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Most lucrative engineering field?

HyperionOmegaHyperionOmega Registered User Posts: 143 Junior Member
edited March 2013 in Engineering Majors
Ok, I want to start off this thread by saying that I am NOT using the responses in this thread to pick the engineering major with the highest earning potential. I have already decided on CS, and I am 99% sure that is what I want to do. I am just curious which engineering field / subfield is considered to be the must lucrative. I've heard aerospace is pretty lucrative; my friend has an uncle who is an aero engineer and makes 200k a year. So, what do you think is the most lucrative engineering field.
Post edited by HyperionOmega on

Replies to: Most lucrative engineering field?

  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Registered User Posts: 4,269 Senior Member
    I think it depends on how you define lucrative:

    If you mean highest starting salary, Forbes had an article in January saying that Computer Engineering had the highest starting salary of ANY field at $70.4k, followed by Chemical at $66.4k, CS at $64.4k, and Aero at $64k.

    If you mean highest "peak" salary, I think that probably changes pretty regularly and is not going to be publiic knowledge. I certainly know some EE's making $250k+, but I cannot say how common that is or even if that IS the peak! I knew a materials engineering professor who was making $350k+ between his univerity salary and consulting income.

    If you mean over a career, that is exceptionally hard to say. Industries wax and wane, get flooded or starved of applicants, and may be prone (or resistant) to lay-offs. The hot field of this decade may get outpaced by other fields over the long haul.

    Another issue is whether you specifically mean "engineering" or "jobs for engineers", because the latter includes management and other roles that require little or no engineering work, just an engineering background. In which case it is hard to argue against CS!

    I hope I have sufficiently not answered your question.
  • BSEngieBSEngie Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    I would say, from personal experience, that working in the oil industry is the most lucrative way to go. I've got a degree in ME w/ minor in Aero (I wanted to work in Aerospace). I got a job with the company I had wanted work for all through university, Boeing. Their offer was 68,000 starting. Then... I got the offer from Chevron, 149,000 starting. I chose Chevron. I've been here a little over a year and my first year, standard for all employees, I got a 15% cash bonus. Plus I had a sign on bonus of 10,000. So my first year with base and bonuses I made 181,000. Top that all off with a year end raise of 9%. So this year I should expect to make right around 190,000... Not too bad for someone not even 2 years out of school. All the guys I work with live fairly lavish lifestyles. They all seem to have multiple homes, cars, boats, wives/girlfriends etc. I am field based however.. this is not a typical salary for someone working in the office. I work offshore 21 days on 21 days off. In the office the engineers make starting around 80k base, plus their 15% bonus.. so they still make almost 100k.
  • YYaaSSeeRRYYaaSSeeRR Registered User Posts: 287 Junior Member
    @lavish :
    what college you have graduated from??
    what was your GPA??
    and where did you get your MS??


    @cosmicfish:
    I certainly know some EE's making $250k+ .

    where did these engineers graduated from??
    and how many years of experience do they have??
    do they have MS or Phd ??
  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Registered User Posts: 4,269 Senior Member
    where did these engineers graduated from??
    A variety of good schools but nowhere that makes you stop and say "Wow, you went there??"
    and how many years of experience do they have??
    20+. Not saying it cannot happen faster, but the engineers I know in that range have some serious experience.
    do they have MS or Phd ??
    Yes. That is, all of them have at least an MS, although some got it while working. Some of them have PhD's.
  • fractalmstrfractalmstr Registered User Posts: 2,283 Senior Member
    They all seem to have multiple homes, cars, boats, wives/girlfriends etc

    Lol
    I've heard aerospace is pretty lucrative; my friend has an uncle who is an aero engineer and makes 200k a year

    $250k for a EE? I call BS. There is no way that's real, unless we're talking about household incomes, or if this guy has an extremely rare talent.

    Even $200k for an actual working Aero is pretty hard to believe. I don't know any aero engineers making anything close to that number, and I work with a lot of aero's on a daily basis with various backgrounds and years of experience (some with PhD's). The most experienced and successful aero I know makes around $150k as a consultant.

    Now if these people are business owners, co-owners, or even CEO's with Aero degrees, that's a different story. I could easily believe those numbers if that were the case. But working engineers? I'm not so sure.
  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Registered User Posts: 4,269 Senior Member
    $250k for a EE? I call BS. There is no way that's real, unless we're talking about household incomes, or if this guy has an extremely rare talent.
    Not household, I am talking about top guys at a huge company, guys who are in charge of the technical aspects of $50+million programs. Some of them are effectively world-class experts in very unusual areas. But I am not talking about one or two guys, either, I am talking about a couple of dozen.
  • Jan2013Jan2013 - Posts: 277 Junior Member
    Statement that I like: "I certainly know some EE's making $250k+, but I cannot say how common that is or even if that IS the peak! I knew a materials engineering professor who was making $350k+ between his univerity salary and consulting income."

