What Are the Different Types of Engineering? 

In this article, we will be discussing what Are the Different Types of Engineering degrees, and branches of engineering. Engineering is the process of designing and building devices, machines, and structures. Typically, the field is divided into five major branches, each with hundreds of subfields. Engineering majors can expect to earn a high salary in most cases. Because of its emphasis on math and science, many people consider engineering to be a difficult major. Engineering is one of the most popular and financially rewarding majors available to college students.

Engineering is a popular STEM field that provides career opportunities in a variety of industries, including oil, renewable energy, and medicine. Indeed, there are so many different types of engineering that many students are unsure which one they want to pursue. Learning about the key differences among the major engineering branches is one of the first steps in determining whether an engineering degree is right for you — and, if so, which field you should pursue.

What Are the Different Types of Engineering 

What Are the 19 Different Types of Engineering?

To engineer something is to build, design, or create it. As a result, engineering encompasses any branch of science or technology concerned with the design and development of machines, engines, and other products or structures. Some engineering fields are subfields of other engineering fields. Environmental engineering, for example, is frequently referred to as a subset of civil engineering. Because they combine aspects from multiple disciplines, some branches, such as industrial engineering, are considered interdisciplinary.

Other forms of engineering may not neatly fit into any of the above categories. Nuclear engineering, biological engineering, and rehabilitation engineering are among them. Most sources divide engineering into the five branches listed below.

1. Civil Engineering

Civil engineering is the study of the construction, design, and maintenance of physical structures that are used by the public, such as dams, bridges, tunnels, roads, airports, subway systems, and water supply systems. Many engineers today specialize in creating environmentally-friendly architecture to combat climate change. Civil engineers work in a variety of fields, including transportation, urban planning, and space exploration. The Great Wall of China, the Panama Canal, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Eiffel Tower are all famous civil engineering projects. 

Civil Engineering Subfields
Architectural engineeringHydraulic engineering
Coastal engineeringMining/geological engineering
Construction engineeringMunicipal/urban engineering
Earthquake engineeringOcean engineering
Energy engineeringRailway systems engineering
Environmental engineeringRiver engineering
Forest engineeringSanitary engineering
Geotechnical engineeringSolar engineering
Highway engineeringStructural engineering
Transport engineeringSustainable engineering
Utility engineeringTraffic engineering

2. Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineering, in its broadest sense, is concerned with chemicals. These engineers use scientific principles from chemistry, biology, math, and physics to design and manufacture materials and products. They may also devise novel methods for utilizing and transforming energy. Microorganisms, food, pharmaceuticals, and fuels are all things that chemical engineers can work with. Many of them use computers to design experiments in addition to performing experiments and other tasks in labs.

Chemical Engineering Subfields
Biochemical engineeringMetallurgical engineering
Biomedical engineeringMicrobial engineering
Biomolecular engineeringMolecular engineering
Biotechnological engineeringPaper engineering
Cellular engineeringPetroleum engineering
Corrosion engineeringPharmaceutical engineering
Food engineeringPlastics engineering
Genetic engineeringPolymer engineering
Materials engineeringProcess engineering
Welding engineeringTextile engineering
Tissue engineering

3. Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering is concerned with the design and manufacture of mechanical systems and other moving devices. Problem-solving, critical thinking, and math and physics principles are used by these professionals to turn concepts into functional products like ships, firearms, household appliances, turbines, and vehicles. Many of the core components used by mechanical engineers today have been used for thousands of years, including wheels, springs, screws, and axles.

Mechanical Engineering Subfields
Acoustical engineeringManufacturing engineering
Aeronautical engineeringMarine engineering
Aerospace engineeringMechatronics engineering
Agricultural engineeringPower plant engineering
Astronautical engineeringRobotics engineering
Automotive engineeringSports engineering
Wind engineeringThermal engineering

4. Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering is a relatively new branch of engineering that focuses on electrical equipment and electronics. It was first introduced in the nineteenth century. From small objects like microchips and computers to large-scale projects like satellites and power station generators, these engineers design, test, and maintain devices that use or produce electricity. The majority of electrical engineers work in an office or laboratory, but on-site work is also common.

