Young Engineers

Which Engineering Discipline is Right For You?

January 5, 2015

 

Featured in 2015 Guide to Getting an Engineering JobUsing survey data and internal jobs numbers, we ranked engineering disciplines by competitive outlook, salary, and degree completion rate.

So, you want to be an engineer – what do you really want to do? Engineering is a widespread, diverse field, covering anything from heavy construction to nanotechnology, chemistry, or software. They’re all engineering disciplines, but conditions and compensation vary widely.

Use these rankings to inform your early career positioning and degree selection. How competitive is the job search landscape? How tough is the degree program? What’s the money like?

The 10 Most Competitive Engineering Disciplines

To rank engineering disciplines by competition for open positions, we compared the number of graduates in each discipline with employment data from two snapshots of our engineering jobs database. (Thanks to Brian Yoder for his annual Engineering by the Numbers (pdf) reports, where we sourced population data.)

Which Engineering Discipline is Right For You 10 Most Competitive Engineer Jobs

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A low competition rating (less than 1) indicates more jobs than potential applicants, increasing each engineer’s negotiating leverage. Disciplines with high competition ratings (greater than 1) are balanced in favor of the employer.

Which Engineering Jobs Pay the Most?

Here, we used survey data from ASCE and ASME members to order the disciplines by median salary. This doesn’t mean that’s what you will get paid! Salary varies considerably by location, experience, and responsibility.

Discipline Salary Discipline Salary
Petroleum $127,043.00 Electronic $105,000.00
Electrical $115,200.00 Biomedical $101,000.00
Chemical $113,750.00 Mechanical $98,922.00
Nuclear $112,364.00 Architectural $95,750.00
Computer $111,000.00 Industrial $91,500.00
Materials $110,000.00 Environmental $90,500.00
Mining $110,000.00 Civil $86,630.00
Aerospace $109,652.00 Agricultural $85,000.00

The median salary across all disciplines is $100,000, spread from $55,000 (10th percentile) to $239,000 (90th percentile).

Engineering Disciplines, by Degree Completion

Using Brian Yoder’s work once again, we compared the number of undergraduate enrolments with the number of degrees awarded. The result is a rough measure of how tough that engineering degree program can be, with a low completion rating indicating a high dropout rate.

Environmental 0.35 Agricultural 0.19
Nuclear 0.28 Mechanical 0.18
Computer 0.25 Chemical 0.18
Civil 0.24 Mining 0.18
Industrial 0.23 Biomedical 0.17
Materials 0.23 Electronics 0.14
Architectural 0.2 Petroleum 0.14
Aerospace 0.19 Electrical 0.12

The result is a rough measure of how tough that engineering degree program can be, with a low completion rating indicating a high dropout rate.

Featured Image Credit: NRC Canada

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