Bureau of Labor Statistics

Engineers: Employment, pay, and outlook

| February 2018

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Did you use roads, electronics, or appliances today? Thank an engineer.

Engineers have a role in creating a variety of structures and products, from airports to zippers. If that sounds intriguing, consider a career in engineering. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment growth for these workers, with nearly 140,000 new jobs expected for engineers over the 2016–26 decade. And in 2016, engineers had a median annual wage of $91,010—more than twice the median wage for all workers.

Read on to see which engineering occupations are projected to have the most new jobs from 2016 to 2026 and which had the highest wages in 2016. You’ll also learn about the industries that employ engineers and the typical requirements for entering engineering.

Projected new jobs

BLS prepares employment projections for 18 engineering occupations. Table 1 shows how many of the 139,300 jobs for engineers are expected to be added in each of these occupations from 2016 to 2026.

Table 1. New jobs for engineers, projected 2016-26 and employment and wages, 2016

View Chart Data

Table 1. New jobs for engineers, projected 2016–26, and employment and wages, 2016
Occupation New jobs, projected 2016–26 Employment, 2016 Median annual wage, 2016

Total, all engineers

139,300 1,681,000 $91,010

Civil engineers

32,200 303,500 83,540

Mechanical engineers

25,300 288,800 84,190

Industrial engineers

25,100 257,900 84,310

Electrical engineers

16,200 188,300 94,210

Engineers, all other

8,500 132,500 97,300

Electronics engineers, except computer

5,100 136,300 99,210

Petroleum engineers

5,100 33,700 128,230

Environmental engineers

4,500 53,800 84,890

Aerospace engineers

4,200 69,600 109,650

Computer hardware engineers

4,000 73,600 115,080

Chemical engineers

2,500 32,700 98,340

Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors

2,200 25,900 86,720

Biomedical engineers

1,500 21,300 85,620

Marine engineers and naval architects

1,000 8,200 93,350

Nuclear engineers

700 17,700 102,220

Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers

600 7,300 93,720

Materials engineers

400 27,000 93,310

Agricultural engineers

200 2,700 73,640

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program.

 

About 23 percent of new jobs for engineers are projected to be for civil engineers, the largest engineering occupation.

Mechanical and industrial engineers are second and third in projected job growth among engineers. Together, these two occupations accounted for about 36 percent of new jobs for engineers.

Engineer wages

As table 1 also shows, median annual wages for engineers vary. A median wage is the 50th percentile: half of workers in the occupation made less than that amount, and half made more.

Percentiles show wage ranges within an occupation. For example, entry-level engineers, like entry-level workers in most occupations, usually earn less than the median; engineers with experience are likely to earn more. As the illustration shows, engineers at even the 10th percentile make $55,670—meaning that more than 90 percent of engineers have wages that are higher than the $37,040 median for all workers.

Percentile wages for engineers, 2016

View Chart Data

Percentile wages for engineers, 2016
Percentile Percentile wages

10th percentile

$55,670

25th percentile

70,190

Median

91,010

75th percentile

117,350

90th percentile

147,670

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics program.

 

Chart 1 shows percentile wages for the top-paying engineering occupations in 2016. Petroleum engineers earned a median wage of $128,230 per year, the highest of all engineers. At the 90th percentile, these workers had an annual wage that was equal to or greater than $208,000, the top percentile wage for 2016 published by the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics program.  

View Chart Data

Chart 1. Top-paying engineering occupations, percentile wages, 2016
Occupation 10th percentile 25th percentile Median annual wage 75th percentile 90th percentile1

Petroleum engineers

$73,000 $97,430 $128,230 $179,450 >=$208,000

Computer hardware engineers

$66,870 $88,290 $115,080 $146,110 $172,010

Aerospace engineers

$69,150 $85,500 $109,650 $135,020 $160,290

Nuclear engineers

$65,570 $82,770 $102,220 $124,420 $152,420

Electronics engineers, except computer

$63,760 $78,070 $99,210 $124,030 $155,330

1Data not published for percentile wages greater than $208,000.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics program.

