Picking the engineering career that suits your skills, interests and education is key to your success.

woman engineer in hardhat and goggles

The field of engineering is a vast web of disciplines that branches off into more and more subspecialties, all of which share the common thread of designing and building something new. The number of engineering degrees out there practically matches the breadth of the profession, and anyone that wishes to be an engineer should narrow in on what branch of engineering interests them so that they can receive the appropriate education.

With the number of awarded science and technology degrees steadily increasing, there's seldom been a better time to invest in an engineering education.

Whether you're already an engineer, an international student or just beginning your education, start by doing your research to learn about some of the many engineering careers you could have.

Aerospace engineering

Aerospace engineers build aircraft and spacecraft such as airplanes, rockets and missiles. They may work for companies such as Boeing or government agencies like NASA. Aerospace engineers may choose to specialize even further in aeronautical engineering (aircraft within Earth's atmosphere only) or astronautical engineering (spacecraft only).

Agricultural engineering

Agricultural engineers design and build equipment and machinery at every step of the agricultural process. They utilize their understanding of how engineered structures and biological processes interact to solve agricultural problems, such as developing climate control systems or waste disposal solutions for livestock.

Biomedical engineering

Biomedical engineers apply engineering principles to biology and medicine to improve health outcomes. This can take many forms such as developing artificial body parts, rehabilitative equipment or software that operates medical equipment. Biomedical engineers have been involved in many of the exciting medical advances of the last few years, including growing live tissue and developing robotic surgery.

Chemical engineering

By applying their knowledge of chemistry, physics, math and more, chemical engineers solve problems related to the manufacturing and/or use of chemicals as well as their byproducts. This kind of engineering is necessary for the production of certain drugs, foods, fuel, clothing, cosmetics and many other chemical products which we use on a daily basis.

Civil engineering

Civil engineers are responsible for designing, building and maintaining society's infrastructure. Although they may be most recognized for their contributions to our roads, bridges, airports, environmental systems and more, civil engineers are utilized within numerous other engineering specialties. As the effects of climate change are recognized more by governments around the world, there may be more opportunities for civil engineers now and in the future to address pressing environmental challenges.

Computer engineering

Specializing in computer engineering can take many forms, from computer software to hardware and anything in between. Computer software engineers may develop back-end operating systems or user-facing applications—even video games. These engineers are versed in coding languages and can find jobs in just about every industry imaginable.

Construction management engineering

They're not usually doing the actual construction, but construction management engineers oversee construction projects from inception to the final built product. They use their excellent project managerial skills and engineering knowledge to make sure that construction projects are done right, as well as completed on time and within budget.

Electrical engineering

Not to be confused with electricians, electrical engineers design and build electrical equipment and systems. This can range from navigation and communication systems to computer chips or eco-friendly power generation systems.

Engineering management

Engineering managers can work in any field of engineering. They have both the practical knowledge of an engineer and the administrative, organizational and communication skills of successful managers. They oversee engineering projects and coordinate the efforts of the many teams involved.

Engineering technology

The scope of the jobs done by engineering technologists has as much variety as the field of engineering itself. Engineering technologists or technicians assist and are typically supervised by more experienced engineers. They execute an engineer's plan by completing tasks such as setting up equipment, data collection, running experiments and more.

Environmental engineering

As their name suggests, environmental engineers solve environmental problems with engineering. Using their knowledge of environmental science and biology, they design and build a wide range of equipment and systems related to recycling and waste disposal, sustainable energy sources, pollution control and much more.

Fire protection engineering

Fire protection engineers utilize engineering technology to prevent, mitigate and extinguish fires and other related hazards. This involves designing, checking and maintaining fire protection systems for buildings and forests. With the number and intensity of annual wildfires trending at an all-time high recently, demand for fire protection engineers may grow in the years to come.

Industrial engineering

Industrial engineers solve problems related to production and manufacturing processes. Since this can be utilized within other engineering fields depending on the products that are being made, industrial engineering walks hand in hand with many other engineering disciplines.

Materials engineering

Materials engineers develop materials that can be used in an endless range of other equipment, systems and products. With their educational background in materials science, they may choose to specialize in certain materials—metals or plastics, for example—or in materials for certain industries such as computer or airplane parts. Materials engineering can be applied to numerous other fields.

Mechanical engineering

Mechanical engineering is another engineering specialty that overlaps with other specialties. As experts in designing and building mechanical devices, tools, engines and other equipment, mechanical engineers can put their skills to use in everything from aerospace to environmental to civil engineering.

Molecular engineering

They think big and build small—molecular engineers create tools and systems at the molecular level. For this reason, molecular engineering may also be called nanotechnology or molecular manufacturing. Although this can be applied to many industries, molecular engineering is particularly useful in biomedical and chemical engineering.

Nuclear engineering

As one of the most lucrative fields of engineering, nuclear engineering deals with the use and disposal of nuclear energy. If nuclear energy continues to be recognized as a viable, sustainable energy source, the field of nuclear engineering could grow substantially.

Petroleum engineering

Without petroleum engineering, we'd lack many of the luxuries contemporary society enjoys today, including plastic, cosmetics, transportation fuel and energy sources for light and heat. Petroleum engineers extract and refine oil and gas resources, and enjoy one of the highest median annual wages among all engineering disciplines.

Technology management

People with technology management degrees oversee technological systems and operations. Like construction management engineers, they have excellent project management skills and can be utilized in many other engineering disciplines.

Telecommunications engineering

This subspecialty of electrical engineering is concerned with the design, construction and maintenance of communications systems such as cell phone networks, broadcasting systems and more. Telecommunications engineers are vital in an ever-growing global economy as they are essential to keep communications systems running and keep our global society connected.