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Which engineering sectors pay the best?

Published on: 1 Jul 2024

Engineers are in demand in the UK and often command above average salaries for their roles. But pay varies by sector and company. Jobs site Indeed recently looked at the average pay for engineers in different sectors.

Which engineering sectors pay the best?

Chemical Engineering: A chemical engineer transforms raw materials into useful products, working either in industrial production or laboratories. Their tasks include developing new production processes using computer models, ensuring safety and cost-effectiveness, and managing the disposal and recycling of by-products and industrial waste.

Average annual salary: £34,931

Electrical Engineering: Electrical engineers focus on the design, maintenance, and construction of electrical systems, collaborating with mechanical and energy engineers. Their tasks include developing designs, conducting feasibility studies, creating circuit diagrams, using specialised software, testing new installations, overseeing projects, and ensuring safety regulations are met. 

Average annual salary: £37,386

Mechanical Engineering: A mechanical engineer designs, develops, and uses machinery and mechanical components for various industries such as energy, automotive, construction, and healthcare. They create technical plans and blueprints, assess new products, and conduct testing. Their work often involves collaboration with other engineering disciplines due to the widespread use of mechanical equipment.

Average annual salary: £36,292

Civil Engineering: Civil engineers design, construct, and manage large building projects, including residential buildings, bridges, stadiums, transport links, sewage systems, and dams. They may specialise in areas like structural engineering, transportation, water resources, geotechnical engineering, or environmental engineering. Their tasks involve client communication, developing plans, assessing environmental impacts, preparing bids, and overseeing construction.

Average annual salary: £37,301

Aerospace Engineering: An aeronautical or aerospace engineer designs and constructs airplanes, satellites, and spacecraft. Their work includes designing navigation equipment, communication systems, military hardware, and engines, using specialised software and testing prototypes. They handle data, testing, fuel efficiency, and regulatory requirements. Their work spans civil aviation, military hardware production, and space programs.

Average annual salary: £37,398

Biomedical Engineering: Biomedical engineers, also known as clinical or bio-engineers, design, maintain, and develop medical equipment used for treating patients or diagnosing conditions. This includes wheelchairs, test equipment, assistive technologies, artificial limbs, heart valves, joints, implants like hearing aids, and surgical tools such as those for keyhole surgery, scanning equipment, and monitoring systems. They collaborate closely with doctors and medical professionals and may work for the NHS, private healthcare providers, or in medical research facilities and laboratories.

Average annual salary: £36,677 

Petroleum Engineering: Petroleum engineers specialise in extracting oil and natural gas, researching and surveying new sites, and overseeing production and distillation processes. They work with industrial machinery, collaborate with technicians and professionals, and focus on meeting emissions targets and environmental standards. They also analyse and test samples in laboratories.

Average annual salary: £45,162

Robotics Engineering: Robotics engineers, also known as automation engineers, design and build autonomous machines for various industries. Their work involves research and design to determine clients' automation needs and develop prototypes using sensors, cameras, and AI systems. They collaborate closely with mechanical, aeronautical, biomedical engineers, and IT professionals to implement these systems.

Average annual salary: £41,150 

Data Engineering: Data engineers develop the infrastructure for processing and using data within an organisation. They are skilled in coding languages, data analytics software, and database design. Their tasks include analysing large datasets to identify trends, developing algorithms for data access and processing, and collaborating with clients and others to deliver effective solutions.

Average annual salary: £57,746

Nuclear Engineering: Nuclear engineers manage the operation, development, and design of nuclear power stations, including equipment and plant designs. They conduct maintenance, ensure safety and security measures, supervise technicians, and oversee nuclear waste disposal. Monitoring radiation levels is crucial for environmental safety. They work in offices, nuclear plants, and laboratories, often undergoing strict security checks due to the sensitive nature of their work.

Average annual salary: £38,516