What Do Engineers Do? The 10+ Types of Engineers

What do engineers do? What types of engineers are there? An engineer solves issues by combining science, technology, and math. Engineering can be seen everywhere around us, changing how we work, travel, communicate, remain healthy, and enjoy ourselves.

Engineering, more than any other discipline, now provides more career options! Mechanical, chemical, civil, and electrical engineering were the four primary engineering fields in the past. The number of engineering degrees available nowadays is enormous. Mechanical, chemical, civil, electrical, managerial, and geotechnical engineering are currently the six primary fields of engineering, with hundreds of subcategories within each branch.

Manufacturing employed 27 percent of health and safety engineers, with construction accounting for 15% of the total.

What is an engineer?

An engineer is a skilled worker who creates, designs and maintains a wide range of machines, structures, and data systems. Engineers are also accountable for conforming to their employer's budget and deadline requirements. Engineers are specialists in their domains who are continuously inventing and innovating.

what do engineers do

What does an engineer do?

Engineers not only develop machines, construct buildings, and supervise public works projects, but they also handle society's demands and challenges on a variety of other levels. They focus on medication delivery methods that function inside cells on a molecular level.

They study the particle movement of contaminants through the soil at a macro level in order to clean up oil spills, abandoned industrial sites, and other biohazards.

They design spaceships for other-planet exploration on a cosmic scale. They create data storage based on the spin of electrons in atoms at the atomic level. Engineering also includes the provision of safe drinking water, food storage, and environmental protection.

Types of engineers

There are various types of engineers. Below are the numerous types:

  • Aerospace Engineer
  • Agricultural Engineer
  • Biochemical Engineer
  • Biofuel Manufacturing Research Engineer
  • Biomedical Engineer
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Civil Engineer
  • Computer Hardware Engineer
  • Computer Systems Engineer
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Flight Engineer
  • Geotechnical Engineer
  • Geothermal Engineer
  • Industrial Engineer
  • Mechanical Engineer
  • Mechatronics Engineer
  • Mining and Geological Engineer
  • Nanosystems Engineer
  • Nanotechnology Engineer
  • Nuclear Engineer
  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Photonics Engineer
  • Power Engineer
  • Product Safety Engineer
  • Robotics Engineer
  • Sales Engineer
  • Security Engineer
  • Ship Engineer or Marine Engineer
  • Software Engineer
  • Software Quality Assurance Engineer
  • Water Engineer
  • Wind Energy Engineer

Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineers are on the cutting edge of technology. Aerospace engineers create and model airplanes, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles to accomplish what engineers do best: map the unknown and put it to use through rigorous scientific modeling. They're altering the landscape of what's conceivable, whether it's placing a human on the moon, linking the world through satellite communication and air travel, or exploring the solar system's distant reaches.

Most aerospace engineers, according to the BLS, specialize in one of two categories of engineering: aeronautical or astronautical. Aeronautical engineers build aircraft systems to make planes that are lighter and stronger. Astronautical engineering, on the other hand, focuses on spacecraft and how equipment like satellites can navigate inside and beyond the Earth's atmosphere. Both of these specialities need a thorough understanding of physics.

Among the professional organizations are:

Automotive Engineer

Automotive engineering labor can be split into three categories, according to the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies (FISITA): design, research and development, and production. Automotive engineers, for example, are responsible for designing the inside and exterior of new automobiles, testing vehicle prototypes for safety, and ensuring that customer preferences are met, as well as fulfilling environmental and safety regulations in the future.

Among the professional organizations are:

Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers are engineers who work in the biological field. Biomedical engineers create technology that interacts with the live body, whether it's advanced prostheses, artificial internal organs, complicated diagnostic equipment, or novel medication therapies. They seek to improve, prolong, and extend life beyond its natural limitations.

