Engineers design and create machines, structures, and devices. Using mathematics, science, and cutting-edge technology, engineers study how things work and develop new strategies for approaching and solving problems in a variety of settings. Engineering is a broad field that encompasses many different specializations and presents several lucrative career opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for aerospace engineers is $113,030, while mechanical engineers earn roughly $85,880 per year. The BLS also projects steady job growth for most engineering positions. If you are passionate about science and innovation and want a challenging career, earning an engineering master's degree can help fulfill your ambitions. A master's degree in engineering introduces the advanced concepts and professional skills you need to find high-level and specialized positions.
Should I Get a Master's in Engineering?
A master of science in engineering paves the way for career advancement and increased earnings. Building on foundational undergraduate-level concepts, an engineering master's degree curriculum offers challenging classes and the chance to acquire specialized knowledge. Depending on individual program goals, graduate-level courses take either a research-based or a practical approach to study. Many include hands-on projects and experiences that let students develop their professional abilities and implement strategic choices required in specific settings. Graduate programs often provide networking opportunities, help with job placement, access to internships, and the chance to build relationships with a cohort of like-minded students. An engineering master's also opens up many lucrative, high-level job opportunities unavailable to those with only a bachelor's degree.
Every program is different, and it is important to select a school that suits your personal interests and strengths. Traditional on-campus programs often appeal to recent graduates who already have a particular concentration or career path in mind. These learners typically continue their education on site, with the goal of pursuing licensure and entering the workforce immediately after graduation. Online programs, however, tend to attract adult students, working professionals in the process of changing careers or specializations, and those who require a flexible schedule due to other obligations. Distance education allows candidates to pursue a degree from the comfort of home, or anywhere an internet connection is available, without paying additional relocation or transportation costs. In addition, some web-based programs are presented in self-paced or accelerated formats, which lets students complete their education in less time.
What Can I Do With a Master's in Engineering?
Earning a master's in engineering opens up several specialized career opportunities. While civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering are among the most common specialities, graduates may also pursue more specific fields based on their passions and goals. Below, we've covered a few possible career paths for engineers.
- Marine Engineer and Naval Architect
These specialists build and maintain water vessels, from submarines to aircraft carriers. Marine engineers ensure the safety and function of ships by using a combination of computer modeling and on-site testing. They must hold a bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited program, and employers typically prefer candidates with some hands-on experience.
Median Annual Salary: $90,970
Projected Growth Rate: 12%
- Aerospace Engineer
Aerospace engineers design and build air travel machines and devices, including airplanes, spacecraft, and satellites. Some work for national defense agencies, building missiles and researching aircraft technology. Although a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering may lead to entry-level positions, a master's is required to take on advanced or managerial roles.
Median Annual Salary: $113,030
Projected Growth Rate: 6%
- Environmental Engineer
These engineers strive to develop solutions to environmental problems like pollution, waste, public health crises, and natural resource contamination. They must often combine their knowledge of chemistry and biology to develop action plans, and may work alongside other engineers and urban planners. While environmental engineers are expected to hold a bachelor's degree, many employers prefer to hire candidates with additional education.
Median Annual Salary: $86,800
Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Health and Safety Engineer
Health and safety engineers work in a variety of settings and with many types of products. They ensure that furniture, machines, structures, and other items do not cause users harm or damage property. Earning a master's degree with a health and safety emphasis may lead to higher salaries and greater job opportunities.
Median Annual Salary: $88,510
Projected Growth Rate: 9%
- Civil Engineer
Civil engineers design and maintain city infrastructure. Their duties may include designing roads, tunnels, and bridges, or developing and maintaining sewage and water systems. Civil engineers who wish to pursue senior or managerial roles must hold a master's degree obtain state licensure to work on public projects.
Median Annual Salary: $84,770
Projected Growth Rate: 11%
Best States for Engineers
Engineering encompasses an array of specialties. Computer engineering blends computer science with electronic design, while chemical engineering combines laboratory science with mathematics and economics to produce foods, chemicals, and other materials. Civil engineering emphasizes design; construction; and maintenance of roads, dams, and other infrastructure, while mechanical engineering uses physics, mathematics, and engineering principles to design and maintain mechanical systems. Other engineering areas include biomedical, industrial, and geotechnical fields, all of which offer employment opportunities for professionals around the country.
With so many engineering fields and levels of employment, many states offer exciting opportunities to all types of engineers. Engineers can participate in innovation while taking advantage of the changing economic landscape. Additionally, the U.S. needs to address its infrastructure issues, and many states continue to focus on fixing existing structures and building new roads, bridges, and transportation routes; these projects offer many engineering opportunities in areas of public service. States with high levels of mineral resources and extraction facilities also boast continued growth in the fields of material and mineral science, providing additional job openings for engineers.
States employing the most engineers offer numerous benefits to these professionals in a variety of fields. Proximity to natural resources and facilities also determines which states provide the best engineering opportunities. Additionally, innovation, tax revenue, and state-supported engineering initiatives increase the earning potential and career opportunities for engineers in several states. States with strong technology sectors and infrastructure funding, for example, offer computer and civil engineers continued opportunities for entry-level and advanced positions. Furthermore, states with educational programs that support research and continued study among engineering professionals often offer the best circumstances for career development and personal growth among engineers.
As the state with the highest number of architectural and engineering professionals in the country, California provides career opportunities for engineers of all kinds. California currently employs more than 330,000 architects and engineers, including large numbers of industrial, mechanical, and chemical engineers. Engineering technicians and technologists also enjoy high levels of employment in California.
Projected increases in engineering careers in California also offer options for engineers looking to enter the field or advance their careers. Mechanical engineers in California can expect a projected 10% occupation growth by 2026, higher than the national forecast of 9%. Computer hardware engineers are projected to increase by 10% as well, far above the projected 6% national growth.
Mechanical engineers in California earn far more the national median wage of $86,000, taking home an annual median salary of over $98,000. Mechanical engineers in major metropolitan areas like San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Cruz earn median salaries above $100,000. Computer hardware engineers earn more than $130,000 as an annual median salary, more than $15,000 above the national figure.
Civil and petroleum engineering rank high among the engineering fields in Texas. Texas, which boasts the second-largest population of architectural and engineering professionals, offers strong employment opportunities for mechanical, industrial, and electrical engineers, as well.
Petroleum engineers in Texas earn the highest salaries in the country, with annual wages topping $200,000 annually. Petroleum engineers in Texas should see an above-average projected occupation growth of 18% by 2026. Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Midland, and San Antonio rank among the top cities with the largest groups of petroleum engineers in the country. Dallas, Houston, Corpus Christi, and Beaumont rank among the top 10 highest-paying metropolitan areas in the United States, as well.
Estimates for civil engineers indicate a 21% occupation growth by 2026, far above the 11% forecast for the country. Civil engineers in Texas also outearn their counterparts around the nation with an annual median salary of over $89,000. The national median hovers around $85,000.
Alaska offers civil engineers the highest salaries in the United States, with an annual mean wage of over $120,000. Civil engineers in Anchorage make the highest incomes among the profession, earning about $128,000.
Civil engineers make up the largest number of engineers in Alaska, with petroleum engineers close behind. Petroleum engineers outearn their colleagues across the country with annual median salaries over $137,000. Petroleum engineers in Anchorage earn an annual median salary of over $148,000, while the national median just exceeds $132,000.
Materials engineers in Alaska can expect a projected 8% growth by 2026, and computer hardware engineers should experience a 7% rise. Both estimates exceed the national projections of 2% and 6%, respectively, and offer engineering professionals high-paying, in-demand career paths. Materials engineers in Alaska earn more than $5,000 above the national mean salary, while computer hardware engineers in cities like Anchorage earn more than $6,000 above the annual mean across the U.S.
Industrial engineers and industrial engineer technicians should see enormous growth by 2026, according to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a respective 30% and 31% increase. Industrial engineers and industrial engineer technicians in Alabama earn above the national median wage for the the field. Industrial engineers' annual median wage in metropolitan centers such as Decatur, Mobile, and Huntsville far exceeds the national median wage of just under $86,000. Industrial engineer technicians across the state of Alabama earn an annual median wage totaling almost $4,000 more than the national average.
Mechanical engineers should also experience fast occupation growth by 2026, with a 21% projected increase. The growth for chemical engineers, estimated at 11%, also indicates that plentiful opportunities await engineering professionals in Alabama.
Overall, Huntsville, Alabama ranks high among cities for architecture and engineering managers in the United States. The annual mean wage for these professionals exceeds $150,000.
The job outlook for engineers in Georgia remains high for numerous subsets of the field. The Atlanta metropolitan area currently employs the seventh-largest group of architectural and engineering professionals in the country. The projected national growth for industrial engineers sits at 10% but in Georgia, industrial engineering professionals should experience an estimated 22% rise. Mechanical engineers may see a comparable 22% increase, while materials engineering jobs should grow by 18%. As the state of Georgia looks to develop its aerospace engineering industry, aerospace engineers can expect to experience an estimated 26% increase by 2026. Industrial engineering technicians and mechanical engineering technicians should also see 17% and 18% increases, respectively.
The earning potential for the expanding engineering industry in Georgia remains high, as well. Industrial engineers in cities such as Augusta earn more than $7,000 above the national annual median wage. Mechanical engineers see similar high wages in Augusta, with an annual mean salary above $110,000.
With proximity to the Washington D.C. area, sections of Maryland contribute to the sixth-largest group of architectural and engineering professionals in the United States. Maryland is projected to see growth in industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, and materials engineering on par with or above the average national growth for those fields.
The increase in opportunities for engineering technicians and technologists echoes these numbers. Industrial engineering technicians in Maryland earn about $10,000 more than the average American industrial engineer. These numbers increase in the Silver Springs area near Washington D.C. Mechanical engineering technicians in the Wilmington, Maryland area outearn mechanical engineering technicians around the country by more than $10,000 annually.
Industrial development in defense technology and manufacturing continues to influence engineering fields, with jobs added to Maryland’s economy on an ongoing basis. The reported demand for manufacturing engineers highlights the need for engineers in the state.
With the manufacturing and energy industries in Michigan on the rise, professionals in these fields should see continued opportunities for employment. Michigan hosts the third-largest number of architecture and engineering professionals and engineers in the country. Civil engineers and mechanical engineers are projected to experience significant growth by 2026, which should lead to employment options for engineering workers and managers alike.
Most civil engineers, estimated to increase by 17%, hold bachelor’s degrees, while civil engineer technicians, with a predicted 15% increase, can gain employment with some college coursework or associate degrees. Mechanical engineers and mechanical engineer technicians, with 10% and 7% growth predicted, respectively, achieve the same levels of education.
Industrial engineers in Michigan earn a higher annual median wage than the national figure -- $85,000 vs. $87,000, respectively. In most metropolitan areas, including Flint, Detroit, and Warren, industrial engineers earn more than $90,000 annually.
The strength of the aerospace and software engineering fields in Florida provide opportunities for engineers to find lucrative, rewarding careers. Computer systems engineers in Florida will experience a projected 19% increase by 2026, far higher than the 9% rise around the country. Aerospace engineers in Florida should see a projected 14% increase in that time period, comparable to the rise expected for manufacturing and materials engineers. Aerospace engineers continue to find endorsement and funding through Florida’s growing aerospace industry.
The projected growth for Florida’s mechanical engineers and mechanical engineering technicians exceeds the national estimated 6% rise, with 20% and 22% increases expected, respectively. As individuals that design, test, and implement engines and equipment for a variety of fields, these professions remain in high demand.
With the technology sector adding new jobs to Florida’s economy and continued development of engineering education programs in Florida, students and professionals alike find continued opportunities for growth in the state.
The diversity of Washington’s economy offers opportunities to engineers in the computer hardware engineering and mechanical engineering fields, among others. Industrial engineers and manufacturing engineers can expect to experience increases comparable to the national projections for growth by 2016: 10% and 6%, respectively. Computer hardware engineers and mechanical engineers, however, should exceed national growth estimates.
Occupations for computer hardware engineers in Washington are projected to grow by 33% through 2026, where the national increase rests at 6%. Computer hardware engineers in Washington also earn higher annual median wages than their colleagues around the country. Computer hardware engineers in Washington earn more than $117,000 while the national median holds steady at about $115,000. The earning potential for computer hardware engineers goes up in major metropolitan areas like Seattle.
Job options for engineers of all education levels also characterize the engineering industry in Washington. Most engineering degrees require professionals to hold bachelor’s degrees, but advanced positions and higher levels of education provide numerous opportunities in Washington. The Kennewick-Redmond area in Washington hosts the second-highest concentration of architectural and engineering managers in the country.
As the top-paying state for architecture and engineering managers, Colorado offers extensive opportunities for engineering professionals. Architecture and engineering managers in Colorado earn an average mean wage of over $171,000. Colorado also has the fourth-strongest concentration of architecture and engineering professionals in the United States.
Projections for industrial engineers in Colorado by 2026 estimated that the occupation should grow by 16%, exceeding national projections of a 10% rise. Materials engineers, manufacturing engineers, and aerospace engineers may also see high growth levels, indicative of the strong engineering industry in the state. Materials engineers should grow by an estimated 13%, manufacturing engineers by 17%, and aerospace engineers by 20%.
The continued development of technology and energy sectors in Colorado drive the need for engineers as well. Petroleum engineers benefit from the increased natural gas extraction in Colorado, an industry that grew by 51% between 2005 and 2015. Petroleum engineers earn higher annual median wages than their national counterparts by almost $15,000.
Propelled by its innovation initiatives, the engineering industry in Massachusetts should remain strong at least through 2026, according to estimates. Computer hardware engineers, industrial engineers, and mechanical engineers should all see levels of increase comparable to figures projected for national growth.
Industrial engineers in Massachusetts outearn their national counterparts with annual median salaries over $97,000. The national annual median salary holds at just under $86,000. In major metropolitan areas such as Boston and Lowell, earning potential for industrial engineers exceeds $100,000 annually. This trend remains consistent for manufacturing engineers and aerospace engineers, as well.
