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What Are Some Common PhD Level Engineering Jobs?

While you can enter most fields of engineering with just a bachelor's degree, others require graduate studies. Keep reading to learn how a doctoral degree can help you advance in your engineering career.

Ph.D. Engineering Job Overview

Engineering is a unique field when it comes to employment. It's one of the few highly technical career fields where you can enter at the bachelor's degree level and learn through on-the-job training. On the other hand, when it comes to research in almost any branch of engineering, many employers look for candidates with doctorates.

Basic research commonly takes place in academia, while applied research positions in engineering can be found in specific fields, such as aerospace, civil and mechanical engineering. Here are a few occupations in engineering that require a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree:

Important Facts About Common Ph.D. Level Engineering Jobs

College Professor Research Engineer Design Engineer
Median Salary (June 2019)* $86,456 $81,217 $66,639
Key Skills Patience; problem solving; critical thinking; ingenuity Analytical and critical thinking; problem solving; organization; leadership Innovation; leadership; computer competency; problem solving
Work Environment Colleges, universities, professional schools; junior colleges; technical and trade schools Industrial and manufacturing plants Research and development companies; construction firms; product manufacturing plants
Similar Occupations Assistant professors; director of operations; operations managers Aerospace engineers; electrical engineers; process engineers Applications engineers; project engineers; structural engineers

Source: *PayScale.com

College Professor

The most common jobs for Ph.D. engineers are found in academia. Becoming a college professor is a way to share your knowledge with aspiring engineers and continue your research at the same time. Some technical and community colleges will allow you to teach engineering with a master's degree, but 4-year colleges and graduate schools require doctorates. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), post secondary teacher employment is expected to increase by 15% between 2016 and 2026.

Research Engineer

If you become a research engineer, you'll create a set of parameters for research projects and communicate the results of your research to others. You'll need a Ph.D. in a specific engineering discipline, the ability to apply advanced research methods and good communication skills. The BLS reported that there were 101,120 individuals employed in the field of research and development for all occupations related to architecture and engineering in 2018.

Design Engineer

Design engineers, also known as development engineers, create solutions for problems and new technologies. As a design engineer, you'll be in a position to turn your own ideas into reality or use information gathered from research teams to re-invent an existing product or structure. You'll run tests on your own work to ensure your design performs to specification. You could work in many different industries developing products like generators, robotic controls, integrated circuits and more.

Software Engineer

As a software engineer or developer, you'll most likely work on designing application software or operating systems. You can work on a variety of projects, including building computer games, phone applications and network security software. You can gain an edge in the job market by supplementing your software engineering studies with courses related to the industry in which you want to work. The BLS predicted that the demand for software developers would increase by 24% between 2016 and 2026.