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Different types of engineering

Are you wondering, should I major in engineering? It's the ultimate playground for creative problem solvers, tinkerers, and innovators. It's where you can turn your wildest dreams into reality, all while making a tangible impact on the world around you. What's even more exciting is that engineering isn't just one job; it's a multifaceted domain that branches into various specialties, each with its own unique challenges and rewards.

From protecting the environment to designing and building a Baja car, discover what engineering looks like at Central Michigan University. 


Why should I major in engineering?

The short answer is: yes!

If you love math or science, figuring out how things work or creating new ways to complete tasks, majoring in engineering is a good fit for you. The field is challenging but just as rewarding and all types of engineering have a projected growth rate between 5 and 12% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here are five more reasons to major in engineering.

1. Low unemployment rates

Engineers have one of the lowest unemployment rates. Engineers are employable with only a bachelor's degree, but can also pursue higher education to advance their careers. 

2. Advancements in technology

As technological breakthroughs happen daily, engineers are on the front lines of these developments making using their skills and talents to help. According the automationtechies, "Engineers can be confident their basic skills will not be superseded as technology grows; math and research will always be in demand, and basic knowledge of the scientific method and computing systems will never die out."

3. Creativity is a plus

Creativity gives birth to innovation and innovation is an engineer's business. You'll be able to harness your creativity and use it confidently to analyze and solve problems in new, original ways.

4. Work anywhere

Engineers solve problems around the world, which means you're not limited to work in one city, state or country. Your impact can be global and so can your residence. You can create clean water solutions, build bridges between areas that share the same ecological needs, design new travel methods and help prevent diseases.

5. Financial security

Engineering is consistently ranked among the highest-paying professions. With an engineering degree, you can enjoy excellent job security, competitive salaries, and opportunities for advancement.

Types of engineering

Let’s look at the main types of engineering.

Civil engineering

Civil engineers design and construct the infrastructure that we rely on every day, such as roads, bridges, dams, and water treatment systems. Civil engineering projects have a major impact on our quality of life and economic prosperity.

Civil engineers work in different environments; some work in an office while some work on construction sites. They work for government agencies, or consulting and construction firms.

  • 2022 median salary from BLS: $89,940
  • Companies with civil engineering jobs: US Army Corps of Engineers, Stantec, Arcadis, CH2M Hill

Mechanical engineering

Mechanical engineers design and build machines and devices that we use in all aspects of our lives, from cars and airplanes to medical equipment and household appliances. Mechanical engineering innovations have helped to improve our health, safety, and productivity.

Mechanical engineers tend to work in offices unless they need to service a piece of equipment. They work in engineering services, research and development, and manufacturing. You can also find mechanical engineers in automotive and aerospace industries.

  • 2022 median salary from BLS: $96,310
  • Companies with mechanical engineering jobs: Ford, Boeing, John Deere, Caterpillar

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Electrical engineering

Electrical engineers design, develop, and test electrical systems and devices, such as computers, power grids, and communication systems. Electrical engineering has revolutionized the way we live and work.

Electrical engineers work in research and development, telecommunications, and manufacturing.

  • 2022 median salary from BLS: $104,610
  • Companies with electrical engineering jobs: General Electric, Consumers Energy, Apple, Honeywell

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Chemical engineering

Chemical engineers design and operate chemical plants and processes to produce products such as fuels, plastics, and pharmaceuticals. Chemical engineering has helped to improve our standard of living and create new and innovative products.

Chemical engineers often work in laboratory settings, but you can also find them visiting industrial plants, refineries, and on work sites to monitor locations. 

  • 2022 median salary from BLS: $106,260
  • Companies with chemical engineering jobs: Shell, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Jacobs

Industrial engineering

Industrial engineers design and implement systems and processes to improve the efficiency and productivity of businesses and organizations. Industrial engineering has helped to reduce costs and improve customer satisfaction.

Industrial engineers work in a wide range of industries including manufacturing, health care, consulting and research and development.

  • 2022 median salary from BLS: $96,350
  • Companies with industrial engineering jobs: UPS, General Motors, Tesla, Siemens

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In addition to these five main branches of engineering, there are many other subfields and specialties you may want to consider.

Type of engineering2022 median salary from BLS
Computer hardware$132,360
Construction managers$101,480

Types of engineering degrees

Most engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree. Your degree will reflect the type of engineering you decided to major in. For example, if you choose electrical engineering, your degree will be a bachelor of science in electrical engineering or B.S.E.E. for short. 

A bachelor's degree will open the door to engineering for you while a master's degree will open up your possibilities for career advancement. Master's degrees emphasize advanced technical training in the field. If you're interested in a career in engineering research, a Master of Science in Engineering is the master's for you. If you want develop leadership and project management skills, a Master of Engineering is for you.

Picking the right type of engineering for you

When choosing a type of engineering to study, it's important to consider your interests and skills. What are you passionate about? What are you good at? What kind of work environment do you prefer? Once you have a good understanding of yourself, you can start to narrow down your choices.

Here are some tips for choosing the right type of engineering for you:

  • Talk to engineers. One of the best ways to learn about different types of engineering is to talk to people who work in the field. Ask them about their jobs, what they like and dislike about them, and what skills and knowledge are needed.
  • Research different engineering programs. Once you've narrowed down your choices, research different engineering programs at different colleges and universities. Consider the program's curriculum, faculty, and facilities. Talk with advisors and current students.
  • Take engineering courses in high school. If your high school offers engineering courses, take them! Courses in Computer Aided Design, chemistry and math will give you a taste of what engineering is like and help you decide if it's the right field for you.

Choosing a type of engineering to study is a big decision, but it's one that can lead to a rewarding and fulfilling career. By taking the time to understand the different types of engineering available and choosing one that's a good fit for you, you can set yourself up for success.


Engineering is a diverse and exciting field with many different opportunities to make a difference in the world. If you're a prospective college student considering a career in engineering, take some time to explore the different types of engineering available and find one that's a good fit for you. With the right education and training, you can become a successful engineer and make a real impact on the world.

Curious what engineering looks like at CMU? Explore the School of Engineering and Technology to find out about all the unique opportunities our students have like designing and racing Baja cars and building robots right on campus. 

Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Categories: University Communications
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