The state of Massachusetts also provides supports for key industry development. Manufacturing engineers and manufacturing engineering technicians may benefit from the programs designed to support manufacturing training in the state. Biomedical engineers, engineering researchers, and entrepreneurs who work within the engineering industry can also seek support from Massachusetts.
With projections for growth in engineering professions in Ohio comparable to national estimates, the state of Ohio offers continued opportunities for engineers in numerous fields. Ohio employs the fifth-largest group of general engineering professionals in the United States.
Computer software engineers and architects have experienced higher levels of growth than many of their engineering colleagues, with an estimated 22% increase between 2008 and 2018. The field also experienced a workplace change of nearly 17% between 2008 and 2018. Civil engineers and civil engineering technicians also saw vast estimated growth during the period.
The west northwestern and north northeastern nonmetropolitan regions of Ohio host some of the largest numbers of architectural and engineering workers and managers in the country. Metropolitan centers in Ohio offer higher salaries than the national median wage, with manufacturing engineers in cities like Dayton and Cleveland earning over $100,000 annually.
New Mexico hosts the second-most architectural and engineering engineering professionals and managers in the country, leading to plenty of entry-level and advanced opportunities in the state. Industrial engineers in New Mexico earn far more than those around the country. The annual median wage for industrial engineers in New Mexico exceeds $91,000, while their national median wage stands at about $85,000. Civil engineers and general engineers also earn above-average salaries in New Mexico.
The demand for manufacturing engineers and petroleum engineers in New Mexico remains consistent with the national projected growth to 2026. With gas extraction and the manufacturing industries contributing heavily to New Mexico’s economy, both professions remain lucrative and in-demand. In late 2017, New Mexico became the >third-largest producer of oil in the United States. The continued trend has improved New Mexico’s overall economy, prompting forecasts for future growth.
The New York metropolitan area includes numerous industrial and technological opportunities for engineering professionals. With high employment levels for architectural and engineering professionals and managers, New York City and its surrounding areas house the third-largest number of entry-level, mid-level, and advanced careers in the field.
Manufacturing engineers can expect an estimated 10% occupation increase by 2026, above the projected national figure of 6%. Manufacturing engineers in cities other than New York City outearn their fellow workers across the country. In Nassau, Utica, and Syracuse, manufacturing engineers make above the annual median salary of just over $97,000.
Industrial engineers in New York state earn just under the national median wage with cities such as Albany and Ithaca offering much higher salaries than other parts of the state. Industrial engineers will experience a projected 14% increase by 2026.
Recent investments and initiatives promoting clean energy in New York are likely to spur growth among energy engineers and other environment-oriented engineering professionals.
With support for engineering and technology funding educational programs in the state, Illinois continues to expand energy and technology sectors. Civil engineers and industrial engineers will experience job growth comparable to national trends by 2026. Civil engineer technicians and industrial engineer technicians are projected to experience similar trends, giving engineering professionals with bachelor’s and associate degrees numerous opportunities for professional growth.
The Chicago metropolitan area offers the highest salaries to many engineers, but the Springfield area and regions further south also provide lucrative employment options. Civil engineers in Springfield, for example, outearn their counterparts in the rest of the state. The same holds true for civil engineering technicians, who earn above-average wages, bringing home the highest salaries in Springfield.
With strong populations of architecture and engineering professionals and managers in both the northern region of the state and the southern nonmetropolitan area, engineers throughout Indiana can find opportunities for career growth.
The engineering industry in Indiana continues to grow as companies add jobs related to government contracts and military production. Mechanical engineers should experience a 14% occupation increase by 2026, higher than the national forecast of 9%. Mechanical engineer technicians are projected to see a similar growth at 12%, much higher than the estimated 5% increase across the country. Workers in both professions plan, install, and oversee the installation of mechanical equipment, making them fundamental to several industries in Indiana.
Civil engineers and civil engineer technicians, who design and supervise construction and building projects, have access to additional options for entry-level and mid-level employment. Industrial engineers and industrial engineer technicians, with respective projected growth rates of 19% and 7%, echo the continued opportunities in the engineering profession.
Pennsylvania employs the fourth-largest group of materials engineers in the country, a trend that will continue with further investment and development in the field. Materials engineers may specialize in designing or using a single type of material or mineral, and these professionals are projected to grow at an above-average rate in Pennsylvania. Occupations for materials engineers should grow by 7% by 2026, significantly exceeding the 2% national projection. Materials engineers in cities such as Philadelphia earn an average median salary of more than $110,000, which surpasses the national median figure of just over $94,000.
Civil engineers, civil engineer technicians, mechanical engineers, and mechanical engineering technicians will grow at rates comparable to national estimates. These industries are projected to grow by about 10% in Pennsylvania -- on par with the national average -- so professionals in these fields can expect continued career opportunities.
