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The median worker across all occupations in the United States earns close to $46,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median engineer earns more than twice that annual salary — $99,040.
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If building, designing and problem solving are your thing, and if your brain is geared toward precision and exact specifications, the field of engineering can make you rich. Every job on this list pays six figures, with several commanding three times the country’s median wage or close to it — and that’s just the engineer in the middle of the pack.
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Median salary: $101,783
Electrical engineers can work in industries ranging from telecommunications to life sciences to aerospace, developing, testing, and producing electrical systems and equipment.
The highest-earning 10% pull in more than $160,000 — even those among the lowest-earning 10% make tens of thousands more per year than the median worker across all occupations. Electrical engineers make the most when they work in navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing.
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Median salary: $105,550
If you pursue a career in chemical engineering, you might work with applications as varied as fuel, food and medicine — and you can get rich doing it. If you make it into the top 10% of earners, you can expect to make $187,000 or more. You’ll earn the most if you go into the field of engineering services — in that industry, the median salary for electrical engineers is more than $152,000.
Median salary: $103,710
One of the most unique positions in the engineering world is also one of the most profitable. As the title implies, sales engineers are tasked with selling highly complex works of engineering to companies, manufacturers and governmental agencies. Like most salespeople, sales engineers tend to work on commission, which means their ability to earn depends on their skill in scouting leads and converting prospects into customers.
Those commissions, however, are high. Sales engineers in the top 10% earn upwards of $182,000 or more.
Median salary: $120,380
Nuclear engineers earn the most in the scientific research and development services industry, where the median nuclear engineer pulls in nearly $152,000. Earners in the top 10% among all nuclear engineers make at least $169,000. The federal government employs the largest percentage of nuclear engineers, with scientific research and development services not far behind. It is, however, an occupation on the decline. Job growth is projected at minus-8% between 2020 and 2030, compared to growing 8% for all occupations.
Median salary: $122,270
Missiles, satellites, aircraft and spacecraft are all in the realm of the world’s aerospace engineers. The median earner pulls in more than $123,000 in the three highest-earning industries:
The highest-earning 10% in the field take home salaries in excess of $168,000, and the occupation is expected to grow at the same rate as all occupations, about 8% by 2030.
Median salary: $128,170
The highest-earning computer hardware engineers, those in the top 10%, make more than $208,000 a year. The largest percentage of computer engineers, more than one in five, work in the field of computer systems design and related services — although many more are employed in the production of semiconductors and other electrical components. If you really want to get rich in this field, consider research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences, where the median computer hardware engineer earns nearly $165,000.
Median salary: $130,850
The big business of energy pays big bucks to the engineers who have the skills and experience to wrest oil and gas from beneath the surface of Earth. These engineers often travel all over the world to far-flung locations where oil is or might be located — and they earn big bucks along the way.
The top 10% of earners rake in more than $208,000 per year. When they manage companies and enterprises, the median pay is $165,480. When they provide engineering services, it’s more like $127,240.
Median salary: $152,350
Even the architectural and engineering managers who are among the lowest tenth percentile of earners make more than triple what the median wage earner across all occupations earns in the United States. Those in the top 10% make more than $208,000 a year directing and coordinating the activities of engineers, architects and the firms that employ them.
They make the most working in the scientific research and development services industry, where the median salary is nearly $187,240.
All salary data is from the BLS.
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