Engineers apply scientific and mathematical principals to solve practical problems. They link scientific research and consumer needs. Though employees can enter the profession with a bachelor’s degree, many employers prefer a graduate degree, especially for basic research. Those who offer services to the public must be licensed by attending an accredited engineering program working for four years in their relevant specialty and passing a licensing exam.
Mechanical engineers design engines, machines, tools and other mechanical equipment. The PayScale Report states that as of May 2010, mechanical engineers begin with a yearly salary of $48,090 to $59,927. At one to four years of experience, they get $50,932 to $64,507 and at five to nine years, they receive $59,318 to $77,740. At 10 to 19 years, they earn $63,634 to $89,671 and at 20 years or more, they make $71,737 to $105,232.
Civil engineers design and oversee construction and maintenance of civil projects like roads, railroads, harbors, pipelines and irrigation projects. They average a beginning annual salary of $42,880 to $54,387. They make $47,894 to $60,825 at one to four years of experience and $56,907 to $72,944 at five to nine years. At 10 to 19 years, they receive $65,211 to $90,225 at 10 to 19 years and $74,253 to $106,802 at 20 or more years.
Structural engineers plan, design and manage construction on facilities like bridges, roads, airports, dams, power plants and sewage systems. They earn an annual salary of $47,629 to $59,027 to start. With one to four years of experience, they get $49,567 to $61,313 and with five to nine years, they receive $58,385 to $74,956. At 10 to 19 years, they earn $68,231 to $88,727 and at 20 or more years, they make $77,789 to $110,761.
Nuclear engineers study and apply principles of nuclear science to the use of nuclear energy and waste disposal. They begin with a yearly salary of $57,680 to $65,243. At one to four years of experience, they receive $57,562 to $71,437 and at five to nine years, they get $61,007 to $86,054. At 10 to 19 years, they make $80,147 to $102,921 and at 20 years or more, they earn $96,912 to $128,080.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, engineering jobs are expected to grow by 11 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is about average for all jobs. Specific percentages vary by specialty. For example, civil engineering will grow by 24 percent, mechanical engineering will average 6 percent and nuclear engineering will increase by 11 percent. Some of this opportunity can be limited by the increasing use of English-speaking engineers from around the world who will work for lower salaries than their U.S. counterparts. Engineers must keep current in their technological fields or their knowledge may become quickly outdated.