As employment figures for STEM fields continue to rise, Oregon cities rank well on the list of locations ideal for engineering professionals. Civil engineers in Oregon should grow by an estimated 16% by 2026, faster than the 11% nationwide projection. Civil engineering technicians are projected to experience an 11% rise, giving employment options to professionals with educations at various levels.
Mechanical and industrial engineering professionals should also see significant increases in Oregon by 2026, according to labor projections. Salaries for mechanical engineers exceed annual median wages, with cities like Portland and Corvallis offering mechanical engineering professionals even higher earning potential. Industrial engineering technicians in Oregon outearn the median wage for industrial engineering technicians across the country by more than $4,000 annually.
The state of Oregon actively pursues environmental initiatives, giving environmental engineers increased opportunities for professional options, as well. Environmental engineers will see a projected growth of 15% by 2026, and earn more than the national median wage for their field, offering incentives for environmental engineering professionals in the state.
The resurgence of the manufacturing industry in North Carolina contributes to the estimated growth for manufacturing engineers in the state. By 2026, manufacturing engineers will experience a 13% occupation increase, with the national growth estimate hovering at 6%. In conjunction with manufacturing, North Carolina is also projected to see growth in the aerospace industry, prompting a 12% increase in aerospace engineering positions by 2026. Aerospace engineers -- who work with, test, and design aircraft, spacecraft, and comparable technologies -- earn median salaries above the national median figure, particularly in areas of the state close to military facilities along the Virginia border.
Increases for industrial and mechanical engineers in North Carolina exceed national expectations, as well. Industrial engineering positions should grow an estimated 14% by 2026, while mechanical engineers will increase by 15%.
The Research Triangle in Raleigh-Durham provides engineering professionals with industry and academic employment opportunities. The technology sector in the Research Triangle represents the nation’s second fastest-growing technology area, particularly for the information technology and telecommunications fields. As a result, software security engineers and comparable professionals remain in high demand.
Louisiana ranks as the fourth highest-paying state for petroleum engineers. Given its location on the Gulf of Mexico and the ongoing growth of the petroleum industry in Louisiana, the need for petroleum engineers will continue to grow in Louisiana. The need for materials, industrial, and manufacturing engineers should also rise, exceeding national estimates.
Engineers in Louisiana make above the national median wage in numerous fields. Industrial engineers earn an annual median wage over $92,000, with the national figure resting at just under $86,000. Civil engineers earn an annual median wage of almost $94,000, while the national median falls at just over $83,000. Civil engineers in cities such as Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Monroe earn even higher median wages.
With a focus on infrastructure, buildings, and construction, civil engineers provide valuable services and support to the populations and industries in the state of Louisiana. Continued work to restore shore areas, recover from natural disasters, and prevent future devastation creates engineering opportunities throughout Louisiana.
Idaho Falls represents the metropolitan area in the United States with the largest number of materials engineers. Materials engineers in the area also earn the fourth-highest salaries among materials engineering professionals in the country, indicating the strength of the field in Idaho. Materials engineers earn more than $120,000 per year on average, far more than the national mean of just under $95,000. Materials engineers across the country should experience a projected 2% increase by 2026, but in Idaho, the expected increase hovers at 8%.
Mechanical engineers, civil engineers, and manufacturing engineers in Idaho should experience occupation growth on par with the national average. Manufacturing engineers in Idaho earn higher median wages than their colleagues across the country, with annual mean incomes of over $100,000. Industrial engineers and industrial engineer technicians should also experience increased job opportunities through 2026, according to labor estimates, and industrial engineers in Idaho outearn other industrial engineers around the country.
Industrial engineering professionals plan, implement, and test industrial processes. These professionals should experience an estimated 22% increase for technicians and a 16% rise for engineers by 2026. With national estimates for the fields at 1% and 10%, respectively, industrial engineers will be particularly well-positioned for careers in Wisconsin.
Mechanical engineers are projected to experience an estimated 10% increase by 2026, and manufacture engineering technicians will see a 5% rise -- both comparable to national projections. The strong growth among various engineering fields provides engineering professionals with various options for professional growth.
Computer hardware engineering and energy engineering should also see above-average growth. Energy engineers, who work to design and improve energy systems and reduce energy costs, earn particularly high salaries in the western portion of the state, near the Minnesota border.
Estimated growth for environmental engineers in Utah by hovers around 32% by 2026 -- much faster than their national projected 8% growth. Environmental engineers work to remediate and prevent environmental hazards, which ties closely to work in other engineering fields, including civil and petroleum engineering. Civil engineers should see a projected 36% occupation increase, and petroleum engineers should experience a 28% growth. Mechanical engineers will see a comparable increase, at 32%.
