What Ways Can You Specialize an Engineering Degree?

Those who desire challenging careers with greater than average job stability often seek to be trained as engineers, and they find that the ways you can specialize an engineering degree are plentiful. According to research conducted by the Department of Labor, there is a shortage of many types of engineers in the national labor pool. These apparent shortages have even prompted many large corporations to request changes to the laws regarding hiring overseas talent. High school students can identify prospective engineering concentration areas of study by finding out which engineering specialties have the highest expected growth rates and which of them focus on areas that interest them the most. Here are some examples of popular engineering degree specialties that help to prepare graduates for interesting work and great pay later in their careers.

Mechanical Engineering with a Concentration in Advanced Energy Technologies

Mechanical systems have become irreplaceable parts of modern societies. Nearly all industries like manufacturing, construction and defense rely heavily on mechanical devices and the people who build and maintain them. However, modern mechanical engineers have begun to consider the environmental impacts of their work, and many seek employment in the alternative energy sector in order to help companies to deploy safer, clean energy systems. The results of their work can be seen in the energy systems that are used to collect, store and deploy solar, wind and geothermal power. Undergraduate mechanical engineering students can customize their degree programs by selecting a minor in environmental science or taking energy related elective courses. Students who enroll in graduate level mechanical engineering programs can opt for formal concentrations in areas like energy technologies.

Aerospace Engineering

Transcontinental airplane trips have become more prevalent, because of globalization. Also, governments and large companies are racing to develop technologies that will allow humans to mine the vast mineral wealth that is suspected to be hidden beneath the surfaces of celestial bodies like Mars. Engineers who major in aerospace engineering update aircraft architecture and designs to maintain safe and continued flights in the domestic and international markets. These engineers are also called upon to develop new space craft systems that can affordably put satellites into orbit or improve manned space flight operations.

Petroleum Engineering

While interest in alternative energy systems is beginning to grow, many of the world’s mechanical systems continue to run with the help of oil based energy products. Petroleum reserves can be found around the globe, and companies that can extract oil safely, efficiently and cost effectively often realize the greatest gains in the global oil market. Those companies rely heavily on the efforts of engineers who have specialized training in petroleum extraction and production. Engineering students who specialize in petroleum engineering can expect to take courses in geology, chemistry, statistics and fluid mechanics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, petroleum engineers enjoyed some of the highest pay of all engineering specialties. They earned median annual salaries of $130,050 in 2014, and job growth projections for the career field were noted to be faster than the average for all jobs surveyed.

Related Resource: 30 Great Colleges for INTP Personality Types


Engineering is such a broad discipline that most degree programs require that students choose distinct specializations. An exception to this is the Master of Science in Engineering Management degree that is popular with trained engineers who want to move into senior leadership roles within their organizations. However, identifying ways you can specialize an engineering degree is a critical step for any college bound student who may need additional academic preparation to be successful in a university level technical degree program.