While the majority of biomedical engineers work in research and development or quality assurance, the multidisciplinary nature of this field allows for specialization in areas such as biomaterials (naturally derived or laboratory-created materials), clinical engineering (medical technology for healthcare delivery), and rehabilitation engineering (development of devices that help people get back on their feet).

Among the professional organizations are:

Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers tackle global issues on a molecular level. They use technical abilities to help minimize pollution, optimize waste management, refine fuel products, increase the productivity of energy systems, modernize agricultural processes, and collaborate with manufacturing operations to address the larger environment. Chemical engineers use physics, mathematics, mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as chemistry, to solve problems.

So, how do these abilities manifest themselves in consumer markets? Chemical engineers are employed in the manufacture of electrical, food, textile, and paper products, according to the BLS. Process engineers are chemical engineers who work with oxidation (using oxygen to produce compounds) or polymerization (creating polymers and resins). Nanomaterials, the production of extremely tiny molecules, and biological engineering are some of the other areas of expertise.

Among the professional organizations are:

  • The American Chemical Society is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of science (ACS)
  • The American Institute of Chemical Engineers is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of chemical engineering (AIChE)
  • The Institution of Chemical Engineers is a professional organization of chemical engineers (IChemE)
  • The World Chemical Engineering Council is a non-profit organization that promotes chemical engineering

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers are responsible for the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical infrastructure that connects modern society. Civil engineers construct a jigsaw puzzle of moving pieces, such as roads, dams, buildings, airports, bridges, tunnels, water, and waste systems, and connect them in a safe, efficient, and productive manner. Three more specialties are nested beneath civil engineering:

Environmental engineers study how humans interact with their environment and how the environment interacts with humans, frequently in areas such as waste management, recycling, pollution, and public health.

Power systems engineers work in the smart grid, electric cars, and renewable energy sources to transmit electrical energy.

Dams, levees, drinkable water, and hydraulic energy are all applications of water systems engineering, which focus on fluid mechanics in waste and water storage and transportation.

Civil engineers produce permits for solar and wind turbine development, according to the BLS, to guarantee that renewable energy projects are approved and implemented properly. This involves assessing the site for increased construction traffic, wind speed, and seismic activity.

Among the professional organizations are:

  • The American Society of Civil Engineers is a professional organization of civil engineers in the United States (ASCE)
  • The American Concrete Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement (ACI)
  • The International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering is a professional organization dedicated to bridge and structural engineering (IABSE)
  • The American Society for Metals is an organization dedicated to the study of metals (ASM International)

Computer Engineer (Software Engineer)

Microprocessors, sensors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks, and routers are all technical components of computers that computer engineers design and build. Four sub-specializations within computer engineering have emerged as the discipline has grown:

Computer science is concerned with the techniques and infrastructures required for storing, synthesizing, and representing data in meaningful and transmutable ways.

Data science applies an engineering approach to the challenges of processing enormous amounts of data in scientifically rigorous ways and converts the zeros and ones into useful, real-world insights.

Cybersecurity engineers use conceptual extrapolation to plan for and avoid threats to networked systems, defending and repairing them from both external and internal corruption.

From applications to research engines, and even tools that allow people and machines to connect with one another, software engineers create and develop software that allows end-users to engage with the underlying complexity of network systems in smooth, elegant ways.

The BLS indicates that computer hardware engineers should be able to keep up with software development for any Internet-capable device as computer hardware technology advances beyond home usage and into mobile devices, wifi, home appliances, and automobile industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer hardware engineers were employed in the following industries in 2019: computer systems design services, semiconductor and electronics manufacturing, and research and development in physical, engineering, and biological sciences.

Among the professional organizations are:

Electrical Engineer

Electrical engineers design and develop various types of electrical equipment, including radar systems, GPS, and electric motors, as well as novel power production and transmission technologies. They collaborate with public and commercial organizations to improve today's systems and provide the groundwork for tomorrow's.

what do engineers do

Electrical and computer engineering (ECE) is a new subfield of engineering that studies how machines interact with computers, having applications in robots, autonomous cars, power systems, lasers, medical devices, and electromagnetics. According to the BLS, federal government electrical engineers are frequently entrusted with studying and designing electronic equipment for telecommunications, aviation, and radar and sonar systems.