According to the State of Utah’s Department of Workforce Services, most areas of engineering will experience growth during the upcoming years, including a rise in positions for sales engineers, transportation engineers, and automotive engineers.
Annual median salaries for engineering professionals in Utah stand on par with or below national median wages, but with above-average cost of living statistics, earnings remain lucrative.
The growth of the construction industry in Arizona contributes to the need for civil engineers, industrial engineers, and architectural and engineering managers in the state. Civil engineers will see a projected 19% increase through 2026, with industrial engineers forecast to grow by 27%. Architectural and engineering managers should increase by 17%.
Civil engineers and industrial engineers, positions that usually require some college training, offer entry-level positions for engineers, while managerial engineering jobs provide career options to professionals with advanced training and experience. Growth among civil and industrial engineering technicians, careers that do not require a college background, further provide individuals looking to enter the field with opportunities for engineering careers.
The technology sector, much like the construction industry, offers engineering professionals in Arizona a variety of positions to pursue. In another subset of engineering, computer-based engineers can take advantage of the projected 19% increase for computer hardware engineers and 17% rise for software quality assurance engineers.
Nevada employs the fifth-largest number of mining and geological engineers in the country, an industry that will continue to experience above-average growth through 2026, according to estimates. Mining and geological engineers survey the ground to determine potential mining sites and assess for safety, equipment use, and geological conditions. Mining and geological engineers in major Nevada cities like Reno and Las Vegas earn more than the national median salary, with Reno employing the 10th-highest number of these engineers in the country.
Mechanical engineers, environmental engineers, and industrial engineers will see significant growth by 2026, with salaries comparable to their counterparts around the country. Most mechanical, environmental, and industrial engineers hold their bachelor’s degrees, or some college training. As construction growth continues to improve Nevada’s economy, and the engineering sector continues to thrive, the need for architectural and engineering professionals with advanced experience and degrees will continue to increase. The projected growth for architectural and engineering managers, a field which often requires a master’s degree, is estimated at 31% to 2026.
How to Choose a Master's in Engineering Program
There are many factors to consider while exploring master's programs. Timeline, cost, and course format all help to shape the graduate experience. Earning an engineering master's degree typically takes around two years to complete, with a few requiring as little as one year of study. Learners who enroll part-time or pursue additional research may take up to five years to earn their degree. Online programs generally cost less per credit than their on-campus equivalents, and distance learners may avoid the transportation and living costs associated with on-site education. Many online programs target working professionals, who benefit from flexible scheduling as well as reduced costs. Web-based degrees come in a variety of delivery formats and methods, from accelerated courses to hybrid programs that feature on-campus residencies. You can explore some of the best engineering master's programs available online here.
Program specializations are another crucial aspect to keep in mind as you consider your options. Your prospective job path, personal interests, and academic goals should play a significant role in selecting a school. Engineering includes many subsections, and students with specific career goals must select a program that will enhance their desired career path. While many schools offer concentrations in everything from aerospace to bioengineering, some programs do not include specializations at all. Others present a variety of elective courses, and allow students to complete area-specific electives. Some concentrations, however, are offered more frequently than others, and certain specializations may not be available online.
Programmatic Accreditation for Master's in Engineering Programs
School accreditation impacts your education, finances, and employment opportunities. During the accreditation process, external organizations known as accrediting bodies evaluate colleges and universities to ensure that each institution upholds the highest academic and ethical standards. Only accredited institutions are eligible to receive federal funding. Schools may hold regional or national accreditation, depending on the body that assesses them. Regionally accredited schools are more prestigious, and credits earned at regionally accredited institutions easily transfer. Many employers prefer to hire graduates from regionally accredited schools.
Additionally, specialized departments or programs within a school can earn programmatic accreditation from subject-specific accrediting organizations. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is the only accrediting body dedicated to evaluating engineering programs. ABET sets and upholds industry standards and guidelines. Candidates are expected to hold a degree from an ABET-approved engineering program before applying for professional certification, registration, and licensure.
Master's in Engineering Program Admissions
Both online and on-campus engineering degree master's programs are challenging, and college admissions boards seek candidates with promising academic backgrounds and the drive to succeed. Most engineering programs are also highly competitive, accepting only a minority of applicants. While admissions guidelines tend to vary by program and school, some requirements are nearly universal. Before pursuing a master of science in engineering, prospective students are expected to earn a baccalaureate degree, take the GRE, complete prerequisite coursework, and provide letters of recommendation with a completed application.
Many schools also require that applicants provide a personal goal or purpose statement. These statements present the opportunity to clearly articulate why you are pursuing a master's degree and how you intend to succeed. For example, working professionals who apply to online programs should demonstrate that they can manage their time and complete assignments while fulfilling other obligations.
- Bachelor's Degree: All individuals applying to a master's in engineering program must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. Prospective students are usually expected to hold a degree in engineering or a related field, or to have completed extensive coursework related to engineering.
