20 Highest Paying Engineering Jobs – 2024

May 10, 2024

highest paying engineering jobs

So, you’ve decided that you want to be an engineer! You probably already know that as a field, engineering is a well-paid profession in general. But you also may want to know specifically what the highest paying engineering jobs actually are. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the specialties where you’ll find the highest-paid engineers, along with their median salaries and job growth outlooks.

Highest Paying Engineering Jobs: A Good Return on Investment

There are many reasons why you may want to be an engineer, and return on investment is certainly a valid one. In 2023, the average cost of college tuition in the U.S. was around $26,027 per year for state schools, and around $55,840 for private colleges and universities.[i] Engineers not only earn lucrative salaries, but the job growth outlook is positive for most engineering professions, with an estimated average of 5% growth (or higher!) over the next 10 years for most specialties.

Additionally, unlike a law or medical degree, engineers don’t necessarily need to attend graduate school to work at the job of their dreams – oftentimes, a bachelor’s degree in engineering will suffice and some of the highest-paid engineers never go to graduate school at all. Earning a Master’s degree in engineering can sometimes unlock even more doors in terms of career opportunities and salaries, but oftentimes employers place just as much value on practical experience gained from internships. Top feeder schools are also a crucial consideration in job availability. Though many engineering employers are happy with degrees from most undergraduate universities, not to be overlooked is the power of networking and the social capital that an engineering feeder school can provide.

A Few Considerations When Seeking the Highest Paying Engineering Jobs

As you consider your future major and career, remember that it’s not all about money and return on investment – you may also want to factor in the difficulty of the degree you’re trying to attain. As an engineering major, you’ll need to take advanced courses in physics, mathematics and chemistry (plus many more major-specific courses, depending on your engineering field of choice and specific program). In general, engineering is widely acknowledged to be one of the hardest science majors, and there are varying degrees of difficulty within the field itself.

Engineering majors have some of the highest rates of attrition, with approximately 50% of engineering majors changing fields or even dropping out before graduating.[ii] As you dream about some of the world’s highest paying engineering jobs, remember that fit and happiness are also crucial! You probably won’t want to drop out or transfer, so it’s vital to choose a major and job that’s actually right for you (not just for your wallet).

Highest Paying Engineering Jobs (Continued)

As you peruse our list below, it’s also important to remember that as with many professions and fields, the cost of living will greatly influence a particular engineer’s salary: in other words, if it’s more expensive to live in a location, you can bet that your salary will be comparatively higher than for the same job in an area with cheaper living expenses. Additionally, keep in mind that since the pandemic, more employers are offering workers the ability to work remotely, and this developing trend can also affect salaries.[iii] Ultimately, while location, education, and certification are all important factors in determining your expected salary, your particular field of engineering will probably be the most significant factor in your ultimate income. So, if you’re a born engineer and you know it’s your calling, here is our list of the highest paying engineering jobs.

Good luck!

Highest Paying Engineering Jobs

1) Director of Engineering

As a director of engineering, you’ll be in charge of other engineers, their projects, and operations within engineering teams. This kind of directorial job will certainly necessitate a degree in engineering, but it will also require management, administrative, and leadership skills and experience as you help engineering teams set and achieve their goals by smoothly cooperating. (Hint: you may need to spend time working in the field as an engineer before you advance to a position like this one.)

2) Computer Hardware Engineer

As a computer hardware engineer, you’ll most likely work in a lab setting where you’ll design, develop, test, and research various computer systems and parts. Computer hardware engineers can be found in manufacturing settings and in companies that develop and implement computer systems design.

3) Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers work in the fields of energy, mining and extraction, sometimes for private companies and sometimes for the government. Petroleum engineers are some of the highest-paid engineers out there and can expect to be in the field (such as oil sites, mines, etc.) for a large portion of their work.

Highest Paying Engineering Jobs (Continued)

4) Aerospace / Aeronautical Engineer

In this exciting field, aerospace engineers will design, innovate, implement, test, and research flight and machines that fly. You can expect a wide variety of dynamic career options in defense, commercial flight, and even space travel (the primary different between aerospace and aeronautical engineers is that aerospace engineers work with flight within our atmosphere and flight in space; aeronautical engineers primarily work with flight within our atmosphere)! If you are interested in being an aerospace engineer, be sure to check out our list of Best Colleges for Aerospace Engineering.

5) Computer Software Engineer

A software engineer is a particular kind of computer engineer or scientist who specifically develops programs and applications within computers. If a hardware engineer works with the computer itself (systems and parts), a software engineer is concerned with things you can do on a computer. In this field, you can expect an exciting career in the private sector designing apps, improving interfaces, performing quality assurance and even creating games!

6) Nuclear Engineer

  • Median Salary: $125,460
  • Job Growth Outlook: 1% (little to no expected change in growth)

In this important field, you’ll work with projects that implement and control nuclear energy (most likely in a government capacity); you may also find yourself working with the safe management and disposal of nuclear products and waste. Although this field is expected to stay at its current growth rate (unlike many engineering occupations, which are expected to grow at a greater pace than other fields), it’s still one of the highest paying engineering jobs.

Highest Paying Engineering Jobs (Continued)

7) Robotics Engineer

This is a type of mechanical engineering that specifically designs, tests, and produces robots. As a robotics engineer, you may find yourself working in fields as broadly ranging as defense, medicine, and transportation (and many more), and you could both create products or be involved in research – this field is widely versatile!

8) Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers work with manufacturers, helping produce and innovate products via chemical processes. As a chemical engineer, you can expect to work primarily in a lab, and, like many engineering careers, internship experience in chemical engineering is often valued in job candidates.

