How much money 19 types of engineers actually earn

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electrical engineerGoran Bogicevic/Shutterstock

  • An engineer's salary varies according to specialization.
  • In many cases, engineering can be a lucrative career.
  • We used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to rank annual salaries for 19 engineering specializations.

Engineering can be a lucrative career, and different specializations offer different levels of compensation.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Employment Statistics program provides an annual guide to median pay and number of people employed in about 800 detailed occupations. We used that data to compare the median annual salaries associated with 19 engineering occupations.

Here are those occupations ranked by median engineer salary as of May 2017, along with the number of Americans employed in that occupation and a brief description of what each type of engineer does from the Department of Labor's O*NET Online occupational database.
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19. Agricultural engineers

19. Agricultural engineers

Median annual salary: $74,780

Total number of employees in the US: 1,770

What they do: Apply knowledge of engineering technology and biological science to agricultural problems.

18. Civil engineers

18. Civil engineers

Median annual salary: $84,770

Total number of employees in the US: 298,910

What they do: Perform engineering duties in planning, designing, and overseeing construction and maintenance of building structures and facilities.

16 (tie). Industrial engineers

16 (tie). Industrial engineers

Median annual salary: $85,880

Total number of employees in the US: 265,520

What they do: Design, develop, test, and evaluate integrated systems for managing industrial production processes.

16 (tie). Mechanical engineers

16 (tie). Mechanical engineers

Median annual salary: $85,880

Total number of employees in the US: 291,290

What they do: Perform engineering duties in planning and designing tools, engines, machines, and other mechanically functioning equipment.

15. Environmental engineers

15. Environmental engineers

Median annual salary: $86,800

Total number of employees in the US: 52,640

What they do: Research, design, plan, or perform engineering duties in the prevention, control, and remediation of environmental hazards using various engineering disciplines.

14. Biomedical engineers

14. Biomedical engineers

Median annual salary: $88,040

Total number of employees in the US: 20,100

What they do: Apply knowledge of engineering, biology, and biomechanical principles to the design, development, and evaluation of biological and health systems and products.

13. Health and safety engineers

13. Health and safety engineers

Median annual salary: $88,510

Total number of employees in the US: 26,130

What they do: Promote worksite or product safety by applying knowledge of industrial processes, mechanics, chemistry, psychology, and industrial health and safety laws.

12. Marine engineers and naval architects

12. Marine engineers and naval architects

Median annual salary: $90,970

Total number of employees in the US: 10,960

What they do: Design, develop, and evaluate the operation of marine vessels, ship machinery, and related equipment.

11. Mining and geological engineers

11. Mining and geological engineers

Median annual salary: $94.240

Total number of employees in the US: 6,150

What they do: Conduct sub-surface surveys to identify the characteristics of potential land or mining development sites.

10. Materials engineers

10. Materials engineers

Median annual salary: $94,610

Total number of employees in the US: 27,200

What they do: Evaluate materials and develop machinery and processes to manufacture materials for use in products that must meet specialized design and performance specifications.

9. Electrical engineers

9. Electrical engineers

Median annual salary: $95,060

Total number of employees in the US: 183,370

What they do: Research, design, develop, test, or supervise the manufacturing and installation of electrical equipment, components, or systems.

8. Sales engineers

8. Sales engineers

Median annual salary: $98,720

Total number of employees in the US: 70,820

What they do: Sell business goods or services, the selling of which requires a technical background equivalent to a baccalaureate degree in engineering.

7. Chemical engineers

7. Chemical engineers

Median annual salary: $102,160

Total number of employees in the US: 33,500

What they do: Design chemical plant equipment and devise processes for manufacturing chemicals and products.

6. Electronics engineers

6. Electronics engineers

Median annual salary: $102,180

Total number of employees in the US: 134,930

What they do: Research, design, develop, or test electronic components and systems for commercial, industrial, military, or scientific use employing knowledge of electronic theory and materials properties.

5. Nuclear engineers

5. Nuclear engineers

Median annual salary: $105,810

Total number of employees in the US: 16,700

What they do: Conduct research on nuclear engineering projects or apply principles and theory of nuclear science to problems concerned with release, control, and use of nuclear energy and nuclear waste disposal.

4. Aerospace engineers

4. Aerospace engineers

Median annual salary: $113,030

Total number of employees in the US: 65,760

What they do: Perform engineering duties in designing, constructing, and testing aircraft, missiles, and spacecraft.

3. Computer hardware engineers

3. Computer hardware engineers

Median annual salary: $115,120

Total number of employees in the US: 66,770

What they do: Research, design, develop, or test computer or computer-related equipment for commercial, industrial, military, or scientific use.

2. Petroleum engineers

2. Petroleum engineers

Median annual salary: $132,280

Total number of employees in the US: 32,010

What they do: Devise methods to improve oil and gas extraction and production and determine the need for new or modified tool designs.

1. Architectural and engineering managers

1. Architectural and engineering managers

Median annual salary: $137,720

Total number of employees in the US: 179,900

What they do: Plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as architecture and engineering or research and development in these fields.

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