Engineering careers can take you to all corners of the world, from high in the sky to deep in the earth.
This definitive guide to Engineering careers will show you the skills you need to excel, and the sweet cash you’ll be making in return. These 7 amazing Engineering careers show us that there’s so much more to Engineering that just welding – so, which career will you choose?
#1 Stay Grounded
Geotechnical engineering careers
Median salary: $77,209
Earthquake-proof buildings and safe roads require geotechnical engineers to study soil types and rock structures to design the best solution. They can be found building wharves on coastlines or urban high-rises. “I have never had any two projects that are the same,” says David Lacey (above), senior geotechnical engineer at Foundation Specialists Group.
– Problem solving: This is a great option for people that like a challenge. You’ll be working with unpredictable earthen materials that dictate how structures can be built. No two problems are ever the same – results may vary!
– Interests in biology or geology: Duh, this one is obvious. You’re working with earth, dirt, mud, and rocks on a daily basis. While it’s not the main part of the job, you might benefit from an interest in biology or geology.
#2 Design Infastructure
Civil engineering careers
Median salary: $72,097
Civil engineers collaborate with a range of people to plan and build the world we live in. “I work with clients from the Dubbo Regional Council to California’s High-Speed Rail Authority,” says Jillian Kilby of JL Kilby Engineering and Management. “A grounding in civil engineering can be combined with several other areas, including being a business owner.”
– Architecture: Civil engineering is like the tough cousin of architecture. You could be involved with the practical design or construction of anything from bridges and roads to airports. It might be worthwhile to become a little familiar with blueprints before you become a civil engineer.
– Maths: One teeny miscalculation could bring a bridge tumbling down. Even if you’re not the one in charge of designing and structure, it pays to know your way around a calculator.
#3 Dig Deep
Petroleum engineering careers
Median salary: $87,840
The world’s energy needs still rely heavily on extracting fossil fuels from deep within the Earth. Petroleum engineers work closely with geologists to find oil and gas and design machinery to extract and process them. “The best part of being an engineer is playing the problem-solving game,” says Bich Thuy Ngo-Hoang, an engineer at Santos.
– Maths: Petroleum engineers have their work cut out for them… or, uh, they cut their work out of the ground. That’s why maths comes in so handy. When you’re working to extract oil and gases that are buried under layers of rock, or even sea water, maths can be your best tool in predicting and actioning positive outcomes.
– Sailing: This one’s not a requirement of the job. Only certain petroleum engineers will have to spend hours or days or weeks on ships, extracting fuels from the sea. If this is going to be you, you might want to make sure you’re not the seasick type.
#4 Fly High
Aerospace engineering careers
Median salary: $74,842
These engineers make flying possible by designing and building everything from helicopters to spacecraft. Philip Brown (above) turned a passion for flying into an in aviation career at Padstow TAFE and is now a field service technician at Bankstown Airport, Sydney.
– Attention to detail: It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of aerospace engineering; working with planes, rocket ships and intergalactic travel. While aerospace engineers have a hand in some pretty cool projects, they’re behind the scenes. Designing high powered engines or building the machines that manufacture aircrafts takes a lot of attention to detail, so make sure you’ve got it in spades.
#5 Get Techie
Computer systems engineering careers
Median salary: $67,759
They don’t just design and build laptops and desktops. These engineers can also be found developing the latest supercomputers, navigation devices for cars, and gaming systems. Elena Wei Shao works at Nvidia in Silicon Valley. “We make graphics chips for PC gaming and high-performance computing,” she says. “Every day, I look forward to solving challenging problems.”
– Coding: Don’t be fooled by the word “engineer”. Computer systems engineers not only have a hand in the back-end bolts-and-wiring side of computers, they play a part in developing environments for usable software. Programming is an excellent skill to have to be a well-rounded computer systems engineer.
– Communication skills: Computer systems engineers need to be highly skilled communicators. Why? You’ll often be dealing with computer noobs or clients that need to understand the service you’re providing, translated into easy-to-understand language. You might also need to translate noob-speak for “Please help, my computer is broken!”
#6 Clean It Up
Environmental engineering careers
Median salary: $70,384
When it comes to a cleaner world, these engineers make it happen by focusing on the impact engineering activities have on the natural world. Kathy Thomas, Civil Project Engineer at UGL, has a passion for sustainable wastewater treatment. “I’ve had the chance to be involved in the construction of wastewater treatment plants, dams, fish ladders and ventilation shafts.”
– Team work: Odds are, if you’re in environmental engineering, you’ll be working in a team. You could be working for the Government, a billion-dollar energy provider, or even organisations like the United Nations! You’ll need to be well-equipped with communication skills, delegating and team work to get your job done.
– A social conscience: It takes a special kind of person to be passionate about waste water treatment. If environmentalism and having a strong social conscience is on your radar, it’ll make your job easier and much more rewarding.
#7 Build Healthy Lives
Biomedical engineering careers
Median salary: $62,335
Whether it’s designing wheelchairs or artificial hearts, biomedical engineers combine medicine with engineering to help people lead healthier lives. “The spinal cord stimulator I’m working on is probably my most satisfying project,” says Matt Williams, research engineer at Saluda Medical. “Just seeing how much the technology has helped patients is really heartening.”
– Empathy and social skills: This kind of engineering work doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and you won’t be dealing with rocks or bridges either. You’re constructing medical equipment that enriches the lives of real-life people. While you won’t be dealing with patients like a doctor, your job might require an understanding of what needs to be improved and why, on a person-to-person level.
Interested in learning more about Engineering careers?
Interested in learning more about Engineering careers?
Author: Heather Catchpole
Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs