2024 Top 10 Easiest Engineering Degrees [With Salary Data]

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If you’re committed to majoring in engineering, then finding the easiest engineering degree might be one of your top priorities.

Top Easiest Engineering Degrees

Which engineering majors are the least complicated and which are the most difficult can vary from person to person, though.

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As you explore the different types of engineering fields, it’s strategic to consider your own strengths, interests, and goals. Doing so may help you hone in on the branches of engineering that will come easiest to you in college and for years to come.

Easiest Engineering Degrees

Here is the list of the easiest engineering degrees (ranked from easiest to hardest) based on highest average GPA, time spent studying, hours of homework required, and average retention rates.

This list was compiled using data from the National Survey of Student Engagement as well as average retention rates and GPAs from Ohio University and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

With those factors in mind, let’s take a look at the following engineering majors, listed from easiest to hardest. It can help to consider your personal strengths and abilities as you explore the various options:

Regardless of the specialty you select, you will still receive a strong foundation in engineering and related courses.

Industrial Engineering

Industrial Engineering degrees

The industrial engineering branch focuses on using engineering principles to develop efficient systems of all sorts. This is quite valuable in the manufacturing world, but it also applies to organizing groups of people or streamlining business operations.

The curriculum for an industrial engineering degree may include courses on materials, automation, quality control, and manufacturing. Chemistry, analytical geometry, calculus, and physics may be among the required STEM courses, and lab sessions may offer the opportunity to work with robotics.

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Industrial engineers frequently work for manufacturing companies. They can be involved in transportation, computer, electronics, or machinery manufacturing.

General Engineering

General Engineering degrees

For a degree that touches on multiple engineering disciplines, you might consider studying general engineering. Students in this branch get an overview of mechanical, civil, electrical, and other engineering disciplines.

As a general engineering student, you will likely take multiple calculus classes. You can also study statics, fluids, thermodynamics, and electrical circuits.

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Graduates from general engineering programs may find employment with small companies. By hiring general engineers, these organizations can save on payroll expenses because they won’t need to employ a separate individual for each branch of the field.

For those general engineers who want to further specialize, earning a masters in engineering online or in the classroom in a specific branch could be beneficial.

Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering degrees

Professionals who apply engineering principles to computer structure and function are computer engineers. This field includes both computer hardware engineers and software engineers.

Computer engineering students study calculus, physics, probability, and linear algebra. There are typically classes on object-oriented programming, operating systems, database architecture, and artificial intelligence. Computer engineering is closely related to electrical engineering, so students also learn about circuits and signals.

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Many computer hardware engineers work in the computer systems design sector. Others may be employed by semiconductor manufacturers, research firms, or the federal government. Software developers often work for computer systems design companies.

Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering degrees

Protecting the natural world is a top concern for environmental engineers. They use their engineering abilities to come up with workable solutions to today’s top environmental issues.

Chemistry is an essential field of study for environmental engineering students. Biology plays a big role as well, and other topics of study include mechanics and thermodynamics. You will also spend time on environmental topics, like sustainability and air quality.

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Environmental engineers monitor natural conditions or plan projects for protecting resources. They often work as consultants, and there are also many government jobs for environmental engineers at the local, state, and federal levels.

Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering degrees

One of the most well-known types of engineers is the civil engineer. Civil engineering professionals are involved in building much of the infrastructure and architecture you see around you every day. That can involve buildings, highways, bridges, and pipelines.

Statics, dynamics, and mechanics are common topics in civil engineering programs. You’ll also take calculus, differential equations, and multiple physics courses. The elective options may cover subjects like geology and construction.

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There are a variety of engineer types within this branch. Examples include construction, transportation, and structural engineers. They may work as consultants for engineering services organizations or hold government jobs.

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering degrees

Mechanical engineers design machines—things with moving components. Because machines, ranging from tiny to enormous, are everywhere in the modern world, mechanical engineers play a vital role in today’s society.

As a mechanical engineering major, you’ll take classes on statics and dynamics, and the math and science curriculum includes several calculus and physics classes.

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To prepare for work in manufacturing or related industries, you can also study materials, robotics, and electrical systems. There may be courses related to energy, such as solar or nuclear power, as well. Many mechanical engineers are employed in the manufacturing sector. Common employers are transportation and machinery manufacturers.

Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering degrees

When engineering ideas are put to use in the healthcare and medical sector, it’s called biomedical engineering. Through biomedical engineering, professionals design and develop solutions for various health concerns.

In a biomedical engineering program, you’ll typically take classes that address engineering topics like mechanics and materials. You can also study many advanced biological processes related to cells, tissues, and the human body.

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Subdisciplines in this field include biomechanics and biomaterials, and you may have the chance to specialize in one of those areas. The medical supplies industry is a common place of employment for biomedical engineers. Research institutions need people with this background as well.

Electrical Engineering

Electrical Engineering degrees

Machines and electronic devices run on electrical power. Electrical engineering professionals understand how that works, and they can design or improve electrical systems.

Topics in an electrical engineering program include circuits, signals, magnetism, and power. You can learn computer programming languages, too. Lab courses provide opportunities to design and construct electrical systems, and there are math and science courses like calculus and physics as well.

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Electrical engineers are needed in many different industries. Manufacturing is a key one. That can include the production of electronic instruments, semiconductors, airplanes, and medical devices. Electrical engineers often work in the energy production sector as well.

Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum Engineering degrees

The oil and gas industries rely heavily on petroleum engineers. Their work plays a key role in energy production to support the daily activities of modern life.

Petroleum engineering students need to know a lot about geology, geomechanics, and drilling. Fluids and thermodynamics are other important topics for this discipline. Probability, geometry, physics, and chemistry are foundational to petroleum engineering studies as well.

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Engineers in this field create plans and processes for extracting natural resources from underneath the ground. They often work for gas and oil companies, petroleum manufacturers, or mining organizations. Some petroleum engineers work overseas.

Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering

Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering degrees

Engineering for aerospace and aeronautical applications involves designing craft for flight. The term “aeronautics” is used for flight within the atmosphere of the earth, and the term “astronautics” can be used for flight in space. Aerospace includes both disciplines.

For these programs, you’ll take classes related to analytical geometry and differential calculus. When studying topics like mechanics and materials, you’ll consider how flight conditions will alter performance. Other important concepts for these engineers include propulsion, electrical circuits, and aerodynamics.

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The government hires many aerospace engineers. Aircraft and instrumentation manufacturing are other lines of work for people with aerospace engineering degrees.

Curriculum Requirements for Engineering Degrees

Curriculum Requirements for Engineering Degrees

Engineering schools can receive programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). To qualify, the curriculum for their engineering programs must align with the accreditor’s standards.

In general, accredited engineering programs must include 30 credit hours of math and science classes. ABET also requires 45 credit hours of engineering courses that directly apply to the degree’s specific area of focus. All programs must include a major engineering project to wrap up students’ studies before graduation.

ABET also specifies learning objectives for various disciplines. Some branches of engineering have quite strict learning requirements. In other branches, ABET gives schools a bit more freedom. Overall, what this boils down to is that a challenging engineering major is likely to have a similar level of difficulty at any accredited school.

If math and science aren’t your strong points, you won’t be able to find a school that requires fewer of those courses for engineering majors. Every accredited engineering program will heavily emphasize those disciplines.

This principle applies to individual branches, too. All petroleum engineering students have to study thermodynamics. For studies in civil engineering, there’s no way to get out of calculus-based physics classes. Reviewing ABET’s program requirements may help you identify the engineering branch that best aligns with your strengths.

Engineering Careers & Salaries

Engineering Careers & Salaries

Engineers work in many different industries. Manufacturing companies hire many engineers. For example, aerospace engineers may work for airplane manufacturers. Electronics engineers can be involved in semiconductor manufacturing, and materials engineers can play a role in transportation or computer manufacturing.

Government agencies employ many engineers as well. Computer hardware and civil engineers are particularly likely to hold government positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in engineering and architecture pay a median annual salary of $83,160.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Petroleum Engineers $137,330
Computer Hardware Engineers $119,560
Aerospace Engineers $118,610
Electrical and Electronics Engineers $103,390
Materials Engineers $95,640
Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers $92,620
Environmental Engineers $92,120
Mechanical Engineers $90,160
Industrial Engineers $88,950
Civil Engineers $88,570

Engineers, such as biomedical and chemical engineers, can also work for research and development firms. In laboratories, they carry out experiments and investigate new ideas. Some engineers work in the construction business. Civil engineers are a good example for this industry.

