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, and satellites. An aerospace engineer may find employment with federal government, research and development, analysis, design, or manufacturing entities. 

Salary and Job Outlook

The BLS reports that an aerospace engineer’s median annual salary in 2023 was about $130,720, or $62.85 an hour. Top paying aerospace engineering states that year included Maryland, Washington, Colorado, California, and Washington, DC.

Currently, the United States employs about 63,800 of these professionals, with a faster-than-average 6% growth rate over the decade.

Requirements

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in engineering or another related scientific field. Additionally, the applicant may need a security clearance if the job is with national defense.

4. Software Engineers

Software engineers design computer programs for computer firms, manufacturers, and software publishers. Software engineers usually work with team members in an office environment.

Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual salary for the BLS category of software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers, which includes software engineers, was about $130,160, or $62.58 an hour, in 2023. Software developers typically make considerably more than testers or quality analysts. The states with the highest salaries for software developers included California, Washington, Maryland, New York, and Massachusetts.

Nearly 1.8 million people hold jobs in this category, according to the BLS. This occupation is projected to see a 25% increase between 2022 and 2032. 

Requirements

To obtain a job as a software engineer, you will need a bachelor’s in computer information technology.

5. Nuclear Engineers

Nuclear engineers address problems concerning the release and control of nuclear energy and nuclear waste disposal through research and development projects. Typically, a nuclear engineer works in an office setting. 

Salary and Job Outlook

The 2023 median annual salary for nuclear engineers was $125,460 or $60.32 an hour, according to the BLS. Top paying states for nuclear engineers included New Mexico, New York, and Washington, DC.

The industry employs some 13,800 professionals, and the decade is projected to bring 1% growth in the profession. 

Requirements

To become a nuclear engineer, you must obtain a bachelor’s in nuclear engineering or a related field. 

6. Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers design processes for manufacturing products such as paper and detergents using chemistry, engineering, and physics principles. Chemical engineers may work in an office, laboratory, or industrial setting.

Salary and Job Outlook

The 2023 median annual salary for this profession was $112,100, or about $53.90 an hour, according to the BLS. The states with the highest salaries for chemical engineers included Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

Currently, the positions held are about 20,800 with 8% growth expected over the decade. 

Requirements

Minimally, you need a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a related field to obtain a position. Many employers also require that you complete an internship or demonstrate some form of practical experience.

7. Electrical and Electronics Engineers

The job of an electrical engineer involves designing, developing, testing, and supervising the production of electrical products such as motors, navigation systems, and communications systems. They may work primarily in an office setting with occasional site visits to observe production.

Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual salary for electrical and electronics engineers was $109,010 in 2023, or about $52.41 per hour. Top paying states included California, New Mexico, and New Hampshire.

There are 299,700 professionals in the field in the U.S., and the profession is projected to grow 5% between 2022 and 2032, according to the BLS.

Requirements

You need a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and an internship or other practical experience to obtain a position.

8. Materials Engineers

Materials engineers are involved in developing, testing, and processing materials used to make many different products, including computer chips, medical devices, and sports equipment. They examine properties of materials such as plastics, metals, and ceramics, working in offices and research laboratories.

Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual salary of materials engineers in 2023 was approximately $104,100, or $50.05 an hour, according to the BLS. Top paying states for materials engineers included Maryland, Washington, and Rhode Island.

Some 22,300 positions exist in the field, with an expected growth rate of 6% over the decade.

Requirements

Materials engineers need a bachelor’s degree in materials science or a related engineering field. An internship or practical experience may also help one obtain employment.

9. Health and Safety Engineers

Health and safety engineers apply engineering, health, and safety principles to design systems and procedures that help prevent accidents, illnesses, and property damage. Most of their time is spent working in an office, although travel sometimes becomes necessary to inspect various work sites.

Salary and Job Outlook

The 2023 median annual salary for this position was just over $103,690, or about $49.85 per hour. The states with the highest salaries for health and safety engineers included California, Louisiana, and Alaska.

About 22,000 jobs exist, with a growth rate of about 4% over the decade.

Requirements

To become a health and safety engineer, you will need a bachelor’s degree in environmental health and safety or an engineering discipline. Practical experience is also desirable.

10. Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers

Biomedical engineers use their knowledge of engineering and science to develop medical devices and equipment, as well as related computer systems and software, with a focus on improving human health. These professionals often work in manufacturing or research facilities.

Salary and Job Outlook

The 2023 median annual salary for bioengineers and biomedical engineers was about $100,730, or $48.43 an hour. Top paying states for the profession included Massachusetts, California, and Texas.

There are 19,700 bioengineering and biomedical engineering positions in the U.S., with a 5% increase expected over the decade. 

Requirements

Minimally you need a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or bioengineering for employment in this field. Some positions require a graduate degree.

11. Mining and Geological Engineers

Mining and geological engineers ensure the safe removal of minerals for use in manufacturing and utilities by designing efficient mines. Mining and geological engineers work on-site in mineral mines, quarries, or oil and gas extraction firms.

Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual salary for mining and geological engineers was $100,640 in 2023, or about $48.39 an hour. Colorado, Alaska, and California were among the top paying states for the profession.

Only about 7,500 positions exist, with little or no growth expected over the next ten years. However, about 400 positions open yearly due to retirements and career changes. 

Requirements

Minimally, a bachelor’s degree in mining and geological engineering or a related area of engineering is required to enter this field.

12. Marine Engineers

Marine engineers, who work closely with naval architects, design and build ships, aircraft carriers, submarines, and sailboats. Though these professionals primarily work in offices, sometimes their jobs require them to go to sea to test their creations. 

Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual salary for marine engineers and naval architects was about $100,270 in 2023, or about $48.21 an hour. States with the highest wages included California, Maryland, and Washington, DC.

The 8,000 established positions will experience about a 1% growth rate in the next decade, but will experience about 400 openings per year.

Requirements

A marine engineer needs a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering or naval architecture.

13. Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers work on developing solutions to environmental problems by incorporating the principles of engineering, biology, chemistry, and soil science. They work in offices or at construction sites on projects such as pollution control, waste treatment, water reclamation, and site remediation.

Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual salary in this field in 2023 was about $100,090, or $48.12 an hour. The states with the highest salaries for environmental engineers included Texas, Connecticut, and Oregon.

 Approximately 47,300 jobs exist, with an expected growth rate of about 6% over the decade.

Requirements

To become an environmental engineer, you need a bachelor’s in environmental engineering or a related field, such as civil engineering.

14. Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design and develop mechanical and thermal devices and sensors, such as engines, machines, and tools. The broad field allows for work in fields ranging from healthcare and energy to transportation and robotics. Mechanical engineers may need to visit various work sites but usually work in offices.

Salary and Job Outlook

The 2023 median annual salary for mechanical engineers was $99,510, or $47.84 per hour. Top paying states included New Mexico, California, and Washington, DC.

The number of positions is about 286,100, with a faster-than-average growth rate of 10% percent between 2022 and 2032. 

Requirements

A position as a mechanical engineer requires a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology.

15. Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers create systems that bring together all aspects of creating a service or product, such as the workers, equipment, materials, energy, and information, with the goal of improving productivity and decreasing waste. Depending on the project, they may work in a factory or office.

Salary and Job Outlook

The median salary for an industrial engineer was about $99,380 annually, or $47.78 per hour, in 2023. Top paying states included Louisiana, California, and Hawaii.

Some 327,300 of these positions exist, with an above-average growth rate of 12% between 2022 and 2032. 

Requirements

To become an industrial engineer, you need a bachelor’s degree in industrial, mechanical, general, or manufacturing engineering.

16. Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design, create, and supervise infrastructure and building projects, including facilities, roads, bridges, and water and energy systems. Civil engineers usually split their work time between an office and a location such as a construction site.

Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual salary for civil engineers was $95,890 in 2023, with a per-hour rate of $46.10. States with the highest wages for civil engineers included California, New York, and Alaska.

There are 326,300 positions in the field, which is expected to grow at the above-average rate of 5%. 

Requirements

You need a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering for a position in this field.

Highest Paying Careers Within Engineering Fields 

Highest Paying Computer Hardware Engineering Jobs

  • DevOps engineers are involved in website platform development and maintenance, and may be involved in cloud technologies. The median annual salary was $106,000 in 2024, according to Payscale.
  • Hardware architects work with clients to create hardware that meets their specific needs in the way of hardware devices and models. The median annual salary was $130,000 in 2024.

