Highest Paid Engineer Jobs in the USA
(Updated 3/27/2012) The U.S. Department of Labor classifies engineers in the same occupational group as engineering technicians, architects and drafters. As a category, they average a mean $37.08 per hour or $77,120 per year as of 2011, which is an increase of two percent over the previous year.
This is quite a bit more than the average salary in the U.S.A., which is only $21.74 per hour or $45,230 per year. Engineers need a minimum bachelor’s degree in a related technical discipline. Those interested in research must often also have a master’s degree or Ph.D. The following are the highest paid engineer jobs in the USA, ranked from smallest to largest salaries.
- National Society of Professional Engineers
The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) strengthens the engineering profession by promoting engineering licensure and ethics, advocating and protecting professional engineers' legal rights at the national and state levels.
Advancing the Knowledge and Practice of Engineering in the Public Interest
- Professional Society Links
List of general and field-specific engineering associations.
1. Petroleum Engineers
The highest paid engineer jobs in the U.S.A. belong to petroleum engineers, who create equipment and methods for extracting oil and gas from beneath the earth. They develop new drilling methods, create machinery for more efficient extraction and find ways to increase recovery of these fossil fuels. They receive mean earnings of $66.82 per hour or $138,980 per year. This is an increase of nine percent over the previous year, the largest increase of any engineering discipline.
Employment will grow by 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, which is much faster than average. This is because a growing population will demand more fuel, and many jobs will be available around the world as well as domestically. Prospects should be excellent, since the number of job openings exceeds the number of graduates.
© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin.
2. Nuclear Engineers
Nuclear engineers study processes involved in nuclear energy and radiation. They create, monitor and operate nuclear power plants, find more efficient ways to produce and handle nuclear materials, and develop new strategies for disposing of nuclear waste. Some specialize in the use of nuclear fuel to power vehicles, while others create equipment for medical treatment. Mean salaries run $50.56 per hour or $105,160 per year, an increase of four percent over the previous year.
Nuclear engineering jobs are expected to grow by 10.2 percent, which is about average for all jobs. This is because of growing interest in the nuclear power plans as an alternative source of energy. Job opportunities will be good since the number of job openings will balance the number of nuclear engineering graduates.
3. Aerospace Engineers
Aerospace engineers design, test and handle the production of air vehicles such as jetliners and helicopters, spacecraft and missiles. They can specialize in systems such as structural design, communication, guidance or navigation, or in specific types of aircraft such as fighter jets, rockets or commercial planes. They earn a mean income of $49.94 per hour or $99,000 per year, an increase of five percent over the previous year.
Jobs for this profession are expected to increase by 4.9 percent, which is about average for all occupations in the U.S.A. This is due to a growing population that will demand aircraft for both travel and the delivery of freight. New technologies and materials will also spur the design of new commercial, combat and spacecraft, requiring more engineering expertise.
4. Computer Hardware Engineers
Computer hardware engineers research, develop, test, and manage manufacturing and installation of computer hardware such as systems, routers, networks, chips, circuit boards and printers. Much of their work involves electronic engineering knowledge, but only as it relates to computer design. They get a mean income of $48.73 per hour or $101,360 per year, which is similar to the previous year.
Jobs for this field are expected to increase by nine percent, which is slower than average. Though computer demand and information technology continues to expand, foreign competition is also increasing. Much of the job growth will come from systems design and services.
5. Chemical Engineers
Chemical engineers use the principles of chemistry to solve practical problems about the manufacture and use of chemicals, which are found everywhere. These engineers are thus involved in many industries such as electronics, food production, energy, medicine manufacturing, paper and clothing. They must not only control chemical process used in production, but must ensure that such processes are safe for consumers receiving the final product. Chemical engineers are number five on the highest paying engineer jobs list, making a mean salary of $44.81 per hour or $99,440 per year. This is an increase of five percent over the previous year. Job opportunities are also expected to increase by 5.9 percent.
Other Engineering Salaries Sorted by Salary
2010 - 2020 Employment Change
6. Electronics Engineers, except Computer
7. Engineers, All Other
8. Marine Engineers and Naval Architects
9. Mining and Geological Engineers, including Mining Safety
10. Electrical Engineers
11. Biomedical Engineers
12. Materials Engineers
13. Mechanical Engineers
14. Environmental Engineers
15. Civil Engineers
16. Industrial Engineers
17. Health and Safety Engineers, Except Mining Safety
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