While all engineers may share some common traits, such as mathematical skills and an acute aptitude for problem-solving, no two types of engineering careers are alike. The broad field of engineering encompasses myriad types of jobs, each presenting unique challenges and rewards. If you are considering pursuing an engineering career or changing engineering disciplines, read on to learn about four common types of engineering careers you can pursue.
Each of these careers requires at least a bachelor’s degree to enter the field. If you intend to pursue senior-level and management positions, you may also need a master’s degree in engineering in addition to years of experience.
Biomedical Engineering Career
Biomedical engineers contribute to products that hugely impact the quality of life for people all over the world. They work with clinicians to solve health problems related to cancer, epilepsy, paralysis, stroke, cardiac arrhythmias and more by designing diagnostic and therapeutic technologies.
Biomedical engineer job duties may include:1
- Design devices such as artificial internal organs, body-part replacements and diagnostic machines
- Install and maintain biomedical equipment, in addition to evaluating its safety and effectiveness and training clinicians on proper use
- Collaborate with chemists, life scientists and medical scientists
- Perform research and subsequently write technical reports and/or present findings to a variety of audiences, including engineers, hospital management and the public
U.S. News & World Report ranked biomedical engineer No. 6 on its list of Best Engineering Jobs, citing competitive salaries and a strong job market. In 2017, biomedical engineers earned a median salary of $88,040, while the 75th percentile of earners made $112,990.2
Learn more about the online Master of Science (MS) in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University, home to one of the nation’s top-ranked biomedical engineering graduate programs.
Mechanical Engineering Career
Mechanical engineering may be the broadest of all engineering disciplines. In a nutshell, a mechanical engineer researches, designs, builds, and tests mechanical devices, which can range from electric generators to batteries to steam and gas turbines to robots to ductwork. Almost all mechanical engineers use computer-aided design (CAD) software to design devices.
Mechanical engineer job duties may include:3
- Design complex mechanical equipment and products by developing and testing methods and specifications
- Prepare preliminary and final design studies, assessments, drawings, analysis, documentation reports, design calculations, technical specification provisions, and labor and material estimates for projects and equipment
- Check designs for proper interpretation and application of criteria to ensure that design drawings and analyses of design area are accurate
- Protect company and product reputation by complying with government regulations
U.S. News & World Report ranked mechanical engineer No. 3 on its list of Best Engineering Jobs, citing competitive salaries, a strong job market and work-life balance. In 2017, mechanical engineers earned a median salary of $85,880, while the 75th percentile of earners made $108,580.4
Explore the online Master of Science (MS) in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western Reserve.
Systems Engineering Career
The International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE) defines systems engineering as “a transdisciplinary and integrative approach to enable the successful realization, use, and retirement of engineered systems, using systems principles and concepts, and scientific, technological, and management methods.”5 Systems engineers take a big-picture approach to engineering, working with engineers from other disciplines to ensure that each part makes sense in a project’s overall scope.
Systems engineer job duties may include:
- Install, configure, test, maintain and troubleshoot application software, system management tools and operating systems6
- Create and maintain documentation related to system configuration, processes, mapping and service
- Collaborate with internal staff to ensure smooth, reliable operation of software and systems
- Work with executive team members, decision makers and stakeholders to define business requirements and systems goals and to identify and resolve business systems issues
Data from Robert Half lists the midpoint salary for systems engineers at $103,000.7 According to Sree Sreenath, a professor in Case Western Reserve University’s online Master of Science (MS) in Systems and Control Engineering, “A systems engineer understands everything. They’re able to help different engineers communicate with one another while ensuring that the overall objective of the project is met.”
Civil Engineering Career
The first subway in New York City. The Eiffel Tower. The reversal of the Chicago River. The ancient water supply system of Petra in Jordan. All of these feats have earned the designation of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Historical Civil Engineering Landmark, and they wouldn’t have been possible without the brilliant and creative minds of civil engineers throughout history.8
Civil engineers design, construct and maintain the building structures and infrastructure that power modern living, from roads, tunnels, dams and bridges to water supply and sewage treatment systems. Civil engineers may choose to specialize in an area such as transportation, construction, coastal, geotechnical, architectural or geotechnical engineering, among many others.
Civil engineer job duties may include:9
- Analyze survey reports and maps to plan and design projects
- Examine construction costs, potential environmental hazards and government regulations during risk-analysis and planning stages
- Use CAD software to plan and design hydraulic systems, transportation systems and structures that comply with standards
- Survey sites to determine building locations, reference points, site layouts, grades and elevations
Civil Engineer landed in the No. 2 position in U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best Engineering Jobs due to competitive salaries and a strong job market. In 2017, civil engineers earned a median salary of $84,770, while the 75th percentile of earners made $109,930.10
Discover Your Next Step
Which engineering career will you choose?
If you’re interested in exploring additional types of engineering careers, check out our blog, Top 10 Highest Paying Engineering Jobs and explore career outcomes for graduates of online master’s programs at the prestigious Case School of Engineering.
- Retrieved on July 29, 2019, from www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm#tab-2
- Retrieved on July 29, 2019, from money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/biomedical-engineer
- Retrieved on July 29, 2019, from hiring.monster.com/employer-resources/job-description-templates/mechanical-engineer-job-description-sample/
- Retrieved on July 29, 2019, from money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/mechanical-engineer
- Retrieved on July 29, 2019, from incose.org/about-systems-engineering/system-and-se-definition
- Retrieved on July 29, 2019, from resources.workable.com/systems-engineer-job-description
- Retrieved on July 29, 2019, from roberthalf.com/blog/salaries-and-skills/the-13-highest-paying-it-jobs-in-2019
- Retrieved on July 29, 2019, from asce.org/landmarks/#/e6ea0cd2d528ba2f3cdec3a624404fef
- Retrieved on July 29, 2019, from www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/civil-engineers.htm#tab-2
- Retrieved on July 29, 2019, from money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/civil-engineer