Highest Paying Aerospace Engineering Jobs

  • Thermodynamic engineers use their knowledge to design, develop, and control thermodynamic testing systems. The annual salary ranged between $61,000 and $124,000 in 2024, with the median at $82,000, according to Payscale.
  • Flight test engineers work to ensure the safety of aircraft and spacecraft through the use of aviation technologies. The median salary was $96,000 in 2024.

To obtain an entry-level job in these positions, you need a BS in Aerospace Engineering. Experience and advanced degrees may result in higher-paying positions.

Highest Paying Software Engineering Jobs

  • Software architects create computer applications and programs. Their median salary was about $138,000 in 2024, according to Payscale, and they may earn as much as $180,000.
  • Back-end developers build and maintain to enable the user-facing side of a website to work. The salary for this position ranged from $63,000 to $143,000 in 2024, with a median salary of $97,000.

 Highest Paying Mechanical Engineering Jobs

  • Automotive engineers work with vehicles such as cars and motorcycles. They build prototypes, analyze data, and determine viable budgets while projecting timelines. The median national salary for this position was about $84,000 in 2024, according to Payscale. 
  • Instrumentation engineers’ purpose involves designing, building, testing, and maintaining systems to ensure that other engineering systems function smoothly. The median salary was about $94,000 in 2024. 

 Highest Paying Electrical Engineering Jobs

  • Semiconductor engineers design semiconductors and other electronic components. The salary ranged from $65,000 to $114,000 in 2024, with a median salary of $87,000, according to Payscale.
  • Directors of electrical engineering are responsible for overseeing teams of electrical and electronics engineers. The median salary for the role was about $128,000 in 2024.

 Highest Paying Civil Engineering Jobs

  • Civil engineering managers boast a salary range of $79,000 to $179,000, with a median salary of about $97,000 in 2024, according to Payscale. These individuals will possess the experience to hire, train, and analyze the performance of other engineers. They also bear the responsibilities of developing policies and ensuring quality control.
  • Vice president of engineering is an executive position that influences a company’s bottom line through strategic short- and long-term planning and collaboration with other leaders. The annual salary range for this type of position falls between $127,000 to $251,000, with a median salary of $182,000.

Highest Paying Chemical Engineering Jobs 

  • Research and development chemical engineers apply chemical processes to develop commercial and industrial products. The salary range for this type of position falls between $60,000 and $123,000 annually, with $89,000 as the median annual salary.
  • Senior chemical engineers take on the role of the senior or leader of the team. These individuals monitor the performance of other team members and ensure quality. The median annual salary for the role was $118,000 in 2024.

 Highest Paying Industrial Engineering Jobs

  • Industrial engineering managers take charge of testing, maintaining, and troubleshooting industrial processes. The median annual salary for these managers was $107,000 in 2024.
  • Manufacturing engineers plan, coordinate, and direct the manufacturing processes for a wide range of products. The annual salary for these professionals was $77,000 in 2024. 

Highest Paying Engineering Degrees

Some of the degrees that bring in high salaries include the following, according to Payscale:

  • Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering: $99,000
  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering: $96,000
  • Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering: $90,000
  • Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering: $86,000
  • Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering: $78,000

Engineers often pursue master’s degrees to advance into senior engineer or leadership positions. Graduate degrees with lucrative salaries include the following:

  • Master of Science in Electrical Engineering: $110,000
  • Master of Science in Computer Engineering: $109,000
  • Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering: $97,000
  • Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering: $96,000
  • Master of Science in Civil Engineering: $79,000

Top 5 Factors That Can Influence an Engineering Salary

Understanding the factors that impact an engineering salary is crucial for professionals entering the field and those considering career advancement. Salaries in engineering can vary significantly based on several key factors. Here, we explore the top five determinants of earning potential in the engineering sector.

1. Level of Education and Specialization

The level of education and areas of specialization significantly influence an engineer’s salary. Generally, higher educational qualifications, such as a master’s degree or doctorate, command higher salaries due to the advanced knowledge and specialized skills they confer. For instance, engineers with a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering often earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree due to their deeper expertise in complex electrical systems. 

Furthermore, engineers who specialize in high-demand fields like artificial intelligence or renewable energy can negotiate higher pay, reflecting the specialized skills and scarcity of qualified professionals in these areas.

