Engineering Professor Career Guide 2024

Table of Contents

Engineering Professor Salary in United States for 2023

Average Annual Salary: $103,550 

Data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor via the ONET Web API. Updated at December 8, 2023

Best Colleges and Universities for Engineering Professors in 2023

Projected Job Employment for Engineering Professor:

Estimated YearProjected YearEstimated EmploymentProjected Employment% ChangeProjected Annual Job Opening

Engineering Professor Career Path Overview

The path to becoming an Engineering Professor is often marked by intensive education, practical experience, and a devotion to both personal and professional development. While the journey can be challenging, it can also be rewarding for those passionate about engineering, teaching, and research.

Education Requirements

To pursue a career as an Engineering Professor, one usually begins with an undergraduate degree in a relevant engineering field such as Mechanical, Civil, Electrical, Computer or Chemical Engineering. After earning a Bachelor's degree, prospective professors typically proceed to a Master's degree program where they further specialize in their chosen area of engineering. However, the educational journey doesn't stop there. The majority of universities require their professors to hold a Ph.D. in their respective fields. This degree not only involves advanced coursework but also requires candidates to produce original research, often culminating in a doctoral dissertation.

Practical Experience

Practical experience is vital in the career path of an Engineering Professor. Many universities look for candidates who have hands-on experience in their field. This could be gained through internships, co-op programs, or even working as an engineer in the industry. Such experiences provide valuable insights and real-world perspectives that can be shared with students in the classroom.

Certifications and Licensure

While not always required, obtaining licensure as a Professional Engineer (PE) can enhance an Engineering Professor's credibility and career prospects. The PE license is granted after passing two rigorous exams and gaining a certain amount of practical experience. Some professors also opt for certifications in specific areas of engineering or education to demonstrate their expertise and commitment to continuous learning.

Skills and Qualities

An Engineering Professor needs more than just technical knowledge. Strong communication skills are crucial for effectively conveying complex concepts to students. They also need to be adept at critical thinking and problem-solving, as they often conduct research to advance their field. Patience, dedication, and a passion for teaching are also important qualities for this role.

Career Opportunities and Advancement

Career advancement for an Engineering Professor often involves progressing from assistant professor to associate professor, and eventually, to full professor. This is usually contingent on factors like research output, teaching effectiveness, and service to the academic community. Many professors also branch out into administrative roles, such as department head or dean. Outside academia, Engineering Professors can leverage their expertise in consulting roles, or they might choose to start their own engineering companies. In conclusion, the career path of an Engineering Professor is a challenging yet rewarding one, offering opportunities for continuous learning, impactful teaching, and influential research.

Engineering Professor Career Path Education and Training

To embark on the career path of an Engineering Professor, it is crucial to acquire the right educational qualifications and experience. This journey is rigorous and demands commitment, but it can be incredibly rewarding for those who are passionate about engineering and education.

Undergraduate Degree

The first step on this career path involves obtaining a Bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline. This could be Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, or any other related field. The choice of specialization at this stage will often determine the specific area of teaching and research later in the career. The undergraduate program provides a solid foundation in engineering principles, mathematics, physical sciences, and project management.

Master’s Degree

While not always a requirement, pursuing a Master's degree in Engineering can be beneficial. It allows for deeper exploration into a chosen specialization and can open doors to more advanced research opportunities. A Master’s degree typically takes 1-2 years to complete and often includes a combination of coursework and research.

Doctoral Degree

A Doctoral degree (Ph.D.) is generally required to become an Engineering Professor. Ph.D. programs in engineering are research-intensive and typically take 4-6 years to complete. As part of this program, candidates are expected to conduct original research in their chosen field, resulting in a dissertation that contributes new knowledge to the engineering discipline.

Postdoctoral Research

After earning a Ph.D., many aspiring Engineering Professors take on postdoctoral research positions. These positions offer the opportunity to focus on research without the additional teaching responsibilities that come with a faculty position. Postdoctoral experience can make candidates more competitive when applying for tenure-track professor positions.

Teaching Experience

Teaching experience is another critical component of the career path of an Engineering Professor. This can be gained through teaching assistantships during graduate school, adjunct faculty positions, or even through the delivery of professional workshops and seminars. Teaching experience not only enhances pedagogical skills but also demonstrates a commitment to education, which is crucial for a successful academic career.