    I just want to add: wow there is nothing wrong with big dream and finally is able to achieve it. After all, Engineering Major is hard and after working/studying your ass off, you certainly need to be rewarded. Hats off to y'all that have made it.
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Registered User Posts: 2,892 Senior Member
    Some of us 1099/S-Corp/LLC independent I.T. consultants charge $100-$130/hour to the NSA's, CIA's and FBI's of the world.

    The normal hours (doing 40 hours/week) for a year is 2080 hours.

    You all can do the math on that.
  • Jan2013Jan2013 - Posts: 277 Junior Member
    Simple math: $100 x 2,080 = $208,000 a year....wow, I like that. Thanks for the info, GLOBALTRAVELER.
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Registered User Posts: 2,892 Senior Member
    Jan2013,

    If I was allowed to bring a camera to one of the NSA parking lots, I would snap a pic of all the license plate covers with folks' alma-maters. Just about every school is represented.

    ...just passed someone's office yesterday that looked like the University of Maine's spirit shop.
  • YYaaSSeeRRYYaaSSeeRR Registered User Posts: 287 Junior Member
    @GLOBALTRAVELER:
    $130/hour , NSA's, CIA's and FBI's .


    so working for CIA,FBI or NSA will pay that much??
  • Jan2013Jan2013 - Posts: 277 Junior Member
    Yasser: I thought you dont like Big Money as you said:

    "I want to enjoy my job day after day ,if I am gonna have big salary and not enjoying my job then I will drop."

    and now you wanna work for these guys: so working for CIA,FBI or NSA will pay that much??

    you know working for those guys are 24/7 and always on call and perhaps travel a lot too?...

    I dont like jobs that have traveling a lot as it is like salesman always carrying cell-phone, computer then uploading sales figures or sales quotes from clients and having dinner alone in an unknown city/small town, giving out lots of business cards, sleeping in different hotels, renting cars, and dragging your suitcase in airport, hotel, etc....And keeping/gathering all restaurant receipts, car rental bills, hotel bills, etc to be given into accounting clerk when you are back into office.....

    Similarly, those guys are doing same thing like the salesmen....do you like that kind of job or you wanna drop it?
  • YYaaSSeeRRYYaaSSeeRR Registered User Posts: 287 Junior Member
    Yasser: I thought you dont like Big Money as you said:

    "I want to enjoy my job day after day ,if I am gonna have big salary and not enjoying my job then I will drop."

    and now you wanna work for these guys: so working for CIA,FBI or NSA will pay that much??

    you know working for those guys are 24/7 and always on call and perhaps travel a lot too?...

    I dont like jobs that have traveling a lot as it is like salesman always carrying cell-phone, computer then uploading sales figures or sales quotes from clients and having dinner alone in an unknown city/small town, giving out lots of business cards, sleeping in different hotels, renting cars, and dragging your suitcase in airport, hotel, etc....And keeping/gathering all restaurant receipts, car rental bills, hotel bills, etc to be given into accounting clerk when you are back into office.....

    Similarly, those guys are doing same thing like the salesmen....do you like that kind of job or you wanna drop it?

    Lol,you misunderstood me dude :)
    can't the engineer enjoy his Job and get paid well??
    I don't want the big money like 1 million $ a year, why would I need that money unless I have a family ?? I may seem crazy for some people here for not wanting a million dollar but I see that 5 k a month is really good/enough.
    yes ,if I don't like the job I will drop immediately.

    but,is working for CIA is that kind of work?? I am talking about software engineering,Electrical ... like Stuxnet :D >>> I hope some day I would be able to work on projects like that.
  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Registered User Posts: 4,269 Senior Member
    The kind of work Global is talking about is not 24/7, and it takes a while to command the rates he is talking about. I would not make too many assumptions about that kind of work - I know guys who are always on call, always travelling, but I also know guys who have no BlackBerry and rarely work outside regular hours and their regular office.
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Registered User Posts: 2,892 Senior Member
    You will need some years of proven experience and also some years doing contract work for that specific agency ALONG with a clearance to command those rates. Still, it's possible.

    Of course, there IS RISK. The first folks who can get cut if there is some federal funding issues will be.....you guessed it, independent contractors.

    Bigger reward...bigger risk.
This discussion has been closed.