Leading U.S. Cities with The Best Opportunities for Engineering Graduates

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If you’re looking to capitalize on the knowledge you acquired while studying as an undergraduate and are keen to open up more potential career paths, consider applying to the University of California Riverside’s online Master of Science in Engineering program. Designed to help you study at a time that works around your busy professional and personal schedule, the UCR MSE program can be completed exclusively online from the comfort of your own home, with graduation possible in as little as 13 months. And with six specializations to choose from, you can be sure that you are getting the best education to help you succeed in a career in your chosen field.

Indeed, career prospects for engineering remain highly favorable. According to an article from Forbes contributor Joshua Wright, between the years 2010 and 2014 the engineering industry continued to boom across the country, with the amount of open positions in this area growing by some 7 percent. Wright noted that concentrations such as biomedical engineering and environmental engineering have witnessed job growth by as much as 10 percent and 12 percent respectively. Furthermore, when it comes to the practice of mechanical engineering, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment will likely grow in the next decade or so by a respectable 5 percent. The source noted that salaries in the mechanical engineering field are particularly lucrative, averaging at around almost $86,000 annually.

The favorable job prospects are no doubt a motivating factor in your decision to return to school. You may be wondering, however, where you will need to go in the country to find the very best opportunities and make the most of your MSE degree. To learn more, review the list below of the leading U.S. cities with the best opportunities for engineering graduates:

1. Kennewick, Washington

According to a widely cited survey from credit score organization Nerd Wallet, of the best places for STEM graduates to live this year, in terms of job prospects, salary and cost of living, the city of Kennewick in Washington state ranks highly. Located in the southern portion of the North-Western state, Kennewick attracts engineering professionals who are drawn to roles at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in neighboring Richland.

Overseen by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is a multi-purpose research center, where professionals from varying parts of the STEM field come together to research solutions for pressing national and international problems, particularly as it pertains to energy use and the environment, the official website explained. UCR graduates with concentrations in environmental, electrical and mechanical engineering will be particularly well-suited to a role at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In terms of cost of living, Nerd Wallet reported that rent is reasonably priced, averaging a little under $900 per month. Salaries are also lucrative in the Kennewick-Richland Metropolitan Area, averaging almost $93,000 per month within the STEM field. It’s not unreasonable to assume, however, that graduates with a Master of Science in Engineering can make significantly more.

2. Seattle, Washington

Washington state’s largest city, Seattle boasts fantastic job prospects for engineering graduates. As Nerd Wallet noted, the area is comparable to the Silicon Valley in terms of the presence of information technology giants – think Microsoft and Amazon. The city is also a fantastic place for mechanical engineers with their sites sights set on a career in aerospace innovation, as is it is home to famed company Boeing, which allowed Seattle to adopt the nickname “Jet City.” According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Boeing is the Seattle Metropolitan Area’s largest employer. The organization currently employs well over 78,000 permanent workers and boasts a yearly revenue of a staggering $96 billion.

The cost of living in Seattle isn’t as reasonable as it is in the Kennewick area. Popular careers website Payscale reported that Seattle ranks above the national average in all metrics used to measure cost of living. For example, the cost of housing is around 57 percent higher, while foods groceries and transportation are 11 and 18 percent higher respectively. The overall cost of living is some 24 percent higher than the U.S. average. Despite the cost of living, however, the salaries for engineering professionals are high, and will no doubt offset the higher cost of living. Nerd Wallet explained that most professionals working in the STEM field can command salaries in excess of $100,000 per anum. Payscale noted that, specifically, mechanical and electrical engineers in the military sector will earn close to $75,000 per annum, on average, with higher salaries common for more experienced and qualified workers.

Leading Engineering Grad Cities

3. Boston, Massachusetts

One of the nation’s oldest and most educated cities, Boston, Massachusetts has long been a hub for technology and innovation, thanks in no small part to the large number of world-renowned institutions of higher education located there – Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston University, to name just a few., and that’s not to mention the world-class hospitals such as Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Consequently, there are ample opportunities for engineering professionals from all disciplines.

Salaries in the city of Boston in the STEM field tend to be lucrative, in accordance with the higher cost of living. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that mechanical engineers, for example, can expect to take home an average salary of almost $90,000 in the Boston-Cambridge-Newton Metropolitan Area.

As detailed, although there are plenty of opportunities, the cost of living can be a stretch for even the most successful professionals. Boston Magazine reported that the current cost of basic needs such as food and health care stand around 26 percent higher than the national average, and when combined with living costs such as rent, electricity and other necessities, the overall average cost of living in the stands at almost 40 percent above the national average.

4. Huntsville, Alabama

The study from Nerd Wallet found that arguably the best place for engineering graduates to look for a job is the city of Huntsville, which is situated in the northern portion of the Southern state of Alabama. This is on account of the fact that a number of major employers of engineers are based in the city. For example, mechanical and electrical engineers will likely find a number of opportunities at organizations such as IBM, cell phone giant AT&T, Boeing and the defense contractor and technology specialist Lockheed Martin.

In addition to the large number of opportunities, the cost of living in Huntsville is comparatively cheap, when compared with locations such as Boston and Seattle. Nerd Wallet detailed that the average salary for STEM graduates in Huntsville, as of 2016, is just over $95,000 per year. When one considers that the cost of living in Huntsville is relatively low – rent averages just over $700 per month, according to the survey – it is clear that Huntsville is a place where engineering graduates could enjoy the highest standard of living.

5. New Orleans, Louisiana

While engineering jobs across an array of specialties are available in New Orleans, according to U.S. News & World Report the city that tops the list of urban locations that offer environmental engineers the highest salaries. Given the rich geography of the area, and the still-ongoing cleanup after Hurricane Katrina, this is unsurprising. The source stated that the average annual salary for an environmental engineer in the Big Easy currently stands at around $111,700 per year, which is more than enough to offset the cost of living, as the finance corporation Go Banking Rates reported that an income of around $61,000 per year is needed to live comfortably in the metropolis.

6. Palm Bay and Melbourne, Florida

This area of Florida is famous for being the home of NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center, earning the region the nickname the “Space Coast.” Consequently, it’s no surprise that the region is rich with job opportunities for engineering graduates, particularly those with backgrounds in mechanical and electrical engineering. The source noted that NASA is by no means the only aerospace employer in this metropolitan areas – Other notable companies that welcome STEM graduates in the region include United Launch Alliance and Lockheed Martin.

Better still, Career Trends reported that the average cost of living in the Melbourne-Titusville area is as much as 3 percent below the national average, although the cost of housing is somewhat higher at 6 percent above the national average. With average STEM salaries approaching $85,000 per year, according to Nerd Wallet, many engineering graduates are able to achieve a high standard of living in this coastal area with an enviable climate.

In summation

A master’s degree in engineering can open up a number of lucrative professional doors, and with many U.S. cities offering promising job markets for STEM graduates, it’s clear that returning to the classroom is worth the investment. For more information on the flexibility offered by the University of California Riverside’s online Master of Engineering program, download a free program brochure.


Recommended Reading

A Guide to 6 Suprising Engineering Degree Jobs

Bioengineering vs. Environmental Engineering: How They Differ

University of California, Riverside Online Engineering Program



Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, A National Lab is a Different Kind of Research Institution 

Payscale, Cost of Living in Seattle, Washington

U.S. News, Environmental Engineer 

Boston Magazine, Boston Is Getting Really Expensive 

Puget Sound Business Journal, Largest Employers in Washington State