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Electrical Engineering Subfields
Computer engineeringMechatronics engineering
Data engineeringMicroelectronic engineering
Electronics engineeringNanoengineering
Hardware engineeringNetwork engineering
Information technology engineeringOptical engineering
Telecommunications engineeringPower engineering
Web engineering

5. Industrial Engineering

Industrial engineering is the final engineering branch, which combines engineering with general business practices to lower costs, improve quality, and boost efficiency. These professionals are frequently employed in the service, entertainment, and healthcare industries. As an industrial engineer, you must be able to communicate effectively with others. Designing facilities and information systems, managing inventories, overseeing personnel assignments, and ensuring workplace safety are some of the primary responsibilities of industrial engineers.


Industrial Engineering Subfields
Manufacturing engineeringApparel engineering
Safety engineeringComponent engineering
Supply chain engineeringFinancial engineering
Systems engineeringFire protection engineering

6. Engineering management

Engineering management is another interdisciplinary field that has grown in recent years, with universities developing dedicated engineering management programs in response to industry demand for management-focused engineers. These courses, which are often developed jointly by the engineering and business faculties, combine industrial engineering skills with business expertise. You could combine one of the above engineering branches with management. If you want to do this kind of engineering, you should:

  • You’re curious about how engineering is used in various types of businesses, as well as the technical and organizational challenges that come with it.
  • You want to quickly advance to a management position while still using your technical skills.
  • You want to be in charge of product development, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution.

Engineering management can be divided into several categories, including engineering mathematics, management science, operations management, decision engineering, business statistics, and engineering statistics. 

7. Computer engineering

Computer engineering is the study of computer hardware and software design and prototyping. Electrical engineering and computer science are combined in this subject, and you may prefer to study computer engineering alongside one of these related subjects. If you want to do this kind of engineering, you should:

  • You’re interested in a computer-related engineering career, such as a software developer or computer engineer.
  • You’re curious about how computers work on a physical level and are interested in mathematics, science, and computers.
  • You want to create new products and systems based on computer scientists’ technological advances.

Computer engineering specializations may overlap with those offered in computer science degrees, such as computer graphics and network security, for example. Microprocessor/microcontroller systems, computer architecture, and VHDL (hardware description language) design are specialized subjects that are generally unique to computer engineering.

8. Aeronautical/space engineering

The research, design, development, construction, testing, science, and technology of aircraft are all covered by this branch of engineering. You could also major in astronautical engineering, which focuses on spacecraft and deep space conditions. If you want to do this kind of engineering, you should:

  • From the earliest conceptual sketches to the advancement of modern jets, you’re fascinated by the history and methodology of flying machines.
  • You are fascinated by the mechanics of flight travel.
  • Computer simulations and seeing how aircraft machinery performs under extreme conditions pique your interest.

Aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, composites analysis, avionics, propulsion, and structures and materials are all possible specializations in aeronautical engineering.

9. Systems Engineering

As engineering disciplines become more complex and technologically advanced, they increasingly converge and collaborate. Previously, civil and electrical engineers were primarily involved in the construction of a metro rail system. However, nowadays, the rail system must integrate digital apps and artificial intelligence. To predict ridership demand in real-time, it must communicate with bus systems, traffic control systems, and weather data. It necessitates security, not only physically but also electronically.

All of this must be done in an environment where passengers expect greater efficiencies and a more personalized customer experience. The world has changed dramatically in the last year, particularly as a result of COVID-19, when many businesses were forced to adopt digitalization quickly. As a result, key infrastructures have changed, such as hospitals treating outpatients online and banks using less physical cash. All of this necessitated the involvement of systems engineers.

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On a single project, systems work brings together multiple engineering disciplines. At the heart of the project, a systems engineer will be needed to focus on how multidisciplinary work will come together to build, manage, and maintain the infrastructure. According to the Engineering Futures 2035 scoping study, software and applications, programmers will see a 21% increase in employment over the next five years, with 60% of them working in professional services.

10. Environmental Engineering

Every infrastructure project faces environmental challenges, whether it’s a road or a bridge, a mine or a power plant. These could be in the soil on which the bridge is built, the refinement of mined raw materials, the recycling of waste products from an energy plant, or the safeguarding of a water supply. Environmental engineers use principles from chemistry, biology, geology, ecology, microbiology, and other disciplines to solve problems. 