Professional Engineering License

In some cases, having a Professional Engineering (PE) license can enhance an Engineering Professor's career. This certification, which requires passing two rigorous exams and gaining engineering work experience, demonstrates a high level of expertise and adherence to ethical standards. It can also offer more opportunities for collaboration with industry, adding another dimension to teaching and research. Pursuing a career as an Engineering Professor is a journey of lifelong learning and discovery. It requires dedication to both engineering and education, and a strong commitment to contributing to the advancement of the field.

Engineering Professor Career Path Progression

The career path progression of an engineering professor is a rich and rewarding journey that involves a combination of academic excellence, research expertise, and teaching prowess. This path requires a deep understanding of various engineering principles and concepts, as well as a passion for sharing this knowledge with the next generation of engineers. If you're keen on pursuing this career, it's essential to understand each step of the journey.

Educational Requirements

To become an engineering professor, you'll need to start with obtaining a Bachelor's degree in Engineering. This degree can be in any engineering discipline such as civil, mechanical, electrical, or chemical engineering. Following this, pursuing a Master's degree in your chosen field of engineering is highly recommended. This advanced degree enables you to delve deeper into your specialty, preparing you for the rigorous research involved in a Ph.D. program.

The final academic step is achieving a Ph.D. in Engineering. A Ph.D. program focuses on original research and contributing new knowledge to the field of engineering. This degree is a must for those aspiring to teach at university level as it demonstrates a high level of expertise in the chosen field.

Research Experience

Research is an integral part of an engineering professor’s career. During your Ph.D., you will be expected to conduct extensive research under the guidance of a supervisor, culminating in a dissertation that adds new knowledge to your field. Post-doctoral research experience is also highly valued as it demonstrates your ability to lead independent research projects. It's common for engineering professors to continue conducting research alongside their teaching duties, often leading teams of graduate students on innovative projects.

Teaching Experience

While research is crucial, teaching is at the heart of an engineering professor’s role. Gaining teaching experience can start as early as your Master's degree, where you may have opportunities to assist in undergraduate classes or labs. During your Ph.D., you may also have the chance to teach classes, deliver lectures, or supervise undergraduate projects. This hands-on experience is invaluable for developing your teaching style and understanding how to communicate complex engineering concepts effectively.

Professional Development and Progression

Once you secure a position as an engineering professor, ongoing professional development is key for career progression. This includes staying up-to-date with advancements in your field, attending and presenting at academic conferences, publishing research findings in reputable journals, and seeking grant funding for research projects. Over time, you may progress to senior roles such as department head or dean of engineering. Additionally, some professors choose to consult for engineering companies or government bodies, leveraging their expertise to solve real-world engineering problems.

The career path of an engineering professor is not straightforward and requires dedication and commitment. However, the rewards of molding future engineers, contributing to the body of knowledge in your field, and making a difference in the world through teaching and research make this career path highly fulfilling.

Engineering Professor Career Path Specializations and Subfields

In the vast field of engineering, there are several specializations and subfields that a prospective Engineering Professor can choose to focus on. Each of these unique disciplines provides its own set of opportunities and challenges, offering a diverse range of career paths for those who aspire to share their knowledge and expertise as educators in higher learning institutions.

Mechanical Engineering

One of the broadest engineering disciplines, Mechanical Engineering focuses on the design, construction, and use of machines. As a Mechanical Engineering Professor, you will have the opportunity to teach and conduct research in areas such as robotics, automotive engineering, heating and cooling systems, and more. This specialization requires a deep understanding of physics, mathematics, and material science.

Civil Engineering

Civil Engineering is one of the oldest engineering disciplines, encompassing the design, construction, and maintenance of public works such as roads, bridges, dams, and buildings. As a Civil Engineering Professor, you would teach students about structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, environmental engineering, and transportation engineering. This specialization demands knowledge in areas such as physics, geology, and environmental science.

Electrical Engineering

Electrical Engineering involves the study of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. As an Electrical Engineering Professor, you would guide students through areas like circuit design, digital systems, telecommunications, power systems, and control systems. A solid foundation in physics and mathematics is necessary for this specialization.

Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering combines principles of chemistry, physics, mathematics, biology, and economics to efficiently use, produce, design, transport and transform energy and materials. As a Chemical Engineering Professor, you might teach courses on process engineering, molecular engineering, materials science, or biochemical engineering.

Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering bridges the gap between electrical engineering and computer science. Professors in this field teach students about hardware-software integration, algorithm development, data structures, network design, and more. This specialization offers a unique blend of theory and practical work, with a significant focus on problem-solving skills.

Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace Engineering involves the design of aircraft and spacecraft. As an Aerospace Engineering Professor, you could teach courses on aerodynamics, control engineering, propulsion, and materials science. This field requires a strong foundation in physics and mathematics, as well as an understanding of fluid dynamics and material stress.

Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering is a multidisciplinary field that applies engineering principles to healthcare and biology. As a Biomedical Engineering Professor, you might teach and conduct research in areas such as medical imaging, bioinstrumentation, biomechanics, or biomaterials. This specialization requires knowledge in biology and medicine, in addition to engineering principles. Each of these specializations offers a unique set of opportunities for aspiring Engineering Professors. By focusing on a specific subfield, you can develop deep expertise that will allow you to make significant contributions to your field, both in terms of teaching and research.

Engineering Professor Career Path Job Market and Outlook

The job market and outlook for an Engineering Professor career path are promising, with ample opportunities for growth and advancement. This career is in high demand due to the increasing need for engineers in various sectors. This section will explore the current job market, future predictions, and potential advancements in this profession.

Current Job Market

As of now, the job market for Engineering Professors is robust. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), postsecondary teachers, including Engineering Professors, have a projected job growth rate of 9% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. The growing number of engineering students seeking higher education and the ongoing need for skilled engineers in various industries are key factors driving this growth. Engineering Professors are needed in a variety of academic settings, from small community colleges to large research universities. Furthermore, as technology continues to evolve rapidly, there is a growing demand for professors who can educate students on the latest engineering trends and advancements.

Future Job Market Predictions

The future job market for Engineering Professors appears bright. With the ever-increasing reliance on technology and innovation in our society, the need for highly educated engineers is expected to continue rising. This trend implies a strong demand for qualified Engineering Professors who can provide quality education and conduct cutting-edge research. The BLS predicts that employment opportunities for postsecondary teachers will continue to grow over the next decade. As a result, aspiring Engineering Professors should have numerous opportunities to find employment and advance their careers.

Potential Career Advancements

The Engineering Professor career path offers significant potential for advancement. After gaining experience and demonstrating expertise in their field, professors may move into administrative roles such as department chair or dean of engineering. These positions involve managing faculty, setting departmental goals, and making decisions about budget and curriculum. Additionally, Engineering Professors may also have opportunities to lead research teams, apply for grants, and contribute to the development of new technologies or theories in their field. This not only enhances their professional reputation but also makes a significant impact on the broader engineering industry. In conclusion, the job market and outlook for the Engineering Professor career path are favorable. With a growing demand for skilled engineers and high-quality engineering education, those interested in this career path can look forward to a multitude of opportunities and potential for advancement.

Engineering Professor Career Path Salary and Compensation

The salary and compensation for an engineering professor can vary significantly based on factors such as the professor's level of education, experience, area of expertise, and the location and type of institution in which they work.

Education Level

Typically, an engineering professor would have a Doctoral degree in their respective field of engineering. Professors with higher levels of education often have higher salaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, postsecondary teachers with a doctoral degree earned a median annual wage of $79,540 in May 2020.


Experience plays a significant role in determining an engineering professor's salary. As professors gain more experience and develop their reputation in their field, they tend to earn higher salaries. For example, a professor who has been teaching for over ten years can earn significantly more than someone who has just started their career.

Area of Expertise

The area of expertise can also greatly impact an engineering professor's salary. Certain specialized fields of engineering, like petroleum or computer engineering, may command higher salaries due to high demand and relatively lower supply of experts in these areas.

Institution Type and Location

The type and location of the institution also impact the salary of an engineering professor. Professors at private universities usually earn more than those at public institutions. Furthermore, salaries can be higher in urban areas where the cost of living is higher. Additionally, compensation for engineering professors is not limited to salary alone. They may also receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, paid leave, and professional development opportunities. Some may also have the opportunity to earn additional income through consulting work, research grants, or writing textbooks. However, it's important to note that being an engineering professor is not just about earning a high salary. Many professors find great satisfaction in teaching the next generation of engineers, conducting meaningful research, and contributing to their field of expertise. For many, these non-monetary rewards are just as valuable, if not more so, than their monetary compensation. Remember, while salary and compensation are important factors to consider when choosing a career path, they should not be the only factors. Passion for the subject matter, job satisfaction, and work-life balance are also crucial elements to consider.

Engineering Professor Career Path Tips for Success

Embarking on a career as an Engineering Professor requires dedication, preparation, and a clear understanding of the steps necessary to achieve success. Here are some invaluable tips for those aspiring to make their mark in this esteemed profession.

