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Do you want a specialised MS Engineering degree?

Katie Schenk - September 21, 2017

Do you want a specialised MS
Engineering degree?

Engineering is a massive field with so many branches to consider. And, within every single one of the major disciplines, there are plenty of specialised areas that offer plenty of pros and cons.

In some cases, specialised degrees offer increased job prospects, while higher salaries are the norms with other degrees. So, should you be looking at these degrees?

Energy engineering

Though it may develop into a major field on its own, energy engineering is usually still considered a specialised degree. But, the field it belongs to is often quite tricky to nail down. Consider the various areas within energy, and you will quickly realise how many different departments this used to sit under.

  • Biofuels: bio or chemical engineering
  • Clean coal: civil, chemical, or environmental engineering
  • Fuel cells or batteries: chemical or materials engineering
  • Geothermal energy: mechanical, civil, or environmental engineering
  • Hydroelectricity: environmental or mechanical engineering
  • Solar energy: chemical or materials engineering
  • Wind or wave energy: mechanical engineering

Unless you’re completely set on a single area of energy engineering, the cross between departments can make it tricky to tackle subjects as you may need permission from multiple faculties to undertake all the relevant courses.

Of course, there still aren’t that many top programmes focused on alternative energies. You’ll find incredible programmes at:

Despite the relative scarcity of energy engineering programmes, this is one specialised master’s degree that you might want to consider seriously. In January 2017, reports demonstrated that wind turbine technician was the fastest-growing US profession. These jobs have been growing 12 percent faster than the economy as a whole. And, while this particular position is the prize-winner, it’s part of the larger trend towards these energies.

And, while it’s tough to gauge the long-term effects of President Trump’s ecological and energy stances in the United States, it’s still tough to discount the median salaries associated with this field. According to Indeed.com, the average salaries range from $75K-$85K annually, depending on job title. Popular Mechanics agrees, stating that starting salaries within this industry are roughly $50K annually with a bachelor’s degree. With a master’s, that figure jumps to $70K annually. Managers within the field should expect six-digit salaries.

Construction and architectural engineering

You won’t have any trouble finding universities offering MS degrees in civil or structural engineering. It’s one of the major faculties in engineering departments across the US and the world. But, if you’re hoping to centre your career around construction or architecture, it’s worth considering the specialised master’s programmes in one of these areas.

There aren’t that many degree programmes in this area, across the US there may be as many as 20 different schools to choose between, but not all of them offer master’s level education. To begin your search, you may want to consider these universities.

Despite the low number of programmes within these specialised areas, the job forecast for construction and architectural engineers in the United States is solid. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted eight percent job growth within this area between 2014 and 2024 and the salaries associated with these degrees will also put a smile on your face.

Bachelor’s salaries for architectural engineers begin around $51K annually, but the average salary is somewhere around $83K, which takes into account those with master’s degrees. Though the job growth forecast for construction engineers is slightly less at five percent, the mean salary is higher at roughly $97K.

When considering whether a construction or architectural engineering programme is better for you than a general civil engineering masters, it’s worth considering the reduced number of schools offering these programmes.

Typically speaking, the more specialised the degree, the fewer job opportunities there are, but higher salaries fall into place as well. One of the key aspects of your search in these fields should be the companies that participate in on-campus recruiting within the field. Be sure to consider whether these employers hire international grads – not just those with existing work permissions.

Robotics engineering

Robotics engineering falls under a couple of different fields, including mechanical and electrical engineering. Indeed, there’s also a great deal of computer engineering that plays a role. If you’re really geared towards the electrical or mechanical engineering side of robotics, then you can easily pursue one of these generalised degrees. But if it’s robotics or bust – and you want to cover a lot of ground, then you may want to consider pursuing a specialised degree at one of these universities:

The field of mechanical engineering is expected to grow by five percent over the next several years, and given the way technology is developing, robotics opportunities should increase even faster.

And, that’s not all; it’s absolutely worth considering the salaries attached to the field of robotics engineering. The median salary for all mechanical engineers is around $84K annually. But, you can expect something higher with a master’s degree in this specialised field. According to Sokanu.com, current annual salaries look a little more like this:

  • Top end robotics engineer earnings: $150,830
  • Senior robotics engineer earnings: $122,840
  • Experienced robotics engineer earnings: $95,900
  • Junior robotics engineer earnings: $70,960
  • Starting robotics engineer earnings: $52,010

And, Indeed.com places the average robotics engineer salary at $98,397 annually. Of course, it all depends on where you work and the experience you bring to the table before pursuing your masters. But, this is definitely one area where pursuing the specialised degree may just yield a higher ROI with plenty of job prospects. Still, it’s important to consider the job prospects in your home country as well as in the US before looking too closely at these programmes.  

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