Whether you have your electrical engineering degree in hand or you’re on the homestretch heading towards final exam week, browsing through potential career prospects can feel overwhelming. To ensure that you don’t leave anything on the table in terms of earning potential, here’s a complete breakdown of the five highest paying careers in this field, as well as how industry and location choices can boost your annual income.
Before we jump into the top five highest paying careers, it’s only fair to shine a little spotlight on the jobs that just barely missed the cut. Specifically, these three careers paths might not offer the largest annual salaries according to research conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but they still provide graduates with more than ample income.
- Firmware Engineer – Earning approximately $86,000 a year, firmware engineers support a brand’s technical infrastructure via bug and glitch management or eradication.
- Controls Engineer –With responsibilities that include handling space flight control systems and the upkeep of civic power grids, this type of engineer can earn up to $93,883 in annual compensation.
- Applications Engineer – In return for a yearly salary that sits at $99,750, applications engineers provide expert-level support for machine functions and other automated system processes.
While these honorable mentions didn’t quite make the final list, they can still serve as the foundation for a healthy and prosperous career should you find yourself interested in one of these fields.
The first career on our list – the project engineer – serves as a leader for specific engineering projects within a corporation or municipal agency. Keeping these projects on budget, on time for completion, and fostering communication between the varying individuals and outside influences that go into this process all serve as job responsibilities for this positon. Should you find yourself working as a project engineer, the BLS notes that you can expect to earn up to $103,486 on a yearly basis.
With a top end salary that sits at the $106,670 mark, the software engineer career path barely sneaks by the previous entry on this list. As part of this digitally-oriented job opportunity, you’ll have to develop and design computer programs that not only power larger in-house systems and services, but also help unify and consolidate disparate program functions.
As the “bread and butter” member of the list, it only makes sense for the electrical engineer position to land right in the middle of the pack. This career gives recent electrical engineering graduates the ability to implement and design components that channel electricity, as well as test the functionality of prototype products and devices. In return for this hands-on work, you’ll have the potential to earn up to $124,138 per year.
Electrical Design Engineer
Taking the design aspect of electrical engineering to the next level, electrical design engineers seek to push the cutting edge of component and device development, all while improving upon current industry benchmarks and leading products. The BLS reports that graduates who gravitate toward this field end up laying claim to annual earnings that top out at $128,222.
At the top of the list of highest paying electrical engineering jobs is the systems engineer career path. This specialist serves as an administrator of computer systems, servers, and other electrical hardware that functions as the backbone of major public and corporate networks. Should you find yourself working as a systems engineer, you can expect to receive $141,894 in yearly compensation.
Picking the Right Industry for Your Career Path
Of course, not every industry values these unique positions in the same manner, so it’s important that you also pair up your career choice with the right market sector to maximize your earnings potential. Leaning once again on the BLS’ research shows that the oil and gas extraction industry currently pays the highest average salaries to electrical engineering graduates, primarily based on a decided lack of professionals entering this marketplace.
The computer systems design field has less of a gap between open positions and leading salaries, but still stands as the second hottest industry for recent graduates. If neither of these top tier industries pique your interest, then working in the aerospace, manufacturing, and navigational sector can provide you with access to the third most active industry on the BLS’ list.
The Regional Effect on Salaries
Finally, it’s also worth noting that the region in which you choose to live can also have an impact on your salary. Landing on the West Coast gives you access to the highest average salaries across all fields with a median yearly compensation figure of $98,642, while New York and the rest of the northeastern portion of the country comes in at second on the list with an average salary of $88,118. The Southeast and Midwest sit at a distant third and fourth, offering median earning opportunities of $82,814 and $79,429, respectively.
These factors can make or break your ability to earn as much as possible as you step out of the college world and into a professional setting. However, with this information leading the way, there’s no reason why you can’t maximize your wages and find an electrical engineering career that fits seamlessly into your life goals.
About the Author
As owner of the higher education site Prestige Tracker, Joy Miller reviews and researches universities offering online degree programs and courses.