They usually have a good understanding of other types of engineering as well. Their work is needed in a variety of areas, from developing world irrigation to assessing the impact of a new mining project. Another area where an environmental engineer will help is in the event of a major disaster. An environmental engineer’s average weekly salary is $2,165, and there is a high demand for qualified professionals.

11. Engineering Physics

An engineering physics degree combines engineering and physics, allowing students to research the areas where the two disciplines collide. It is also a prerequisite for graduate work in physics or engineering. The majority of graduates will work in research or another engineering field such as mechanical or nuclear engineering. This type of graduate is in particularly high demand.

12. Photonics Engineering

Photons are a particular kind of light. The field of photonics engineering is concerned with the study of light. This includes light generation, light signal processing, light amplification, and light modulation. Telecommunications (optical signal processing and communication), medical, manufacturing, aviation, and computing are just a few of the industries that use this technology. Opportunities for qualified Photonics Engineers are expected to grow significantly over the next decade.

13. Nanotechnology Engineering

One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter or between two and twenty atoms in length. Nanotechnology is the study and production of extremely small devices using extremely small elements such as molecules and single atoms. Nanotechnology, which has the potential to help solve some of the world’s major problems, such as health and environmental concerns, is expected to become as important to us as the industrial revolution over time. Nanotechnology is a highly specialized field with applications in a wide range of industries and fields.

14. Mining Engineering

A mining engineering degree focuses on the safe, cost-effective, and environmentally responsible extraction of mined resources from the earth. Engineers work in the mining industry in areas like machinery design and manufacturing, mine design, and mine construction. Mining engineers can work on-site or remotely to discover the most effective extraction techniques in collaboration with geologists.

16. Ceramic Engineering

Ceramic engineers create ceramic products (ceramics being non-metal, non-organic materials that are generally produced by heating and cooling). Due to their heat and cool resistance, ceramics are frequently used in industries such as medical, mining, and electronics.

17. Metallurgical Engineering

A metallurgical engineering degree entails learning how to extract and purify metals and other minerals from ore using engineering principles. Metallurgical engineers create and design processing techniques and machinery while also considering the impact of mineral processing on the environment.

18. Geomatics Engineering

A Geomatics Engineering degree entails learning how to use advanced equipment and techniques to map the earth’s environment. Geomatics engineers are crucial in the planning of future infrastructure, and they frequently work with large amounts of data to create digital replicas of terrain and 3D maps. This includes researching GPS technology. Because there is a scarcity of qualified geomatics professionals, they are in high demand.

19. Nuclear Engineering

Nuclear engineers are at the forefront of development for nuclear power’s ever-increasing use. Many recent advancements have benefited the medical field the most. Consulting firms, power plants, and government agencies all employ nuclear engineers. Nuclear engineers are in high demand in nuclear power plants, as expected. One of their responsibilities is to design, implement, and maintain the plant. Many nuclear engineers advance to supervisory and management positions.

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What Can You Expect to Make With an Engineering Degree?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, architecture and engineering workers earned an average annual salary of $83,160 in May 2020, which was nearly $40,000 higher than the national average. Depending on factors such as demand and industry, certain types of engineering jobs may pay more. The median salaries for some of the most popular engineering specialties are listed below.

ENGINEERING TYPEMEDIAN SALARY (MAY 2020)JOB GROWTH RATE (2020-30)
Petroleum Engineers$137,3308%
Computer Hardware Engineers$119,5602%
Aerospace Engineers$118,6108%
Nuclear Engineers$116,140-8%
Chemical Engineers$108,5409%
Electrical and Electronics Engineers$103,3907%
Materials Engineers$95,6408%
Marine Engineers$95,4404%
Health and Safety Engineers$94,2406%
Mining and Geological Engineers$93,8004%
Biomedical Engineers$92,6206%
Environmental Engineers$92,1204%
Mechanical Engineers$90,1607%
Industrial Engineers$88,95014%
Civil Engineers$88,5708%
Agricultural Engineers$84,4105%

Which engineering major is the most difficult?

Engineering is a notoriously difficult profession. These majors necessitate a lot of homework and classes covering advanced topics like calculus and physics. Some engineering majors, however, may be less strict than others. Chemical engineering, for example, is a challenging major for students because it emphasizes math and science. A 2016 study looked at how much time students in various majors spent each week preparing for class. Majors that demanded more preparation time were thought to be more difficult. According to this study, the hardest and easiest engineering majors are as follows.