2. Industry Choice

The industry an engineer chooses to work in can greatly affect their salary potential. High-tech industries, such as aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and information technology, typically offer higher salaries compared to traditional sectors like civil engineering or manufacturing. 

This disparity is due to the varying economic impact and revenue generation capabilities inherent to each sector. For example, engineers in the semiconductor industry are among the highest earners due to the industry’s robust growth and the complex nature of their work.

3. Geographic Location

Geographical location plays a critical role in salary variations. Engineers in urban centers or regions known for their technological industries, such as Silicon Valley or Boston, tend to have higher salaries due to the high cost of living and concentration of tech companies in these areas. 

Conversely, engineers in rural areas or regions with less economic activity may face lower salary offers. Additionally, international opportunities can offer varied compensation, with countries like Switzerland and Germany often providing high salaries to attract skilled engineers.

4. Professional Experience

Experience is a key factor in determining an engineer’s salary. As engineers gain more professional experience, they develop a deeper understanding of their field, enhance their problem-solving abilities, and accumulate a track record of successful projects, which can lead to higher earnings. 

Typically, an engineer with over ten years of experience can expect a significantly higher salary than someone just starting out. This progression reflects not only their increased capabilities but also their growing responsibilities within their roles.

5. Current Market Demand

Market demand for specific engineering disciplines can heavily influence salary levels. Engineers skilled in rapidly growing sectors, such as cybersecurity, data science, and sustainable engineering, are in high demand, and this scarcity drives up salaries. 

Market trends, such as the push towards digital transformation across industries, have heightened the need for engineers who can navigate and lead in these new realms, thereby boosting the salary potential for those with the relevant skills.

Is the Highest Paying Salary Always the Best Career Opportunity for Engineers?

When it comes to engineering careers, the allure of a high salary is undeniable. However, the highest paying opportunities may not always align with an engineer’s long-term career satisfaction and personal goals. 

Financial Rewards vs. Job Satisfaction

While a high salary can provide financial security, job satisfaction encompasses various other aspects including work environment, company culture, and personal interest in the work being done. Engineers often face the choice between lucrative positions in high-pressure, competitive environments and less financially rewarding roles that offer more creative freedom or better work-life balance. 

For example, a software engineer might choose a lower-paying job at a nonprofit organization developing community-oriented projects over a more lucrative position in a high-stress tech startup. Ultimately, personal values and career aspirations play critical roles in determining what makes a job genuinely rewarding.

Career Longevity and Growth

Long-term career growth and stability are also essential to consider beyond the initial salary offer. Some high-paying positions may not offer much room for advancement, leading to career stagnation. On the other hand, a position with a moderate starting salary in a company known for nurturing talent and promoting from within can offer a more rewarding career trajectory. 

Engineers should assess the potential for professional development, continued learning opportunities, and the possibility of ascending to leadership roles, which could ultimately lead to higher lifetime earnings and job satisfaction.

Work-Life Balance

The demands of high-paying engineering jobs can often encroach on personal time, impacting an engineer’s quality of life. Jobs in cutting-edge tech companies or demanding industries like oil and gas extraction might come with long hours, significant travel, or intense project deadlines, which could be a trade-off for the high salary. 

Engineers must weigh whether the compensation is worth the potential sacrifice in terms of health, family time, and overall well-being. Engineers need to consider how a job aligns with personal life goals and family commitments.

Explore Opportunities in Lucrative Engineering Fields

While the potential for a high salary is significant in the engineering field, understanding the factors that influence earning potential is key to making informed career decisions. Engineers should consider not only the immediate financial benefits but also long-term career satisfaction and growth opportunities when evaluating job offers. By understanding these factors, engineers can strategically position themselves to maximize their career fulfillment and financial success.

Deciding whether the highest paying salary is the best career opportunity requires a holistic view of one’s career and personal life. Engineers should consider how different roles align with their long-term professional goals, personal values, and desired lifestyle. Financial compensation is undoubtedly important, but it’s the balance of all these factors that truly defines career fulfillment. 

Engaging in thorough research, seeking mentorship, and introspective consideration are vital steps in making a choice that leads to both professional success and personal happiness. Encouragement for further exploration and consultation with career advisors is recommended to help engineers make the most informed decision.

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