The average engineer salary is $87,370 per year or $42.01 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).
The median annual wage is lower at $80,170 per year or $38.55 per hour. This is 107% higher than the median annual wage for all jobs. These numbers consider all architecture and engineering occupations.
If you become an engineer, it’s easy to make much more than the average or median salary. Your years of experience, specialty, and location significantly impact your earning potential.
Highest and Lowest Average Engineer Salary
The BLS reports the highest and lowest salaries for engineers, which are as follows:
- The lowest 10% of engineers earn less than $44,360 per year
- The top 10% of engineers earn more than $139,320
Average Engineer Salary by Specialty
Engineers take up a specialty during their college years and may choose to stay in that specialty post-graduation or find a job in a more specialized field. All engineering fields pay well, but some fields pay much more than others. For reference, the field of engineering as a whole has a median annual wage of $80,170 per year.
Aerospace Engineers Average Salary
Aerospace engineers design, construct, and test missiles, spacecraft, and aircraft. Aerospace engineers earn a median pay of $115,220 per year. Eighty percent of aerospace engineers earn between $71,640 to $164,210 per year.
Agricultural Engineers Average Salary
Agricultural engineers use a combination of engineering and biology knowledge to solve problems relating to soil and water conservation, machinery, structures, and more. This field of engineering pays much less than others with a median wage of $77,110 per year. The lowest 10% earn less than 46,500 per year and the top 10% earn upwards of $116,850 per year.
Biomedical Engineers Average Salary
Biomedical engineers work to design, develop, and evaluate health systems products like prostheses, medical instruments, and artificial organs. Median pay for biomedical engineers is $88,550 per year with the top 10% earning more than $144,350 and the lowest 10% earning less than $51,890.
Chemical Engineers Average Salary
Chemical engineers design equipment and processes for creating gas, rubber, detergents, paper, cement, etc. They’re compensated fairly with a median salary of $104,910. Eighty percent of chemical engineers earn between $64,890 and $169,770.
Civil Engineers Average Salary
Civil engineers plan and design roads, railroads, bridges, dams, pipelines, powerplants, and other types of buildings and facilities. Median pay for chemical engineers is $86,640. The top 10% earn more than $142,560 and the lowest 10% earn less than $54,780.
Computer Hardware Engineers Average Salary
Computer hardware engineers design and test computer equipment. These engineers earn a median pay of $114,600 per year. The top 10% earn more than $172,630, making computer hardware engineering one of the highest paying engineering fields.
Electrical Engineer Average Salary
Electrical engineers study and design electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism to create electrical equipment and components. They earn a median salary of $96,640. Eighty percent of electrical engineers earn between $61,190 and $153,240.
Electronics Engineer Average Salary (Excluding Computer Hardware Engineers)
Electronics engineers use knowledge of electronic theory and materials properties to design electronic circuits and components used in industries like telecommunications, acoustics, or instruments. The median salary for electronics engineers is $102,700. Earning potential in this field is high too. The top 10% earn upwards of $162,200.
Environmental Engineer Average Salary
Environmental engineers work to prevent, control, and remediate environmental hazards. They might design a sewage treatment plant or pollution control technology. Environmental engineers earn a median salary of $87,620. Eighty percent earn between $53,180 and $137,090.
Health and Safety Engineers Average Salary
Health and safety engineers use engineering principles to keep worksites and products safe. This specialty has a median salary of $89,130 per year with the lowest 10% earning less than $53,170 and the top 10% earning more than $142,970.
Industrial Engineers Average Salary
Industrial engineers work to cut back on wastefulness and maximize efficiency in the production process. They do this by creating optimized systems that integrate people, money, materials, machines, power, and information. Industrial engineers earn a median wage of $87,040. Relative to other engineering fields, the earning potential for industrial engineers isn’t as high, but the top 10% still earn more than $132,340.
Marine Engineers & Naval Architects Average Salary
Marine engineers design and develop ship machinery, marine vessels, and other equipment like propulsion systems and power supplies. The median salary for marine engineers is $92,560. If you choose this field, you could earn more than $148,950, which is the 90th percentile wage estimate.
Materials Engineer Average Salary
Materials engineers develop new uses for materials and the machinery used to manufacture materials. In this field, you can specialize in one type of material like graphite, metal, ceramics, glass, or plastics. Materials engineers earn a median annual wage of $92,390 with the lowest 10% earning less than $57,110 per year and the top 10% earning more than $148,110 per year.
Mechanical Engineers Average Salary
This specialty centers around the planning and designing of machines, engineers, and tools. Mechanical engineers earn a median salary of $87,370. More experienced mechanical engineers earn upwards of $136,550, which is the 90th percentile wage estimate.
Mining, Mining Safety, and Geological Engineers Average Salary
Engineers in this specialty design mines and other underground structures with the goal of promoting worker safety and mining efficiency. Mining, mining safety, and geological engineers earn an annual median salary of $92,250. Entry-level engineers in this field earn around $54,550 and the more experienced engineers earn upwards of $151,030.
Nuclear Engineers Average Salary
Nuclear engineers solve problems regarding the release, control, and use of nuclear waste disposal and nuclear energy. They also research nuclear engineering projects. Nuclear engineers earn a median annual salary of $107,600. The top 10% earn upwards of $162,360.
Petroleum Engineers Average Salary
Petroleum engineers improve gas and oil extraction and production, create new tools for the extraction process, and oversee drilling. The median annual pay for petroleum engineers is $137,170. Ninety percent of petroleum engineers make more than $74,270 per year. The top 10% earn upwards of $208,000. This specialty has the highest median salary and the highest earning potential of all engineering fields.