TOP 3 HARDEST ENGINEERING MAJORSTOP 3 EASIEST ENGINEERING MAJORS
1. Chemical engineering (19.66 hours)1. Industrial engineering (15.68 hours)
2. Aero and astronautical engineering (19.24 hours)2. Computer engineering and technology (16.46 hours)
3. Biomedical engineering (18.82 hours)3. Civil engineering (17.40 hours)

Engineering Degrees Online

Engineering degrees come in a variety of forms, but not all of them are available online. Computer engineering, engineering management, Mechatronics engineering, and various Masters in Engineering degrees are among the most popular online engineering degrees. The online engineering degree, which is available at least one school in every branch of engineering, is a new concept in engineering academics. Although there aren’t many options for some branches right now, more and more colleges and universities are offering online engineering degrees at all levels. 

An online Master’s in Engineering is the most common so far. Many engineers who have already obtained their PE (Professional Engineer) license and are currently employed choose to pursue their Master’s degree through online engineering classes. Obviously, some specializations, such as Engineering Management, cater more to online engineering degrees, while others are more difficult to learn online. Online Engineering Degrees Are Available In:

  • Undergraduate: Certificate, Associates, Bachelors

More engineering schools are bringing their programs online every year. The first online engineering programs were mostly at the master’s level, but more online bachelor’s in engineering programs have recently become available. Consider enrolling in an online program offered by an accredited university that is currently accepting applications:

  • Graduate: Masters, Doctorate

There are a variety of Online Master’s in Engineering programs available in various engineering fields. The most popular online engineering programs appear to be computer engineering, software engineering, and engineering management.

Top Schools to Study online STEM/Engineering program:

SchoolLevelProgram
Stevens Institute of TechnologyMasterOnline Master of Engineering in Engineering Management
Rochester Institute of TechnologyMasterOnline Master of Architecture
Southern Methodist UniversityMasterMaster of Science in Network Engineering
University of WashingtonMasterMaster of Science in Information Management
Norwich UniversityMasterOnline Master of Civil Engineering
George Mason UniversityMasterMaster of Science in Data Analytics Engineering
University of DelawareMasterOnline MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Spring Hill CollegeBachelorOnline Bachelor’s in Computer Science

Should You Pursue an Engineering Degree?

Ask yourself the following questions about your interests, skills, and goals when deciding whether or not to major in engineering.

1. Do you excel in math and science?

Engineering degrees require a strong foundation in math and science. Calculus, algebra, statistics, physics, chemistry, and biology are all required courses in most undergraduate engineering programs. You’ll almost certainly have to take several labs as well.

2. Do you enjoy problem-solving?

Problem-solving is present in all engineering types. Your primary goal is to find practical solutions that will help to make the world a better, safer, and more efficient place. An engineering major may be a good fit for you if you consider yourself a strong critical thinker.

3. Are you ready to put in the effort in school?

Many people consider engineering to be one of the most difficult majors. Be aware of these high expectations if you’re considering an engineering degree. Engineering programs may require you to maintain a minimum GPA in addition to several hours of homework each week.

Conclusion

With so many different engineering fields, it’s natural to wonder which one is the best. While most differences exist in terms of work environment, salary, education, and career advancement, the answer to this question are entirely dependent on the individual. For example, someone who wants to work in a medical facility will have a different ideal engineering field than someone who wants to work with geology outdoors. Understanding your own background and career goals can go a long way toward determining which engineering field you are most interested in. Prior to pursuing the necessary education, successfully matching your goals with the appropriate field could be your first step.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is engineering a good profession to pursue?

Engineering graduates with top-notch qualities and extensive knowledge, according to research, get high-paying and highly rewarding jobs in the industry. And, of course, as you gain more skills and experience, your earnings will improve.

Which engineering is the most straightforward?

Environmental engineering is one of the less difficult engineering majors to pursue because it does not require as much advanced math and physics.

Elon Musk is what kind of engineer?

Elon Musk may not have a formal engineering degree, but he is clearly an industrial engineer. His business and problem-solving approach are typical of an industrial engineer. His actual degrees (BS in both economics and physics) have a lot in common with the IE undergraduate program. 5 Aug 2020

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