Obtain the Necessary Qualifications

Earning a bachelor's degree in engineering is the first significant step towards becoming an Engineering Professor. This provides a solid foundation in the fundamentals of engineering. Next, it is recommended to pursue a master's degree in a specialized field of engineering. To teach at the university level, obtaining a doctoral degree (PhD) in engineering is typically required. This phase involves intensive research and scholarly writing, which prepares you for your role as an educator and researcher.

Gain Relevant Experience

Aside from obtaining academic qualifications, gaining practical engineering experience is crucial. Consider internships, cooperative education programs, or entry-level engineering positions to gain hands-on experience. This will not only enhance your understanding of the field but also make your lectures more relevant and practical for students.

Develop Teaching Skills

While subject matter expertise is critical, being an effective teacher requires more than just knowledge. Consider taking courses in pedagogy, curriculum development, or classroom management. Additionally, seek opportunities to teach or assist in teaching during your postgraduate studies. This will help you develop your teaching style and gain confidence in the classroom.

Get Published

Publishing research papers in reputable academic journals is a significant part of an Engineering Professor's career. It adds credibility to your expertise and enhances your profile within the academic community. Strive to carry out high-quality research and collaborate with other experts in your field to get your work published.

Network and Collaborate

Networking plays a crucial role in academia. Attend conferences, seminars, and workshops related to your field of interest. These events provide excellent opportunities for you to meet industry leaders, potential collaborators, and future employers. Additionally, consider joining professional organizations related to engineering education, such as the American Society for Engineering Education.

Stay Current with Industry Trends

The field of engineering is dynamic and continually evolving. As an Engineering Professor, you'll need to stay current with the latest trends, research, and technological advancements. Subscribing to industry journals, attending seminars and webinars, and participating in professional development courses can help you stay up-to-date. With the right mix of qualifications, experience, and dedication, you can carve out a successful career path as an Engineering Professor. Remember that ongoing learning and networking are integral parts of this journey.

What Does an Engineering Professor Do?

An Engineering Professor is an educator and researcher in the field of engineering. They teach undergraduate and graduate level courses, supervise student research, and conduct their own studies in various engineering disciplines. This could be anything from civil and mechanical engineering to software and biomedical engineering. Engineering Professors also contribute to the academic community by publishing their research findings in scholarly journals, presenting at industry conferences, and participating in professional organizations. In addition, they often serve on university committees and participate in departmental planning and curriculum development.

What Skills Do You Need to Become an Engineering Professor?

To become an Engineering Professor, one must possess a strong foundational knowledge of their particular field of engineering, as well as advanced skills in research, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Communication skills are crucial, as professors must be able to present complex information in a clear and engaging manner. They should also have good interpersonal skills to establish effective relationships with students, staff, and fellow academics. Other necessary skills include time management, organization, and the ability to work independently. Since Engineering Professors often juggle teaching, research, and administrative duties, being able to prioritize tasks effectively is essential.

What Are the Educational Requirements for Becoming an Engineering Professor?

The path to becoming an Engineering Professor typically begins with obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline. Following this, prospective professors will need to complete a Master’s degree in the same or related field. However, the most significant educational requirement is a Ph.D. in an engineering discipline. This advanced degree involves several years of study beyond the Master's level and includes extensive research leading to a doctoral dissertation.

What is the Average Salary for an Engineering Professor?

The salary for an Engineering Professor can vary significantly depending on factors like location, years of experience, the institution they work for, and their area of expertise. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for postsecondary teachers, including Engineering Professors, was $80,790 as of May 2020.

What is the Job Outlook for Engineering Professors?

The job outlook for Engineering Professors is generally positive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of postsecondary teachers is projected to grow 9 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. This growth is driven by increased student enrollment in colleges and universities.

What are the Career Advancement Opportunities for Engineering Professors?

Engineering Professors have several opportunities for career advancement. They can progress through academic ranks, starting as an Assistant Professor, then moving up to Associate Professor and finally to Full Professor. In addition, they can take on administrative roles within their department or university, such as Department Chair or Dean. Some may also choose to expand their research work, leading to increased recognition within their field and opportunities to collaborate with other institutions or companies.

What is the Work Environment Like for Engineering Professors?

Engineering Professors typically work in a university setting. This includes classrooms, laboratories, and offices. They often have flexible schedules but also spend considerable time preparing for classes, grading assignments, advising students, conducting research, and writing papers for publication. The work can be intellectually demanding and occasionally stressful, particularly during times of research deadlines or student exams. However, many find the opportunity to shape the next generation of engineers and contribute to advancements in their field to be highly rewarding.