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In addition, many engineers in various branches work for engineering services companies. They may serve as consultants on projects, such as the development of new products. Additional branches of this field include agricultural, health and safety, geological and mining, and nuclear engineering.

Should I Major in Engineering?

Major in Engineering

The engineering field offers a wide variety of job possibilities. This industry boasts high salaries, too. As a result, you may be drawn to a career in the engineering sector.

Despite the perks of engineering, this field isn’t for everyone. Before committing to an engineering program, you might want to consider whether the following characteristics describe you:

  • Major brainpower. Engineers spend their days thinking about problems and searching for solutions to them. Being successful in this field requires knowing how to think critically and creatively.
  • School commitment. Engineering programs are notoriously challenging. This line of study isn’t for the faint of heart. If you want to graduate with an engineering degree, it’s necessary to buckle down and commit to serious studying for the next few years.
  • STEM skills. The curriculum for an engineering program will include many advanced math and science courses. You may need to take multiple classes related to physics, chemistry, calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and more.

If you have additional questions about whether you’d be a good fit for engineering studies, it can help to talk to an admissions advisor, a current engineering student, or a professional engineer.

What Engineering Major Should I Choose?

Engineering Major

Engineering is a vast field, so you’ll often need to select a particular branch of engineering as your specialty. To help you decide, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I good at? Deciding which major to pursue should begin with considering your strengths. Different engineering branches emphasize different skills. Chemical engineering could be right for someone with a chemistry-minded brain, and mechanical engineering may be a good fit for someone who’s a creative thinker.
  • What do I want to do with my life? The engineering discipline you choose may turn into a lifelong commitment. It’s beneficial to select a major that you can see yourself enjoying for years to come. For example, if you’ve always been interested in buildings and construction, then civil engineering could be a good plan.
  • What salary can I expect? Aerospace, petroleum, computer hardware, and nuclear engineering are some of the top-paying engineering branches. If a high salary is important to you, you can take a look at income data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When considering pay opportunities, though, it’s important to factor in the cost of earning your degree.
  • What sort of work-life balance would I like? Full-time work is common for engineers, but not every branch boasts reliable office hours. Agricultural engineers may work longer days in some seasons than others. Petroleum engineers may travel frequently. Aerospace engineers may put in overtime to meet tight deadlines.

Weighing the pros and cons of different branches may help you determine your top pick.

What Kind of Engineer Makes the Most Money?

engineering salaries

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, petroleum engineers typically bring in the highest engineering salaries. Most earn between $78,620 and $208,000 annually.

Computer hardware engineers tend to make the second highest earnings. Annual salaries in this discipline often fall between $70,100 and $192,110.

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With typical salaries between $72,770 and $171,220, aerospace engineers also have higher than average incomes. Aerospace engineers who work for instrument manufacturers make a median income of $125,710.

Nuclear engineers tend to have salaries between $74,800 and $185,550. Research and development is a particularly lucrative industry for nuclear engineers, paying a median of $139,580 per year (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

What Is the Hardest Engineering Major?

Hardest Engineering Major

Different students have different opinions on the hardest engineering major. Your strengths and skills will influence how challenging you find a particular program.

Some students find electrical engineering quite difficult because of the abstract thinking that’s involved. Similarly, one of the main challenges of aerospace engineering is that students have to apply their knowledge to design craft for an environment that’s entirely foreign to them.

Complicated math and science concepts are another reason that students find engineering programs difficult. Chemical engineering is a prime example of a discipline that uses complex math and science. Computer engineering also relies heavily on mathematical ideas.

Getting Your Degree in Engineering Online

Degree in Engineering Online

The engineering field contains many different branches. Advanced math and science classes are integral to each one of them. Even still, different programs do have different requirements, so you may find some engineering disciplines to be less rigorous than others.

Convenient and flexible online engineering bachelors degrees are available for many engineering programs. Plus, a number of universities also offer online computer engineering masters programs.

Accreditation, both regional and programmatic, is available for online programs, so you can count on earning a degree that meets industry standards.

You can start exploring programs today to see the difference that accredited online engineering studies could make for you.

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Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.