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Who makes more money, Mechanical Engineers or Civil Engineers?

I'm a Lafayette student of the class of 2018. I'm majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Civil Engineering.

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Brad’s Answer

I agree with Ryan's answer and have one more element to add.


I truly believe that whoever likes their job more will make more money - regardless of mechanical or civil engineering. If you like your job, you will be willing to put in the extra effort that gets recognized through promotions, bonuses, or other compensations. Your employer and coworker will value you more and ultimately will give you better long term compensation.


Rather than using income as a decision criteria, I highly advise looking more into what they actually do (many times that is the same since the disciplines you mention have a lot of overlap). Pick the job that interests you the most rather than making the most money. I'm confident that you will be on the road to success.

Thank you comment icon Good Question. And even better answers. Heh. Troll
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Alfie
Thank you comment icon Thank You ! ! Lakenzwa
Thank you comment icon This is good advice. Neil Murtagh
Thank you comment icon thank you! Wesley
Thank you comment icon thank you so much for kind informetion Sharmila
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Ryan’s Answer

Hi Lakenzwa,


This is a good question, but it's not easy to answer. In general, mechanical engineers seem to earn more according to major (http://gecd.mit.edu/sites/default/files/files/2013_GSS_Survey.pdf), but there are are a variety of factors that influence your salary, some of which will depend on the major, and others on your personal situation.


For example, different schools tend to have different average starting salaries upon graduation. So looking at the numbers coming from one school might show one major earning more than the other. However, another school might show the reverse. Generally, schools with higher rankings can command a higher salary, so a civil engineer from a top school might make more money than a mechanical engineer from another, even though the averages say otherwise.


This still isn't the full picture, however. Depending on what industry you enter, you could earn more as a starting civil engineer than a starting mechanical engineer. The same goes for the company you choose to join.


Both majors can command a higher than average salary, and what you choose to do with your major will greatly influence your particular salary, much more so than picking one or the other based on the average earnings.


Hope this helps.

Thank you comment icon Thank you! Alfie
Thank you comment icon Thank You ! ! Lakenzwa
Thank you comment icon even i had the same doubt but reading the answer i have decided to pursue civil...i was quite disappointed when i came to know about salary and job prospects between CE and ME...however everything written on internet as per surveys can be proved wrong if at once we decide to work hard for our future..!! Shubham
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Mackenzie
Thank you comment icon thank you! Wesley
Thank you comment icon thank you so much Sharmila
Thank you comment icon Hi Ryan! Thank you so much for the amazing answer you provided to Lakenzwa above! I had a few follow up questions I wanted to ask out of my own curiosity: 1. Could you talk a little bit more about your own personal experience/background in engineering? I'd love to hear more about your own path into the industry. 2. What are some next steps someone should take to decide which career (ME vs. CE) is right for them? Any tips or advice you could provide would be awesome to hear. Thank you so much in advance. Cheers, David David Ohta COACH
Thank you comment icon Hi David, I studied engineering at MIT and planned on a Chemical Engineering major, but switched to Mechanical Engineering instead. I struggled with those classes, so after speaking with an advisor, I switched to a Materials Science and Engineering program, and continued on to receive my bachelors and masters. I worked in engineering for a few years, before moving over to the business side of technology as a strategy consultant. For someone considering any career path, it may take a few tries, but a lot of professionals are happy to spend 30 min talking about their experience and listening to a student's thoughts. Using other resources, such a CareerVillage is important, but a short conversation can do wonders to hear about what the actual day is like for a career professional. Ryan Bonaparte
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Neil’s Answer

I was a chemical engineer before I switched industries. (As an aside, I still use engineering principles in my banking work which is relevant to my answer.). Don't agonise over modest differences in average starting or career salaries you see you quoted. Focus on which discipline you are more interested in. If you enjoy it, you will excel at it. If you want to earn higher salaries, then you can find opportunities to broaden your career as you progress. I remember someone saying to me early in my career that will be an engineer for a relatively short time - then I will become the engineers boss!

Thank you comment icon thank you! Wesley
Thank you comment icon thank you very much Sharmila
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