Engineers apply scientific principles to practical problems, and turn theoretical discoveries into commercial products. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement, though some research positions require a graduate degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates an increase of 11 percent in the country’s 1.57 million engineers from 2008 to 2018. Salaries depend on the engineering field and employer.
Civil engineers handle the design and construction of public works projects such as airports, roads, harbors, bridges, power plants and sewer systems. Their median salary is $76,590 annually, with a range of $49,620 to $118,320. This breaks down to an hourly rate of $36.82 per hour, with a range of $23.86 to $56.88. The biggest employers of these professionals are architectural and engineering services, with 52 percent of the available 259,320 positions. They pay better than the median at $39.44 per hour or $82,040 per year. The highest paying employer is oil and gas extraction with compensation at $51.65 per hour or $107,430 per year. These figures come from (BLS) as of May 2009.
Biomedical engineers combine biomechanics, biology and engineering to create biological and health systems such as artificial organs, diagnostic instruments and health care delivery systems. They earn a median salary of $78,860 annually, with a range of $49,480 to $123,270. This translates to $37.92 per hour, with a range of $23.79 to $59.27. The biggest employers of biomedical engineers are manufacturers of medical equipment and supplies, with 23 percent of the available 14,760 positions. They pay close to the median at $39.23 per hour or $81,590 per year. The highest paying employers are services for management, scientific and technical consulting, with compensation at $49.53 per hour or $103,020 per year.
Industrial engineers develop, manage and evaluate systems for industrial production including inventory control, cost analysis and logistics. They make a median $75,110 per year, with a range from $48,840 to $109,220, or $36.11 per hour, with a range of $23.48 to $52.51. Their biggest employers are aerospace product and parts manufacturers, with almost eight percent of the available 209,300 positions. They pay better than the median at $38.11 per hour or $79,260 per year. The best paying employer is repair and maintenance for commercial and industrial machinery, with compensation at $49.60 per hour or $103,160 per year.
Nuclear engineers are concerned with the use and control of nuclear energy, and the disposal of nuclear waste. They make a median $96,910 salary per year, with a range of $66,590 to $140,140. This translates to an hourly rate of $46.59, with a range of $32.01 to $67.38. Their biggest employers are architectural and engineering services, with almost 17 percent of the available 16,710 jobs. They pay better than the median at $55.21 or $114,840. The highest paying employers are services for management, scientific and technical consulting, with pay at $56.09 hourly or $116,670.