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    What Are the Four Main Types of Engineering?

    By Varonika Ware

    Varonika Ware is a content writer at Scholarships360. Varonika earned her undergraduate degree in Mass Communications at Louisiana State University. During her time at LSU, she worked with the Center of Academic Success to create the weekly Success Sunday newsletter. Varonika also interned at the Louisiana Department of Insurance in the Public Affairs office with some of her graphics appearing in local news articles.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: February 21st, 2024
    What Are the Four Main Types of Engineering?

    Careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have become increasingly popular over the years across all demographics. Engineering is a combination of science and technology and focuses on designing and building machines and structures. 

    Keep reading below to learn more about each type of engineering to see what’s the best choice for you!

    Main types of engineering

    Engineering is divided into four major branches, including civil, electrical, mechanical, and industrial. However, there are multiple subcategories that fit under each of these types. 

    We included the most popular subcategories for each of the major engineering branches, but there are many more. Be sure to do your research to find the type of engineering that might best suit you.

    Chemical engineering

    Chemical engineers put their STEM skills to the test by applying scientific principles and math to their everyday work. They test a variety of products such as food, drugs, fuel, and of course, chemicals. The job growth rate for chemical engineering shows that this is an excellent field for the future.  

    • Average annual salary: $106,260
    • Job growth rate: 8%
    • Similar fields: agricultural engineering, biomedical engineering, nuclear engineering 

    Related: Top chemical engineering scholarships

    Civil engineering 

    Civil engineers spend their time between the office and the field at construction sites since they supervise and design infrastructure like roads, bridges, and buildings. This profession does require a bachelor’s degree, but there will always be a need for a civil engineer in our society. 

    • Average annual salary: $89,940
    • Job growth rate: 5%
    • Similar fields: Environmental engineering and mechanical engineering

    See also: Top civil engineering scholarships

    Electrical engineering

    Like its namesake, electrical engineering pertains to the development and testing of electrical equipment such as GPS, phones, and music devices. This form of engineering also involves the electrical components of automobiles and aircrafts. 

    • Average annual salary: $104,610
    • Job growth rate: 5%
    • Similar fields: Aerospace engineering, computer hardware engineering, sales engineering

    See also: Top electrical engineering scholarships

    Industrial engineering

    This type of engineering focuses on evaluating the efficiency of production processes, which can include worker conditions, delivery services, and production management. The largest portion of industrial engineers usually work in the transportation equipment manufacturing industry. 

    • Average annual salary: $96,350
    • Job growth rate: 12%
    • Similar fields: Health and safety engineering

    Further reading: Engineering major overview

    Which of the four types of engineering should you choose?

    There are several factors that can contribute to deciding what type of engineer you’d like to be such as money, job security, and more. However, a career should be chosen based on the passion you have for it, and if you’d be happy going into work every day. 

    Earning any degree can be challenging, but engineering is known to be especially rigorous because of the focus on STEM classes. It’s important to consider the amount of work you’ll be required to complete to graduate, so stay committed to your goals. 

    Also see: How to choose a major

    Additional resources for STEM majors

    Pursuing a degree can be an expensive endeavor, so check out these Scholarships360 resources to learn more about STEM and ways to make it affordable.

    Related: Top engineering summer programs for high school students

    Frequently asked questions about different types of engineering

    What is the most popular engineering major?

    At present, the most popular type of engineering is industrial engineering with a growth rate of 12%. In order to get a job in this profession, you’ll have to complete a bachelor’s degree in industrial, mechanical, or electrical engineering.

    Which engineering field is best for the future?

    Of course it is the field you enjoy working in! Aside from that, chemical engineering continues to grow, and it has the highest median salary. However, there’s a lot of growth in job options for industrial engineering.

    Do you have to be good in math and science to major in engineering?

    Math and science classes are an important part of undergraduate engineering majors. Students are required to take classes (sometimes multiple levels of) in biology, calculus, chemistry, linear algebra, physics, and statistics. Therefore, having strong math and science skills to build upon is a definite plus when majoring in engineering.

    Which type of engineering major pays the most?

    According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, petroleum engineers with an undergraduate degree earn a median salary of $131,800 per year. Petroleum engineers primarily work on designing plans or overseeing the actual process of extracting oil and gas from below the Earth’s surface.

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