Congratulations! You decided you want to be an engineer. But what exactly does that mean? “Engineer” is a title that refers to more than just a single job.
Ask some high school students what they want to do after graduation, and chances are good that at least one will say “become an engineer!” But saying you want to be an engineer is like saying you want to be a scientist (but no, an engineer is not the same thing as a scientist). Just like “scientist,” engineering is more of a job category than a job title, and there are lots of different types of engineers out there.
Types of Engineers
There are six major fields of engineering specialty: mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, management, and geotechnical. In addition, however, there are hundreds of positions that fall within subsections and combinations of those branches. For most engineering positions, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required with separate licensing requirements that depend on the occupation. Check out just a few different types of engineers in the list below. All the salary data reflects the most current 2015 job statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
What They Do: Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment. That can include anything from electric motors to radar systems. Electrical engineers might work in telecommunications, and many of them hold jobs within the government or the military.
Median Salary: $93,010
What They Do: Civil engineers design, build, and maintain construction projects and systems in the public and private sector. That includes work on roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply. Civil engineers plan and oversee these private and public infrastructure projects, ensuring that they remain on schedule and go according to plan. This type of engineer requires a bachelor’s degree specifically in civil engineering or a closely related field and may focus on a more specific discipline, such as sustainable engineering.
Median Salary: $82,220
What They Do: This type of engineer specializes in the extraction of gas and oil from the earth. They ensure that oil field equipment is functioning properly and are sometimes responsible for designing new equipment. This type of engineer typically works in offices or research laboratories and a heavy background in various math and science coursework is required.
Median Salary: $129,990
What They Do: Agricultural engineers solve agriculture-related problems concerning power supplies and the efficiency of farming machinery. They also deal with pollution and environmental issues, as well as the storage of agricultural products. Agricultural engineers commonly provide consultation work for equipment manufacturers.
Median Salary: $75,090
What They Do: Biomedical engineers combine knowledge of engineering principles with medical and biological sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in health care. They often work in hospitals, universities, or manufacturing.
Median Salary: $86,220
Want to learn more about how to become an engineer? Read on here to find out about the top undergraduate schools for engineering.