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The 8 Best Engineering Jobs

Geoff Williams

Engineering jobs offer a lot of opportunity.

Engineers run things. Trains, yes, but engineers also keep our infrastructure operational, fixing and improving roads, tunnels and bridges. Those would be civil engineers.

There are also biomedical engineers, who design computer software. Environment engineers keep toxins out of our air. When you think about it, society would be kind of lost without engineers.

Which explains why these are jobs that tend to pay well. The following top engineering jobs are drawn from the U.S. News Best Jobs rankings. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Mechanical Engineer

Median salary: $87,370
Education needed: Bachelor's degree
Projected job growth by 2028: 4.1%

Do you ever look at machines and think, "Who built that?" It was a mechanical engineer. Much of the equipment they build, whether it's an escalator, elevator, turbines or an air-conditioning system, will probably end up in factories, warehouses, airports -- you name it -- but engineers likely work in an office. They have a hand in designing, developing, building and testing machines.

Some of the many fields they work in include architecture, alternative energies, remanufacturing (generally rebuilding old machines and turning them into something else) and nanotechnology.

Learn more about mechanical engineers.

Civil Engineer

Median salary: $86,640
Education needed: Bachelor's degree
Projected job growth by 2028: 6.3%

Civil engineers build bridges, roads, dams, tunnels and buildings. If you watch the news and listen to politicians, they're often talking about the importance of maintaining and building infrastructure.

Being a civil engineer means that you'll often work in an office -- but also on the job site of whatever structure you're creating, so you can monitor constructive progress and solve any structural problems that turn up. It's also a career that requires knowledge in math and possibly chemistry and physics, depending what your specialty is. While a bachelor's degree is needed, some positions may require a master's degree.

Learn more about civil engineers.

Environmental Engineer

Median salary: $87,620
Education needed: Bachelor's degree
Projected job growth by 2028: 5.1%

Worried that a construction project might pollute a waterway? Concerned about some erosion affecting a road? Hope to improve public health or a recycling program? You might call in an environmental engineer.

Environmental engineers do what their job titles suggest -- they protect the environment from man-made problems. They need to understand everything from soil science, biology and chemistry to the raft of federal and local regulations that often come with these projects. And sometimes, environmental engineers help come up with regulations that industries need to adhere to.

Learn more about environmental engineers.

Cartographer

Median salary: $64,430
Education needed: Bachelor's degree
Projected job growth by 2028: 14.7%

Cartographers are mapmakers, and while it sounds like a dying field, it's thriving. Somebody has to create all those smartphone maps, after all.

It's true that cartographers may not draw maps the way they used to -- they're much more likely to be involved in working on a map's software development than putting a pen to paper.

You also may end up becoming or calling yourself a photogrammetrist; they specialize in making measurements from photographs. That's helpful for creating maps that are made from photographs.

According to the BLS, much of what's driving cartographer and photogrammetrist employment is "due to the increasing use of maps in government planning." It probably also doesn't hurt that maps are always in need of updating.

Learn more about cartographers.

Environmental Engineering Technician

Median salary: $50,560
Education needed: Associate degree
Projected job growth by 2028: 8.6%

An environmental engineering technician is to an environmental engineer what a crime lab technician is to a detective. The sleuth may solve the crime, but it would be impossible without the technician toiling away, analyzing clues such as DNA and fingerprints.

In the same way, an environmental engineering technician is often integral to solving environmental mysteries. The environmental engineering technician may be in the laboratory, testing water samples that the environmental engineer collected out in the field. The technician might also be asked to go out to a river or a meadow and collect samples for testing. It's important work that not just anybody can do. You might, for instance, help solve an air pollution problem or inspect a building believed to have asbestos or lead in the walls.

Learn more about environmental engineering technicians.

Architect

Median salary: $79,380
Education needed: Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth by 2028: 8.4%

Architects create buildings -- or, rather, they create the blueprints that a construction firm will use when building. Sometimes they're conventional structures, like a supermarket, and sometimes they're stately pieces of artistic work, like an opera house or perhaps an ornate library.

Architects often have to meet competing goals, such as making sure the building can be developed within a certain price range and ensuring the building materials are eco-friendly. You might be asked to design a building that's hurricane proof. Making something amazing, eco-friendly and impervious to extreme weather -- and staying under budget -- isn't easy.

Learn more about architects.

Petroleum Engineer

Median salary: $137,170
Education needed: Bachelor's degree
Projected job growth by 2028: 2.6%

If you're successful at this, you could make a lot of companies rich. You may not do so bad yourself.

Petroleum engineers design the equipment that makes oil extraction possible, among other things, such as developing equipment and plans to find oil in the ocean and oil and gas fields. It's a job, as you can imagine, that requires a lot of knowledge in math and sciences such as chemistry and geology.

If you work in this job, you'll probably work in an office -- but one near a drilling site.

Learn more about petroleum engineers.

Biomedical Engineer

Median salary: $88,550
Education needed: Bachelor's degree
Projected job growth by 2028: 3.6%

If there's a pandemic in the world, or a local medical crisis, a biomedical engineer is probably involved in some way. They use their engineering skills to design and create medical equipment, like a hazmat suit or a replacement for body parts, like a hip or knee joint. They may help create a new drug therapy. They might try to solve a knotty medical problem such as working on cancer research.

In short, they work on solutions to biological and medical problems.

While a bachelor's degree is often enough for a biomedical engineer, some jobs may require a graduate degree.

Learn about biomedical engineers.

These are the best engineering jobs:

-- Mechanical engineer

-- Civil engineer.

-- Environmental engineer.

-- Cartographer.

-- Environmental engineering technician.

-- Architect.

-- Petroleum engineer.

-- Biomedical engineer.

See the full rankings.



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