Engineering is a diverse field. The word originates from Latin ingenium, meaning “cleverness” and ingeniare, meaning “to contrive, devise.” This discipline is the application of scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to invent, design, build, maintain, and improve structures, machine, devices, systems, materials, and processes.

Best known for his genius as an artist, Leonardo Da Vinci was also a gifted inventor, architect and engineer. He claimed to be able to create all sorts of machines both for the protection of a city and for siege. When he fled to Venice in 1499 he found employment as an engineer and devised a system of movable barricades to protect the city from attack. He also had a scheme for diverting the flow of the Arno River, a project on which Niccolo Machiavelli also worked. Leonardo’s journals include a vast number of inventions. They include musical instruments, a mechanical knight, hydraulic pumps,  hydraulic pumps, reversible crank mechanisms, finned mortar shells, a helicopter, a submarine, and a steam engine.

1. Petroleum Engineering

This is a field of engineering concerned with the activities related to the production of hydrocarbons, which can be either crude oil or natural gas. Exploration and Production are deemed to fall within the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry. Exploration, by earth scientists, and petroleum engineering are the oil and gas industry’s two main subsurface disciplines, which focus on maximizing economic recovery of hydrocarbons from subsurface reservoirs.

Petroleum engineers have a future full of challenges and opportunities. They must develop and apply new technology to recover hydrocarbons from oil shale, tar sands, and offshore oil and gas fields. They must also devise new techniques to recover oil left in the ground after application of conventional producing techniques. Since many petroleum companies conduct worldwide operations, petroleum engineers have the opportunity for assignments all over the world.

National Average: $106,000
Mid-career: $160,000
National Salary Range: $61,655- $165,052

2. Nuclear Engineering

Nuclear engineers are in charge of successfully completing nuclear engineering tasks for their organization. They develop and execute complex model interactions, use innovative computational methods to predict effects, and assess risks, as well as static and dynamic events. They must have advanced knowledge of nuclear engineering principles and their proper use while following strict safety laws when dealing with dangerous substances and materials.

Nuclear engineers apply nuclear reactor technologies that make processes faster, manage technical performance and constraints, monitor core application, test new nuclear methodologies, and use their expertise for process optimizations, flow, and subsequent evaluation.  Generally, they work in an office or reactor facility environment, using complex systems that make projections and calculations relevant to their company’s needs.

National Average: $82,000
Mid-career: $117,000
Salary Range: $58,277- $128,031

3. Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers find solutions to problems such as pollution, world hunger, and energy demands. They also conduct research to develop new and improved chemical manufacturing processes that are more efficient and less harmful to the environment. They typically work indoors in laboratories, utilizing the newest and most advanced technology. Chemical engineers will typically find themselves working in teams with other engineers.

Chemical engineers perform density, gravity, and pressure tests at various stages of production in order to ensure accurate results. They are constantly faced with challenges that require innovative thinking. They are efficient with time and money, consistently evaluating the time and cost to complete projects. Since they work with dangerous chemicals, they are concerned with developing safety procedures for themselves and others working close to possible chemical reactions.

National Average: $73,000
Mid-career: $115,000
National Salary Range: $50,693- $119,232

4. Aerospace Engineering

An Aerospace Engineer designs aircraft, missiles, space crafts, and satellites. They test prototypes to make sure that the models function according to how they are designed. They are spacecraft/vehicle engineers that deal with related infrastructure of these things. There are many specialties within this job. Aerospace Engineers are usually employed by industries whose workers build aircraft, and the engineers are primarily involved in the analysis and design, manufacturing, industries that perform research and development of such craft, and perhaps even the federal government.

They can often work on projects that are related to national defense or with the military and so they often require security clearances. As they gain more experience, they may train for a specialty. This job requires high intelligence, problem solving, self-motivation, an ability to work independently and also as a team, to articulate complex ideas to a team, and to stay with projects through many variations and to sometimes lengthy fruition.

National Average: $77,000
Mid-career: $109,000
Salary Range: $55,568- $117,813

5. Computer Software Engineering

Computer software engineers are responsible for creating and engineering effective software applications based on the project’s requirements. They utilize their analytical skills to design programs, scripts, and other code to run efficiently in a variety of system environments. They work with other engineers and software specialists to complete deployments and software products in a timely manner. Additionally, computer software engineers strive to reduce memory consumption in the engineering processes.

These engineers must have the ability to analyze large amounts of structured and non-structured information to create detailed reports based on their observations. They suggest changes to the software testing processes and find software fixes in a timely manner, as well as actively participate in training and adapting new technologies and application packages. In all tasks, they must follow strict privacy and safety protocols to prevent digital breaches.