9) Electrical / Electronics Engineer

Electrical and electronics engineers design, create, innovate, evaluate and assist in manufacturing electrical products, machines, and parts across a variety of fields and sectors. As an electrical engineer, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and many employers also value practical experience (like that you’d earn in an internship) when hiring their employees.

Highest Paying Engineering Jobs (Continued)

10) Data Engineer

  • Median Salary: $108,020
  • Job Growth Outlook: 35% (substantial growth, compared to other fields)

In this rapidly expanding field, data engineers work in the realms of machine learning, data processing, and computer storage, collecting and using data for analysis across a wide variety of fields. Cybersecurity, metadata, data protection and cloud computing all fall under the purview of data engineers.

11) Materials Engineer

Materials engineering is a broader sector within the engineering field that often overlaps with industrial and mechanical engineering. As a materials engineer, you’ll understand the composition of materials – plastics, polymers, metals, composites, etc. – and determine how best to use them in various settings like manufacturing, laboratories, and factories. If this is the career path for you, be sure to also check out our list of Best Colleges for Materials Science and Engineering!

12) Health and Safety Engineer

  • Median Pay: $103,690
  • Job Growth Outlook: 4% (about average)

Health and safety engineers work in a variety of fields: manufacturing, laboratories, clinical settings, government, etc. Ultimately, it is the job of a health and safety engineer to make sure that products, worksites and public spaces are safe for human operations and activities. As a health and safety engineer, your specific engineering skillset will vary depending on your job, but you can bet you’ll need a strong knowledge of the engineering systems needed to implement and maintain safe products and sites for users.

Highest Paid Engineers (Continued)

13) Biomedical Engineer

Some of the highest-paid engineers work in the medical field. Biomedical engineers design medical equipment, software, and various devices for the healthcare field. Within biomedical design and engineering, you can often expect to work in a team-based environment, seeking input on projects from stakeholders in the medical fields. Also check out our page on Best Colleges for Biomedical Engineering.

14) Mining and Geological Engineer

  • Median Salary: $100,640
  • Job Growth Outlook: 0% (little to no expected change in growth)

As a mining and / or geological engineer, you’ll work either in a lab, office, or field designing safe and efficient practices and systems to extract minerals, oil, and other natural resources. You may also find yourself working in government and collaborating with environmental engineers, trying to achieve greater sustainability in natural resource extraction. This particular branch of engineering is not expected to grow as rapidly as other sectors within the field, but it is still a lucrative occupation.

15) Marine Engineer / Naval Architect

  • Median Salary: $100,270
  • Job Growth Outlook: 1% (little to no expected change in growth)

Marine engineers and naval architects design, build, innovate, and test water-going ships of all shapes and sizes, usually for government defense and / or private companies. While this particular field of engineering isn’t expected to grow substantially in the next decade, a job in marine engineering will still earn you a lucrative salary.

Highest Paying Engineering Jobs (Continued)

16) Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers use engineering to aid in sustainability initiatives, conservation, and any systems that affect or interact with the natural world. As an environmental engineer, you can find a job in the government sector or in a private capacity, implementing sustainable initiatives for companies or even collaborating in fields that harvest natural resources (like drilling). Be sure to also look at our list of Best Colleges for Environmental Engineering.

17) Mechanical Engineer

  • Median Salary: $99,510
  • Job Growth Outlook: 10% (faster than average)

Some of the highest paying engineering jobs are in mechanical engineering. Mechanical engineering is a broader discipline that can be found in many fields: aerospace, biotechnology, robotics, manufacturing, and many more. Ultimately, the mechanical engineer helps design, test, and implement machine products and systems. In this rapidly growing field, you’ll most likely need to attain a license to operate in either government or private jobs.

See our list of Best Colleges for Mechanical Engineering

18) Industrial Engineer

Industrial engineers can work in a variety of fields, from healthcare to business to manufacturing. Ultimately, the industrial engineer improves systems, whether those systems are material-, economic-, or people-based. Supply chain analysis, productivity analysis, and data analytics are all under the umbrella of this lucrative branch of engineering.

Highest Paid Engineers (Continued)

19) Civil Engineer

Civil engineers work in a range of jobs, designing and improving infrastructure like roads, bridges, highways, airports, seaports, railways, parks, city grids – basically any and all public spaces! Although they aren’t necessarily the highest-paid engineers, these careers are still very lucrative.

20) Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural engineers design and improve agricultural systems and products, implementing better agricultural processing and often improving sustainable efforts in the agricultural field. While closely related to the environmental engineering field, agricultural engineers tend to work more closely with living systems (crops, animals, organic materials like wool). With greater public interest in sustainability, we can expect both agricultural and environmental engineering jobs to grow substantially in the next ten years.

Highest Paying Engineering Jobs – Works Cited

[i] Hanson, Melanie. “Average Cost of College & Tuition,” Education Data Initiative. 18 November, 2023. https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-college#:~:text=The%20average%20cost%20of%20attendance,or%20%24223%2C360%20over%204%20years.

[ii] Shuman, Larry J., Cheryl Delaney, Harvey Wolfe, Alejandro Scalise. Engineering Attrition: Student Characteristics and Educational Initiatives. Engineering Education: Assessment Methodologies and Curricula Innovations. 20 June 1999.

[iii] Haan, Katherine. “Remote Work Statistics & Trends in 2024,” Forbes Advisor, 12 June 2023. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business/remote-work-statistics/

[iv] Salary figures and job growth outlook predictions are estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023 Occupational Outlook Handbook. Please note that these are averages that include median data from mid- and late-career salaries, along with salaries from entry-level positions. In other words, these numbers can give you a rough estimate of what you may earn by mid-career in each major.