Nanoengineering is a subfield of computer science and biomedical engineering that focuses on applications that function at one billionth of a meter—another impossible made feasible by the engineering mentality.

Among the professional organizations are:

Engineering Management

Engineering management serves as a bridge between the engineering and business worlds. Interfacing with both sides and simplifying the procedures and organizational structures of engineering teams and departments, engineering managers function as interpreters between the two worlds. Engineering managers use the engineering mindset—that is, establishing methods that allow each piece of a structure to function together for maximum efficiency—whether they are managing projects, goods, or people.

The BLS reveals that architectural and engineering managers (which are included in the same occupational category) spend the bulk of their time coordinating and directing production teams due to their natural understanding of the overall vision of the product or project development and design. While engineering managers work in a variety of industries, manufacturing and architectural, engineering, and related services were the leading employers in 2019.

Among the professional organizations are:

Industrial Engineer

Industrial engineers are responsible for the design and maintenance of manufacturing and industrial processes. This can involve the linked and efficient storage and distribution of different resources such as time, labor, equipment, materials, information, and energy, all of which are increasingly moving across geopolitical borders. Industrial engineers work with computer networks, robots, and organizational structures to achieve efficient, safe, and quick productivity, whether it's optimizing supply chain logistics, establishing job assessment tools, or calibrating manufacturing processes.

what do engineers do

One of the primary tasks of industrial engineers, according to the BLS, is to "discover solutions to minimize wastefulness in manufacturing processes". Transportation equipment production and computer and electronic product manufacture are the main employers of industrial engineers, which means they spend a lot of time monitoring factory operations, gathering data, and drawing conclusions about how to enhance workflow procedures.

Among the professional organizations are:

Material Engineer

Materials engineers create, process, and test raw materials such as ceramics, polymers, composites, and metals at the atomic level. Materials engineers can shape these elements to particular technical requirements, or they can take a creative approach and discover, create, or reproduce new materials, such as aluminum, that will one day become vital building blocks of the future.

Materials engineers are tasked with developing tactile materials at the atomic level from known components. Ceramic engineers, composite engineers, metallurgical engineers, plastics engineers, and semiconductor processing engineers are among the specialties for materials engineers listed in the BLS. Transportation equipment manufacture (15%) and engineering services (15%) are the top two businesses employing materials engineers in 2020, according to the BLS (13 percent).

Among the professional organizations are:

what do engineers do

Mechanical Engineer

The creation of machines is what mechanical engineering is all about. According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), such a wide mission has resulted in the establishment of more than 30 technical divisions, making mechanical engineering one of the most diverse engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers create and develop items as diverse as inkjet printer nozzles, elevators, manufacturing equipment, and temperature sensors, often combining thermodynamics and materials science. Mechanical engineers work with almost every other engineering discipline.

Mechanical engineers, as one of the most diverse engineering specialties, can be found everywhere machines are manufactured. Mechanical engineers include car research engineers (increasing automobile performance), heating and cooling systems engineers (creating temperature control systems), and robotic engineers, according to the BLS (designing and building robotics).

Among the professional organizations are:

  • The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is an organization dedicated to the advancement of mechanical engineering (ASME)
  • The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) is a professional organization of mechanical engineers (IME)
  • The Society of Manufacturing Engineers is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of manufacturing technology (SME)

Nuclear Engineer

Nuclear engineers use nuclear power and radiation to harness, analyze, and manage the power of the atom. Nuclear engineering is used in medical diagnosis and treatment as well as constructing reactor cores, radiation shielding, and power plant equipment. Nuclear engineers are highly schooled in the immense power and complexity of a world that is unseen to the naked eye. They develop solutions to avoid or correct nuclear power plant emergencies, securely dispose of nuclear waste, even identify and irradiate a tumor in the human body.

