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Society of Women Engineers

A Look at Pay for STEM Professionals

Engineers are and will continue to be in high demand, so make sure that you find an employer that can offer you the benefits and balance that you seek.

Published On: February 2017

By Roberta Rincon, Ph.D., SWE Manager of Research

February 28, 2017

Pursuing a STEM career is a big draw for many because of the high demand that exists for quality STEM graduates and, hence, the high salaries that are possible. A recent article published online discussed the best places in the U.S. for pay in STEM. The results were based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2015 data, and though the calculated average pay includes non-engineering STEM professions, it was interesting to see what metro areas paid the highest salaries. Key findings were that:

  • STEM pay is highest on the West Coast, particularly in the San Jose metro area and the San Francisco and Oakland metro areas.
  • Physicists have some of the highest median salaries among STEM workers, but computer network architects are also high on the list.
  • The larger the STEM workforce, the higher the pay. Metro areas with more than 12% of the workforce in STEM fields had average STEM salaries over $80,000.

Interestingly, the top five metro areas listed mentioned the large or growing tech presence as a driving factor in the high STEM salaries. Which made me wonder: What engineering disciplines are in high demand right now? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections, software developers and programmers will be one of the most in-demand jobs through 2024, with over 485,000 job openings expected during this period. Among engineers, the following jobs are expected to have the largest number of job openings due to growth and replacement/retirement needs (estimated number of job openings in parentheses):

  • Civil engineers (106,700)
  • Mechanical engineers (102,500)
  • Industrial engineers (81,800)
  • Electrical and electronics engineers (71,400)
  • Environmental engineers (22,400)
  • Aerospace engineers (20,700)

U.S. News & World Report ranks the best engineering jobs based on more than just job growth. They include such factors as salary, stress level, and work-life balance:

  1. Environmental Engineer
  2. Mechanical Engineer
  3. Cartographer (degree required, but not necessarily in engineering)
  4. Petroleum Engineer
  5. Biomedical Engineer

Basically, engineers are and will continue to be in high demand, so make sure that you find an employer that can offer you the benefits and balance that you seek. For more information on employment and earnings trends, check out our SWE Research site.

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SWE – SWE Research and Stats