Average Engineer Salary by Industry
Specialty certainly has a huge influence on your potential earnings as an engineer but so does the industry that you choose to work in. Choose a high-paying industry if you want to maximize earnings.
Average Engineer Salary in the Top-Paying Industries
According to the BLS, engineers working in the following industries make the most money:
- Oil and Gas Extraction: $134,350 average annual salary
- Pipeline Transportation of Crude Oil: $118,270 average annual salary
- Software Publishers: $114,730 average annual salary
- Grantmaking and Giving Services: $114,600 average annual salary
- Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing: $113,310 average annual salary
Seeing as only 1.3 percent of engineers (33,100) work in the highest-paying industries, your odds of landing a job in one of the top five highest paying industries aren’t great. However, several industries employ more than 100,000 engineers each and pay well over $100,000 on average like the federal government, aerospace product and parts manufacturing, and scientific research and development services.
Average Engineer Salary in the Lowest-Paying Industries
These are some of the lowest paying industries for engineers as of May 2018:
- Individual and Family Services: $37,640 average annual salary
- Building Material and Supplies Dealers: $51,200 average annual salary
- Building Material and Garden Equipment Supplies Dealers: $52,250 average annual salary
- Theater Companies and Dinner Theaters: $52,460 average annual salary
- Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals: $53,910 average annual salary
Average Engineer Salary in the Most Popular Industry
It’s not much of a surprise that the Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services industry employs the most engineers. On average, engineers in this industry earn $82,150 per year or $39.49 per hour. The top 10% of engineers in this industry earn upwards of $132,710 per year.
Average Engineer Salary by State and City
Location plays a role in how much an engineer earns too. For reference, the national average engineer salary is $87,370.
States with the Highest Average Engineer Salary
The BLS identifies the following as the top five states/territories that pay engineers the most on average:
- District of Columbia: $110,200 average annual salary
- Alaska: $106,000 average annual salary
- California: $100,800average annual salary
- Texas: $98,500 average annual salary
- Maryland: $98,250 average annual salary
A higher salary is great, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to save more or put more toward your student loans. States that pay more typically have a higher cost of living. For example, D.C., California, Alaska, and Maryland are the 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th most expensive states to live in according to CNBC.
Cities with the Highest Average Engineer Salary
The city you live in also affects your earning potential. The BLS identifies the following cities as the top-paying metropolitan areas for engineers:
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $117,010 average annual salary
- Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX: $111,920 average annual salary
- California-Lexington Park, MD: $109,120 average annual salary
- Anchorage, AK: $108,490 average annual salary
- Kennewick-Richland, WA: $106,550 average annual salary
States with the Lowest Average Engineer Salary
Some states pay engineers much less. Here are lowest-paying states for engineers:
- South Dakota: $68,120 average annual salary
- Arkansas: $70,990 average annual salary
- Wisconsin: $72,370 average annual salary
- Montana: $72,370 average annual salary
- Iowa: $72,380 average annual salary
Is Becoming an Engineer Worth It?
Engineers need at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering to work as an engineer. If you want to earn the professional engineer (PE) license, the program must be accredited by the ABET. For some specialties, students interested in working as an instructor, as a manager, or in research and development benefit from earning a master’s or doctorate degree.
While earning the required education, many engineering students take on a burdensome amount of debt. The average bachelor’s degree recipient leaves school with $28,500 in debt according to College Board.
Is all that debt worth it?
In general, engineering is an excellent field to go into. NACE’s annual starting salary survey, which collects data from employers to calculate projected starting salaries for all college majors, found that engineers are the highest paid recent graduates. The average salary projection for engineering graduates is $66,521. From this, it’s clear that if you pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering, it certainly pays off.
But, is that enough to be able to pay back your student loans? A study by Credible.com suggests that engineering graduates should have no trouble paying off their debt. Their study calculated the student debt-to-income (DTI) ratio for different degree programs. Those who studied engineering have a 6.88% debt-to-income ratio compared to the average 9.96% DTI for all undergraduate students. Only those with a bachelor’s degree in economics had a lower DTI.
With a degree in engineering, you’re putting yourself in one of the best possible positions to be able to pay back your student loans. You would also be more able to take on additional debt like a mortgage, credit card, rent, or a car loan.
Engineers also shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job. From 2016 to 2016, the BLS predicts that employment for engineers will increase seven percent, which is about as fast as average. This means an additional 194,300 jobs in the field of engineering and architecture. A lot of this growth is predicted to take place in areas like infrastructure, oil and gas extraction, robotics, and renewable energy. If you’re concerned with finding a job after graduation, focus your degree or internship experience around one of those fields.
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Compare the Best Student Loan Refinance Rates
Here are our top student loan refinance picks for 2019
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Student Debt Relief Loan Refinancing Advertiser Disclosure
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. (1)College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine. (2)The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as the borrower or cosigner, if applicable, enrolls in auto-pay and authorizes our loan servicer to automatically deduct your monthly payments from a valid bank account via Automated Clearing House (“ACH”). The rate reduction applies for as long as the monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during periods of forbearance and certain deferments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. (3)$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees. Information advertised valid as of 9/24/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. (4)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 9/24/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
ELFI: Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. To qualify for refinancing or student loans consolidation through ELFI, you must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt and must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved post-secondary institution.
LendKey: Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
CommonBond: Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate.
Splash Financial: Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval.com
Earnest: To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest’s fixed-rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with autopay) to 7.89% APR (with autopay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with autopay) to 7.27% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms of 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 0.26% and 5.03% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 23, 2019 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay Discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/23/19. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice.
Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 303 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.