Engineering is a growing field with great earning potential. This makes it a popular STEM major across the United States, with over 200,000 degrees awarded in 2019.
There are many engineering specialties that students can focus on, suiting a wide range of interests and potential career paths. Learning more about the different types of engineering could help you choose which degree will be best for you.
The top 5 engineering degrees in the U.S.
There are dozens of different engineering degrees available in the United States. Here’s a closer look at the five most popular:
1. Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical engineering is a broad branch of engineering, which involves working with devices in motion. Graduates might design and manufacture individual components or entire complex systems. They also work in a wide range of industries, including automotive, nanotechnology, aerospace, and many more.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data predicts that employment in mechanical engineering will grow 4% from 2019 to 2029 (about the average for all occupations). Mechanical engineers can expect to make a median salary of around $90,000 per year.
2. Electrical Engineering
Electrical engineers focus on electronics and other electrical equipment. Graduates entering this field might design, test, and maintain both small and large projects—anything from tiny microchips to huge power station generators.
Employment growth for electrical engineering is projected to reach 5% from 2019 to 2029, according to BLS data, which is slightly faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual salary for electrical engineers is around $100,000.
3. Civil Engineering
Civil engineering is the oldest branches of engineering, concerning itself with designing, constructing, and maintaining various physical structures that are used by the public. Graduates might work on buildings, bridges, dams, public transit systems, roads, tunnels, and many other projects. Many civil engineers today focus on sustainability and eco-friendly building practices.
BLS data projects civil engineering employment to grow by 2% from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations. Civil engineers had a median salary of over $88,000 in 2020.
4. Computer Engineering
Computer engineering entails the design and development of computer hardware, software, and hardware-software integrations. This branch combines the skills and knowledge of mechanical engineering and computer science into one field.
Data from the BLS for computer hardware engineering predicts slower than average growth at 2% from 2019 to 2029. People working as a computer hardware engineer can make a median annual salary of just under $120,000.
5. Chemical Engineering
Chemical engineering uses a combination of chemistry, biology, math, and physics to design and manufacture materials and products. Graduates might work on a wide range of products, including fuels, pharmaceuticals, and food. Many chemical engineers today focus on creating more sustainable and eco-friendly products for home and industrial uses.
Employment prospects for chemical engineers is expected to grow by 4% from 2019 to 2029, according to BLS data. The median salary for chemical engineers is just over $108,000 per year.
Where are students studying engineering in the U.S.?
There are many excellent colleges and universities where students can complete a bachelor’s degree in engineering. The following is a list of the top 10 schools for completing an engineering degree:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Stanford University
- University of California – Berkeley
- Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
- California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
- Carnegie Mellon University
- University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
- University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
- Cornell University
- Purdue University – West Lafayette
The above schools are highly competitive with stellar reputations. However, there are hundreds of other colleges and universities where you can get a quality education while completing your engineering degree.
How do engineers protect themselves in the field?
Engineers working in all branches of the field should consider protecting themselves against liability claims while on the job. A simple mistake, missed deadline or undelivered services could result in a financial loss for a client. If they decide to file a lawsuit, you could be financially responsible for thousands of dollars in legal fees (if not more).
Professional Liability insurance for engineers is one way to help protect yourself. Also known as Errors and Omissions (E&O) insurance, this type of policy protects your business against claims of negligence, misrepresentations, or mistakes. Professional Liability claims are typically made by clients who allege some form of financial damage as a result of your services, products or employees.
Choosing your engineering major
There are many options for students pursuing a degree in engineering. No matter what your interests are, there is likely an area of focus to suit your likes and many colleges offering your desired major.
Interested in Professional Liability for engineers? Learn more about protecting yourself on the job.