National Average: $80,000
Mid-career: $65,000
Salary Range: $50,000- $113,786

6. Materials Science & Engineering

Materials engineers are in charge of conducting materials analysis for their organization. They are responsible for completing objective materials performance and recommending changes and corrections. They provide technical support to other teams to order new materials that satisfy project requirements, as well as use their engineering background to develop new product and improve production and manufacturing process.

Materials engineers work closely with other engineers to improve quality and efficiency. They also maintain equipment inventory and order new materials as needed. Additionally, these engineers communicate with production staff and external vendors, as well as create detailed reports for comparing materials’ performance, quality, and costs. They also research new materials and integrate newer technologies into their projects.

National Average: $71,000
Mid-career: $62,700
Salary Range: $51,514- $104,204

7. Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers are responsible for designing, maintaining, implementing, and improving electrical instruments and equipment. They must be able to apply principles of electrical theory to engineering projects, and must additionally inspect completed projects to ensure conformance with design standards. Sometimes computer aided design (CAD) skills will be required. Like with other engineering positions, strong problem solving skills are necessary in order to successfully complete assigned projects. Projects include initial concept development, layout and selection of equipment, development of contract drawings, specification writing, bid package preparation, field investigations, and support during construction.

Electrical engineering has now subdivided into a wide range of subfields including electronics, digital computers, power engineering, telecommunications, control systems, RF engineering, signal processing, instrumentation, and microelectronics.

National Average: $70,000
Mid-career: $106,000
Salary Range: $50,173- $102,992

8. Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers participate in the planning and manufacturing of new products by performing engineering duties and developing, designing and testing mechanical devices. They use technical problem-solving and communication skills and must be adept at project management, teamwork, and adhering to standard engineering procedures. They create these designs using established engineering practices and relevant technological tools. They research designs and make recommendations based on appearance, safety, budget, and function, and estimate the time and cost needed to complete projects.

Mechanical engineers may be responsible for creating prototypes and product tests and creating reports to provide the relevant data to management. They also communicate with other departments as needed for a given project. Other areas of responsibility may include helping to determine requirements for manufacturing equipment and working with a team to manage assigned portions of a project.

National Average: $65,000
Mid-career: $99,700
Salary Range: $47,195- $92,264

9. Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical engineering represents new areas of medical research and product development; their work helps pave the way for new ways to help treat injuries and diseases. Since medicine is a field with vast numbers of specific disciplines, there are many different sub-fields in which biomedical engineers work. Some work to improve and develop new machinery, such as robotic surgery equipment; others endeavor to create better, more reliable replacement limbs (or parts which help existing limbs function better, such as joint replacements). New and more comfortable patient beds, monitoring equipment, and electronics are also products that often begin as concepts from the biomedical engineer’s or involve some level of input from them.

These engineers must be able to communicate effectively, not just with teammates but also with medical personnel who will be using their products as well. As with almost any engineering job, the biomedical engineer should have a firm grasp of engineering principles, as well as the mathematics and science concepts that are prerequisite to that understanding. Depending on the area in which they work, some engineers also have to look at their ideas from a marketing standpoint and have the knowledge to make good decisions on that front.

National Average: $62,000
Mid-career: $91,700
Salary Range: $43,826- $97,764

10. Industrial Engineering

Industrial engineers are responsible for the labor in a company’s manufacturing unit. They decide what kind of work needs to be done, and they find ways to increase productivity of both the machines and the manpower. They help maximize factors of production like labor, technology, material and energy. Some of the duties of an industrial engineer include studying product requirements, designing mathematical models that meet those requirements and they designing manufacturing systems.

They are also experts on the machines that are being used in the production environment, so they are able to modify the machines to work as efficiently as possible. In order to perform these duties, industrial engineers need to be superb problem solvers with good organizational skills. Because they are responsible for the repair and maintenance of the machinery, they should also have a high aptitude for mechanics.

National Average: $63,000
Mid-career: $94,400
Salary Range: $45,074- $87,697

Editor’s Note: The salary information was obtained from– a company featured in Time, Bloomberg, Forbes, and CNBC. PayScale’s wage information is compiled from surveys of numerous occupations; this is done 24/7/365 to gather up-to-date wage details. Where applicable, the salaries are inclusive of bonuses and commissions.

Salaries can be nebulous; always in a state of flux and in this case they’re governed by the geographical location and hierarchy of the individual answering the survey. Thus, the figures are presented as a guide for the inquisitive student who may be mulling over a degree in one of the many fields of engineering.

All the engineering fields’ images are from– a non-copyrighted source.






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