- Professional Experience: Prospective graduate students are not usually expected to hold professional engineering experience. However, a relevant work history may help to set your application apart from other candidates.
- Minimum GPA: Master's programs are highly competitive, and most schools expect candidates to hold a minimum undergraduate GPA; typically, 3.0. Strong GRE scores, professional experience, and an excellent personal essay may help to offset a lower GPA.
- Application: A graduate school application typically asks for a student's basic biographical information, and takes around 30 minutes to complete. While some institutions expect candidates to provide an essay at the same time as their application, most schools let applicants submit their essays at a later date.
- Transcripts: Applicants should provide prospective programs with official transcripts from every school they have previously attended. Transcripts demonstrate that a student has fulfilled all prerequisites and graduated in good academic standing. Most schools can send transcripts directly to prospective institutions for a small fee.
- Letters of Recommendation: Most graduate programs expect applicants to provide one or two letters of recommendation from former faculty or professional contacts. It may be useful to supply your recommending professors with your resume and purpose statement, and request their assistance at least one month in advance.
- Test Scores: Many programs include GRE scores among their standard admissions components, although preferred minimum scores vary considerably between schools. Master's engineering programs tend to focus on the exam's quantitative portion, and students should aim for a competitive score of 160 or higher.
- Application Fee: Most graduate schools charge an application fee to cover review and processing costs. While fees usually average around $75-$85, some institutions may charge as little as $50 or as much as $150.
What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Engineering Program?
Engineering encompasses many different specialities and subfields, all of which require specialized training and coursework. While every master's in engineering program is different, many include concentrations, or specialized academic tracks. Concentrations allow candidates to explore a particular area in greater depth. The following table outlines a few of the most commonly-offered engineering concentrations.
Concentrations Offered for a Master's Degree in Engineering
|Biomechanics||Combining the life sciences with engineering, this concentration addresses topics such as cell biology, tissue engineering, and anatomy. By exploring the relationship between solid and fluid mechanics to the human body, candidates learn to develop innovative medical technologies and devices.||Genetic engineering; disease prevention specialist; researcher|
|Robotics||A robotics specialization provides an in-depth look at mechanics, digital technologies, and electrical engineering. Coursework explores emerging technologies and their implementation methods, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Many programs include courses related to computer animation and graphics.||Robotics specialist; testing technician; researcher; systems controller|
|Environmental Engineering||Environmental engineering concentrations cover sustainable construction techniques, industrial ecology, public health issues, and green technology. Candidates survey air and water quality improvement methods and learn to solve environmental problems through engineering.||Environmental engineer; government environmental consultant; industrial facility inspector|
|Aerospace Structures||Aerospace engineering majors who declare a structure concentration examine material mechanics and how materials may be affected by vibration, fatigue, elemental components, and setting.||Aerospace engineer; aerospace operations technician; materials engineer|
|Forensic Engineering||Many individuals who study civil engineering select an additional forensic engineering specialization. This track explores the root causes behind structural failures and how to prevent collapses from occuring.||Forensic structural engineer; construction manager|
Courses in a Master's in Engineering Program
All master's of engineering programs feature different course offerings and degree specializations, and no two curricula are alike. However, some foundational courses are considered integral to any engineering graduate program. Classes like the examples below impart fundamental concepts and skills, and you are likely to encounter at least one of the following courses in nearly any master's of engineering program.
- Systems Engineering
This class examines how complex systems are conceptually designed, constructed, and managed. Coursework typically covers both hard and soft systems, as well as applied techniques and integral practices commonly used in a variety of professional settings. Ideal for prospective systems engineers, this course may also prove beneficial for students considering managerial positions.
Bioengineering presents a survey of the mechanics, controls, and techniques used to develop physiological and medical systems. Learners interested in cellular and genetic engineering explore cutting-edge technological methods, such as creating artificial tissues and organs for transplantation.
In this physics-based course, learners gain a thorough understanding of heat and energy transfer processes and how they apply to mechanical systems. Lectures discuss gas- and vapor-powered technologies, combustion, and other fundamental topics. Most engineering students must complete a thermodynamics course during their academic career.
- Introduction to Mechatronics
Mechatronics coursework provides prospective mechanical and robotics engineers with an overview of motors, microprocessors, integrated circuits, and electromechanical systems. Candidates develop proficiency in using mechanical and electrical technologies and learn to apply their skills in various settings.
- Applied Mathematics
Engineers use applied mathematics on a daily basis, and all engineering students must master linear and nonlinear equations. This course introduces the mathematical formulas and physics calculations used across engineering disciplines.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's in Engineering?
Earning a master's degree in engineering requires a substantial time commitment. Most programs require at least 30 credit hours and around two years of full-time study. Depending on specialization and delivery structure, some may take as many as three years to complete or as little as one. In certain instances, part-time learners may be given up to six years to finish their degree.