The majority of nuclear engineers work in research and development businesses or, in the case of nuclear power facilities, for the federal government. When creating instruments for energy infrastructure or healthcare facilities, nuclear engineers frequently collaborate with mechanical and electrical engineers to bring their expertise of energy and radiation to the table.

Among the professional organizations are:

Environmental Engineering

Environmental engineering is the area of engineering concerned with protecting humans from the negative impacts of the environment, such as pollution, as well as enhancing the quality of the environment. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, environmental engineers strive to enhance recycling, waste disposal, public health, and water and air pollution control.

what do engineers do

Environmental engineering has been practiced since the start of humanity. People have had to cope with the problems of supplying clean water and disposing of solid waste and sewage since they began living in semi-permanent communities. People have had to worry about air quality and soil contamination as cities have grown and large-scale farming and industries have emerged.

Environmental engineering average salaries

A recently minted environmental engineer with a bachelor's degree earned between $44,722 and $69,808. A mid-level engineer with a master's degree and five to ten years of experience earned between $65,890 and $106,126, while a senior engineer with a master's or doctorate and more than 15 years of experience earned between $82,193 and $133,930.

Many experienced engineers with postgraduate degrees get promoted to management positions or create their own consulting firms, which allows them to make even more money. Many engineers also move on to law school to pursue a career in environmental law and litigation.

Average salaries for engineers

Engineers earn an average annual pay of $85,720. However, salaries vary by industry, with industrial engineers earning $73,922 on average and aeronautical engineers earning $98,310 on average. Engineers' salaries are influenced by their experience as well.

Those with greater experience and demonstrated talents usually earn more.

Petroleum engineers made an average of $114,080 per year, or $54.85 per hour.

Skills for engineers

Engineers require a number of critical abilities. They will be better able to come up with ideas that will help them succeed and grow in their jobs as a result of these experiences.

  • Creativity: Engineers need to be creative in order to come up with fresh ideas and techniques.
  • Accountability: Engineers are accountable for properly expressing their ideas to the rest of their team. They have the option of doing so vocally or in writing.
  • Attention to detail: In engineering, tiny things can make a significant impact. These specialists must be able to spot even the tiniest details in a project.
  • Self-discipline: Engineering is a demanding profession with new challenges to tackle on a regular basis. Engineers must be self-disciplined enough to work on a project until it is completed.
  • Technical skills: Technical and scientific talents vary by speciality, however all engineers should have excellent technical ability.

How to become an engineer

Here's how to become an engineer.

Get a bachelor's degree

Engineers need a bachelor's degree at the very least, ideally in engineering or engineering technology. Most schools enable you to specialize, which will allow you to obtain in-depth expertise in a certain field of engineering. Look for an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology-accredited educational program.

Fundamentals of Engineering exam

The FE exam is the first of two exams that must be passed before a professional engineer can be licensed. You can take this test after graduation in most states. You will be recognized as an engineer in training or an engineer intern after completing the test.

Get entry-level work

Most jurisdictions require engineers to have a minimum of four years of relevant work experience before they can be licensed. Look for an entry-level engineering job or internship that will allow you to polish your abilities, enhance your technical knowledge, and prepare for licensing.

Complete the state licensure exams

Engineer license standards vary by state, but most states demand a test once you've completed the required job experience. To become a professional engineer, you must pass your state's test and meet any other criteria.

Prepare a resume

Create a comprehensive CV that details your technical experience with concrete examples. Describe the solutions and systems you've created, as well as their advantages. If your manufacturing procedures, for example, boost output by 30%, you should highlight this important figure. Include applicable abilities like communication, project management, and problem-solving on your resume.

what do engineers do

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

Fact checked: Our small and dedicated team rigorously evaluates every article, guide, and reference to ensure the information is accurate and factual. Learn more.


Help us by spreading the word