Engineering is a diverse profession that branches out into every industry that makes our world go round. For a high school student wanting to get into engineering, the choices can be rather daunting. While there is certainly the ability to change your mind later, picking the right degree from the get-go is always better. From electrical to civil engineering, every branch has subsets of technology that you can focus on. The key is finding which degree path you want so that when it comes time to find a job, you can find something that you want to do with your life. Let’s take a look at the various choices you have for an engineering education.
Mechanical engineering is by far the most popular of all of the engineering disciplines. This is mostly because the degree is so broad. With a mechanical engineering degree, you could end up working in any field, from aerospace to air conditioner design. Mechanical engineering focuses on the design, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. Mechanical engineers are constantly tasked with improving the function of machines or running analysis on complex components. While your options with a degree in mechanical engineering can be diverse, you can also choose aerospace, robotics, or industrial engineering depending upon the specialty you want to work in. However, if you haven’t made it that far in your life planning yet, a degree in mechanical engineering will set you down the right path.
Key components: stress analysis, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, mechanical design
Median income: $87,140
Civil engineering is the oldest form of engineering, with a close second being mechanical. Civil engineers deal with urban planning, pipe networks, water treatment, structural design, and any combination therein. Civil engineering has a close relation with the construction industry and often will involve a lot of hands-on work in the civil engineering career you choose. As a civil engineer, you have the option of working with chemicals in water treatment or designing the next world famous bridge. If civil engineering is too broad for you, you can specialize in geotechnical, petroleum, and environmental engineering.
Key components: mechanics of materials, statics, hydraulics and geotechnics
Median income: $82,050
Commonly referred to as double E’s, electrical engineers work with electronics, circuits, and computers. If you decide to choose electrical engineering as a degree path, you need to be prepared for working primarily with electronics and the technology within that industry. Given current advances in technology, electrical engineering is fast paced and is constantly innovating. If you want to lean further from electrical and more into computers, you can always choose a more specialized degree in computer science or computer engineering. The main difference here is that computer science focuses more on programming and computer engineering focuses on computer design.
Key components: circuits, electronics and computers
Median income: $71,101
Biomedical engineering is perhaps the most specialized discipline on this list, but it doesn’t quite fit in any other category. To work in the biomedical field, a strong interest in anatomy and physiology, as well as various forms of engineering, are needed. You will be working closely with mechanical and electrical concepts within your degree path of biomedical engineering. Doctors and surgeons help heal patients using devices designed by biomedical engineers, like hip replacements and prosthetic limbs.
Key components: biological devices, electronics, and mechanical connections
Median income: $86,950
Chemical engineering has seen significant growth in recent years due to the increase in chemically engineered products implemented in daily life. Chemical engineering doesn’t require that much explanation, but you will likely be working inside of a lab designing new chemicals or synthesizing compounds. You have the opportunity to develop new life-saving drugs or re-engineer common foods. Everything in the world is made up of some form of chemical, compound, or element, and chemical engineers can work with any of it.
Key components: chemistry, lab work, mathematics, life sciences
Median income: $97,360
Manufacturing is one of the most important tasks in the growing consumer world. Practically everything around us is manufactured in some form or fashion, and a manufacturing engineer likely had something to do with it. To state it simply, the job of a manufacturing engineer is to take raw materials and turn them into a product in the most economical and efficient ways possible. Choosing this degree path will inevitably land you in the manufacturing field, but you could work with 3D printers or coordinate assembly robots. The job is all about optimization and efficiency, and if that is what you can do best, manufacturing engineering is for you.
Key components: manufacturing, production, equipment, processes
Median income: $61,998
When making your final decision on what degree to choose, consider what your interests are and where you can see yourself working for the rest of your life. With any degree in engineering, you have options to work in virtually any industry, so you won’t be held back.