Many shorter programs focus on a very narrow concentration, or expect candidates to apply transfer credits to their degree requirements. Others offer asynchronous courses presented in accelerated or self-paced formats. Students who prefer a more structured experience may be interested in cohort-based programs, which offer a greater deal of faculty support but generally take longer to complete. As you explore program options and course delivery methods, it is important to consider your own learning style, career goals, and personal preferences.
How Much Is a Master's in Engineering?
While engineering is a lucrative field, pursuing an engineering master's degree requires a significant financial investment. The total cost of a degree ultimately depends on numerous factors, including course delivery method and program length. Online programs typically cost less per credit hour than on-campus programs, and distance learners avoid many expenses associated with campus living, such as housing, transportation, and facility fees. Some institutions charge online students a per-credit technology fee, however, and distance learners must still pay for books and other necessities. Residency also influences cost, and students attending on-campus programs in their home state generally pay lower tuition rates than nonresidents. However, many schools charge all distance learners the same per-credit rate regardless of residency status.
A school's public or private status is another variable to consider. Because public schools receive state and federal funding, they are able to charge less for tuition. Private colleges obtain funding through tuition and external public contributions, and tend to feature higher tuition rates as a result. Fortunately, many private schools offer generous financial aid packages, which often cover a significant portion of tuition costs, and most institutions, both public and private, offer need-based scholarships and aid opportunities.
Certifications and Licenses a Master's in Engineering Prepares For
- Associate Engineering Manager Certification
Intended for recent graduates and new professionals seeking supervisory positions, this credential designates competence in technical management. Students may apply to take the exam through the American Society of Engineering Management. Testing fees run between $100 and $250, depending on which engineering master's degree program a candidate has completed.
- Professional Engineer (PE)
PEs are licensed by the state to provide public engineering services. Prospective PEs must first obtain an undergraduate degree, although earning a master's degree is considered a best practice. Candidates may apply for licensure after completing several years of professional training and passing competency exams.
- Professional Engineering Manager
This credential validates both technical skills and managerial competence. To qualify, candidates must earn a master of science in engineering and complete at least three years of professional experience before sitting for the certification exam.
- Ocean Engineer (Board Certified Diplomate)
This unique credential allows PEs to combine their interests in engineering, oceanography, and technology. Along with completing twelve years of professional experience and earning a master's degree, candidates must demonstrate advanced knowledge of maritime engineering and pass a board examination.
- Environmental Engineering Certification
To become a certified environmental engineer, candidates must pass both written and oral examinations. First, however, they are required to obtain state PE licensure. Applicants must also hold an advanced degree with an environmental engineering focus and complete at least eight years of professional experience, including mandatory activities in the field.
Resources for Engineering Graduate Students
This organization offers numerous resources for engineering students, including scholarships, licensing information, and professional advice. Student members may enroll in one of several free online courses.
Coursera provides free university-level courses on a variety of subjects, including mathematics, science, and engineering. Learners may supplement their master's curriculum by completing courses on their own schedule.
MIT's engineering program offers free access to a variety of programs and tools, as well as sample lectures, online textbooks, and other resources.
From test prep to coding, this free, public site hosts educational videos and other learning resources on every subject imaginable. Engineering students can explore and review topics in physics, electrical engineering, circuits, and other relevant topics.
The Engineering Toolbox compiles many helpful tools for engineers, such as unit converters, convenient lists of equations, and drawing sheets.
Professional Organizations in Engineering
Whether you are currently pursuing a master's degree in engineering or a recent graduate, professional organizations offer valuable resources to help you excel academically and professionally. Engineering organizations like those below host networking opportunities like conferences and seminars, and many sponsor mentorship programs that pair students and graduates with seasoned professionals. Members may enroll in continuing education programs, apply for certifications, and explore exclusive job boards.
Ensuring public safety and ethical work through advocacy and certification, the NSPE is the premier organization for professional engineers in all disciplines. Known for offering prestigious credentials, the NSPE also presents members with career resources and networking opportunities. The organization also hosts an annual conference.
This global nonprofit organization serves mechanical engineers through continuing education, professional networking, training, and research. ASME members also receive discounts on courses and books.
This organization offers board certification for environmental engineers, as well as training, workshops, and reference materials. The AAEES also helps connect young professionals with experienced academy members.
A global organization for engineers, the ASCE focuses on advancing public safety standards and professionals. The association publishes civil engineering journals and guidelines. Members may attend technical and professional conferences and take advantage of continuing education programs.
The IEEE is one of the largest technical professional organizations focused on electrical engineering. The institute compiles information on computing, engineering, and technology and provides members with access to publications, conferences, and educational and networking opportunities.