 

Employment by industry

Manufacturing employed more than 578,000 engineers in 2016, the most of any industry. (See chart 2.) Within manufacturing, the largest number of jobs for engineers were related to the production of computer and electronic products, transportation equipment, and machinery.

View Chart Data

Chart 2. Top industries of employment for engineers, 2016
Occupations Employment of engineers,
2016
New jobs projected for engineers,
2016–26
Median annual wage for engineers,
2016

Manufacturing

578,400 10,900 $88,430

Industrial engineers

181,800    

Mechanical engineers

138,100    

Electrical engineers

61,300    

Engineering services

315,200 54,300 $87,360

Civil engineers

146,800    

Mechanical engineers

52,700    

Electrical engineers

36,600    

Federal, state, and local government1

203,200 7,700 $95,450

Civil engineers

76,100    

Engineers, all other

35,600    

Electronics engineers, except computer

19,100    

Scientific research and development services

83,100 14,700 $104,350

Mechanical engineers

19,800    

Electrical engineers

14,200    

Industrial engineers

7,700    

Management of companies and enterprises

51,800 4,500 $97,330

Industrial engineers

11,900    

Mechanical engineers

8,800    

Electrical engineers

8,100    

Construction

50,900 7,900 $78,570

Civil engineers

31,300    

Electrical engineers

5,100    

Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors

4,800    

Computer systems design and related services

46,900 9,300 $104,590

Computer hardware engineers

19,100    

Electronics engineers, except computer

7,200    

Electrical engineers

6,800    

1 State and local government excludes education and hospitals.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program (employment and new jobs projected), Occupational Employment Statistics program (wages).

 

All of the industries in the chart are projected to add jobs for engineers from 2016 to 2026. Of the industries shown, engineering services is projected to have the most new jobs—more than 54,000—over the decade.

Different industries employ different types of engineers. For example, the construction industry employs civil, electrical, and health and safety engineers to ensure that structures and systems are built correctly.  

Hover over a bar in the chart to see the number of new jobs projected and the 2016 median annual wage for engineers in the industry. Click on a bar to see the engineering occupations with the most employment in the industry in 2016.

Typical education required

For entry-level engineering jobs, you typically must have a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline that’s related to the type of work you plan to do. Additional education or licensure, or both, may be needed for advancing in the occupation.

Getting practical experience while in college, such as by completing an internship or participating in a cooperative engineering program, also is recommended. But you can start to prepare for an engineering career as early as high school by taking classes such as trigonometry, calculus, and physics.

Engineering-related occupations

Other occupations might require—or benefit from—a background in engineering. Of the occupations in chart 3, all but one typically require a bachelor’s degree or more education at the entry level. 

View Chart Data

Chart 3. Median annual wages in selected engineering-related occupations, 2016
Occupation Median annual wage, 2016 New jobs, projected 2016–26 Entry-level education Work experience in a related occupation On-the-job training

Architectural and engineering managers

$134,730 9,900 Bachelor's degree 5 years or more None

Sales engineers

$100,000 5,200 Bachelor's degree None Moderate-term on-the-job training

Engineering teachers, postsecondary

$97,530 6,900 Doctoral or professional degree None None

Engineering technicians, except drafters

$57,310 19,500 Associate's degree None None
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics program (wages), Employment Projections program (typical entry-level requirements and new jobs projected).

 

Chart 3 shows that the median annual wages for these engineering-related occupations, like wages for engineers, were higher than the median for all workers in 2016. Together, the occupations in the chart are projected to add 41,500 jobs over the 2016–26 decade.

For more information

Read more about engineers and related careers in the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). The OOH provides information on hundreds of occupations, including descriptions of the work performed, skills needed, and job prospects.

Detailed employment and wage data for engineering occupations by industry and geographic location are available from the Occupational Employment Statistics survey.

O*NET has a searchable database with additional information on occupations, such as interests and technology skills needed. You can search occupations by career cluster, outlook, and other criteria.

About the Author

Elka Torpey is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. She can be reached at torpey.elka@bls.gov .

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Suggested citation:

Elka Torpey, "Engineers: Employment, pay, and outlook," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 2018.

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