Cold logic, bristling curiosity, insatiable work ethic and practical creativity –if you have these traits, you are destined to become a successful engineer.
But, what type of engineer should you be? There are dozens of fields of engineering desperate for quality engineering professionals, but a handful have always been more popular among engineering students than the rest. If you want a high-paying job that uses your personality and talents to the fullest, here’s what you need to know about your best options in engineering:
Perhaps what most people think of when they hear “engineering,” mechanical engineering consists of designing, building or maintaining machines. These machines range widely in size and complexity, in how they use or produce power and in their materials and purposes. Arguably, mechanical engineers were the first of the engineering field, making significant contributions like pulleys, levers and wheels.
What can you do with a mechanical engineering degree today? The modern world relies on machines, and there is no shortage of demand for mechanical engineers. Many mechanical engineers find work in manufacturing, helping design optimally efficient factory equipment. However, perhaps the most exciting modern application of mechanical engineering is robotics, building the autonomous machines of the future.
Electrical engineers, or double-Es, focus their efforts on – you guessed it – electricity. Specifically, double-Es build electricity-generating or consuming components in small devices as well as in largescale electrical systems.
In any field that uses electricity in its products or services, electrical engineers are mandatory. This means that almost every engineering firm has at least one double-E on staff. These days, many electrical engineers are hard at work cleaning current systems of power generation; for example, electrical engineers are largely responsible for the improvement of electric motors, which drive electric vehicles. However, double-Es also work on radar and navigation systems, broadcast communications systems, electronic devices and even weapons.
Unlike mechanical and electrical engineers, who largely work with machines and devices, chemical engineers work on a more micro level, modifying chemical components to develop brand-new materials. Chemical engineering is another original field of engineering, arising from Industrial Revolution.
Some of the largest and most powerful industries rely heavily on chemical engineers to design, transform and process chemicals. Perhaps the largest employer of chemical engineers, the pharmaceutical industry needs trained professionals to develop drugs – and develop new ways of creating drugs more efficiently and affordably.
Considering the explosive growth of tech within the past few decades, it should hardly be surprising that computer engineering is a popular field. In truth, there are two types of computer engineers: hardware and software engineers. Hardware engineers are more often called computer engineers; they build the physical components that make devices like laptops and smartphones, run. Often, hardware engineers work alongside other engineers, like mechanical and electrical engineers, to produce a fully functioning device.
Meanwhile, software engineers develop applications that run on devices. Distinct from programmers and software developers, who usually have less training, software engineers are responsible for the plan and design of a program, which entails everything from functionality to user accessibility to graphic design. Because software is proving to be a lucrative field, you can almost be guaranteed a high starting salary in this field.
Perhaps the most specific of the popular fields on this list, aerospace engineering consists of designing, building and updating machines that fly. This is a wider field than you might expect; in addition to spacecraft and commercial airplanes, aerospace engineers also develop satellites, missiles, private aircraft and any vehicle that enjoys sustained flight in (or outside of) Earth’s atmosphere. It is possible to study another field of engineering, like mechanical, computer or electrical, and find employment in the aerospace industry.
Human civilization did not grow from anything; the streets, sewage systems and skyscrapers of our cities were not always there for humans to find. Rather, modern civilization is comfortable, attractive and functional due to the endless toil of civil engineers. Civil engineers are engaged with the planning and optimization of infrastructure projects, which means most have their fingers in several different engineering pies.
You should consider civil engineering if you are interested in shaping the world most people live in. Civil engineers solve problems affecting great masses of people, and they collaborate with dozens of other types of professionals, including engineers, to make people’s lives easier and better.