Engineering Careers: Job Options, Job Titles, and Descriptions

Engineer examining wind turbine model in laboratory
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Engineering is a broad work category that refers to jobs that use science and mathematics to solve a variety of problems. Engineers work in disciplines that include mechanical, electrical, chemical, civil, and environmental engineering, among others.

Because engineering is such a broad field, there are many engineering job titles. Read below for an extensive list of engineering job titles, and a description of what the job involves. But before you get started, find out if engineering is the career that's right for you.

Engineer Educational Requirements

Most engineer positions require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a field of engineering related to the job. However, certain positions only require an associate degree or specialized apprenticeship training; these include roles like boiler engineers, stationary engineers, and welding engineers.

Engineer positions pay well, and many engineering jobs have a strong job outlook.

Engineering Job Titles and Position Descriptions

Below is a list of some of the most common engineering job titles, as well as a description of each. For more information about each job title, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers design aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missile systems. They also analyze, design, and test prototypes to make sure that they function according to design.

Related job titles:

  • Aerospace Engineer
  • Materials Engineer
  • Reliability Engineer
  • Research and Development Engineer

Salary: The 2020 median pay for aerospace engineers was $118,610 per year.

Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers work in both the biological and medical sciences. They design, create, and improve a number of solutions related to health care. These might include medical equipment like MRI machines, healthcare computer systems, or medical innovations like prosthetics and artificial organs.

Related job titles:

  • Biological Engineer
  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Quality Assurance Engineer
  • Quality Control Engineer
  • Quality Engineer
  • R&D Engineer

Salary: The 2020 median pay for biomedical engineers was $92,620 per year.

Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers work with physics, mathematics, and biology to solve problems related to a variety of substances. They design and implement systems that control how substances interact with one another. They also create processes to improve products ranging from fuel to food to medications.

Related job titles:

  • Chemical Engineer
  • Metallurgical Engineer
  • Mining Engineer
  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Plastics Engineer

Salary: The 2020 median pay for chemical engineers was $108,540 per year.

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers plan, design, build, and maintain various structures. These might include roads, buildings, bridges, or systems for water or sewage treatment. They often spend time outdoors managing a construction site.

Related job titles:

  • Chief Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Commissioning Engineer
  • Construction Engineer
  • Contract Engineer
  • Drilling Engineer
  • Fire Protection Engineer
  • Piping Engineer
  • Piping Stress Engineer
  • Planning Engineer
  • Reservoir Engineer
  • Structural Engineer
  • Welding Engineer

Salary: The 2020 median pay for civil engineers was $88,570 per year.

Electrical Engineer

Electrical engineers and electronics engineers design, develop, and manage the manufacturing of electrical and electronic equipment. These include equipment such as GPS systems, lighting systems, robotics, remote-controlled systems, and more.

Related job titles:

  • Electrical Design Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Electrical Field Engineer
  • Electro-Mechanical Engineer
  • Electronics Engineer (non-computer)
  • Instrumentation Engineer
  • I&C Engineer
  • Product Design / Development Engineer
  • Product Engineer
  • Radio Frequency (RF) Engineer
  • SCADA Engineer
  • Senior Electrical Engineer
  • Substation Engineer
  • Transmission Engineer
  • Transmission Planning Engineer

Salary: The 2020 median pay for electrical and electronics engineers was $103,390 per year.

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers work in the biological, chemical, and environmental sciences to solve problems related to the environment. They might develop and implement systems related to waste disposal, water and air pollution control, farming operations, or public health. They typically work for the federal, state, or local government, or for a consulting service.

Related job titles:

  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Environmental Compliance Engineer
  • Environmental Health & Safety Engineer
  • Geological Engineer
  • Health & Safety Engineer
  • Mining Safety Engineer
  • Protection Engineer
  • Safety Engineer

Salary: The 2020 median pay for environmental engineers was $92,120 per year.

Industrial Engineer

Industrial engineers work to improve processes or systems. They strive to eliminate waste, including wasted time, money, materials, energy, or other resources. They might work for a manufacturing plant, or work as consultants.

Related job titles:

  • Compliance Engineer
  • Component Engineer
  • Controls Engineer
  • Cost Engineer
  • Design Engineer
  • Facilities Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Logistics Engineer
  • Maintenance Engineer
  • Manufacturing Engineer
  • Nuclear Engineer
  • Operations Engineer
  • Packaging Engineer
  • Performance Engineer
  • Plant Engineer
  • Process Control Engineer
  • Process Design Engineer
  • Process Engineer
  • Production Engineer
  • Project Controls Engineer
  • Project Engineer
  • Proposal Engineering Coordinator
  • Sales Engineer
  • Senior Manufacturing Engineer
  • Senior Process Engineer

Salary: The 2020 median pay for industrial engineers was $88,950 per year.

Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineers study motion, energy, and force to develop various solutions for mechanical systems. They often develop and improve small systems like sensors, or larger systems like machine tools.

Related job titles:

  • Automotive Engineer
  • Boiler Engineer
  • Ceramics Engineer
  • Equipment Engineer
  • High-Pressure Engineer
  • Marine Engineer
  • Mechanical Design Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Naval Architect
  • Pipeline Engineer
  • Power Engineer
  • Rotating Equipment Engineer
  • Senior Mechanical Engineer
  • Turbine Engineer
  • Validation Engineer

Salary: The 2020 median pay for mechanical engineers was $90,160 per year.

Software / Hardware Engineers

Hardware and software engineers design and create hardware and software systems for computers. They utilize math, science, engineering, and design techniques, and frequently have to test and evaluate their own systems as well as software built by other people.

Related job titles:

  • Application Engineer
  • Computer Hardware Engineer
  • Computer Software Engineer
  • Firmware Engineer
  • Frontend Engineer
  • Hardware Engineer
  • Network Engineer
  • Security Engineer
  • Software Engineer
  • Technical Support Engineer
  • Telecommunications Engineer
  • Test Engineer
  • User Interface (UI) Engineer

Salary: The 2020 median pay for software developers was $110,140 per year; for computer hardware engineers, $119,560 per year.

Software engineers are expected to see much faster job growth than average over the next 10 years: 22% vs. 8% for all occupations. Computer hardware engineers should see slower than average growth of 2% during the same time period.

Engineering Technician

For all of the job titles listed above, there are also corresponding engineering technician jobs. Engineering technicians work under the supervision of an engineer. They might help draw up designs, implement a design, or improve systems. Generally, an engineering technician does not require as much education and experience as an engineer. They need at least an associate degree.

Related job titles:

  • Drafting Technician
  • Engineering Aide
  • Engineering Clerk
  • Engineering Secretary
  • Engineering Technician
  • Field Service Engineer
  • Project Assistant
  • Staff Engineer
  • Staking Engineer
  • Stationery Engineer

Salary: Median pay is typically lower for technicians than it is for engineers. For example, the 2020 median annual pay for civil engineering technicians was $54,080 compared to $88,570 for civil engineers.

Key Takeaways

  • Engineering is a broad discipline with many job titles and areas of focus, including civil engineering, mechanical engineering, and software development.
  • Most engineering careers require at least a bachelor’s degree, although a few technician jobs require an associate degree or apprenticeship.
  • Engineering jobs tend to pay well and offer a solid occupational outlook; nearly all job titles in this field are projected to grow more quickly than the average.