three students working on engineering project

5 Engineering Professions for Gifted Math Students

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With a projected 13% annual job growth for STEM professions, it’s easy to see why parents push their gifted students towards these university majors.

Math is the foundation of everything…including STEM professions.

To start off, STEM encompasses many disciplines and there is no one sure way to identify traits that will determine if a student is a “good fit.” However, there is one undeniable truth. Math is the foundation of everything…including STEM professions.

What is engineering?

People in STEM fields not only need to be inquisitive but also need to have a strong foundation in analytical problem-solving. Being a STEM professional means finding innovative ways to solve complex real-world problems inclusive of math.

Engineering hand sketching blueprint

Many people have heard of engineering and many probably instantly think of building structures. According to our friends at What is Engineering?, engineering is “the application of scientific knowledge to solving problems in the real world.” Engineers use the discoveries of scientists (e.g. chemists, biologists, etc) and apply them to everyday life through problem solving and application.

One of the fun aspects of pursuing a career in Engineering is solving challenges and creating solutions by bringing life to abstract ideas.

Skills of an engineer

Engineer standing inside machine
Aerospace Engineer

As one of the hottest professions today, the demands of being an engineer are quite high. In addition to having at least a bachelor’s degree, and possibly a master’s degree, engineers need to demonstrate both technical and soft skills.

Technical Skills

Hard skills, or technical skills, are the abilities and knowledge needed to complete specific tasks. Technical skills vary between each engineering discipline, but any aspiring engineering should focus on building a working knowledge in:

  • Higher mathematics
  • Computer science fundamentals
  • Data modeling
  • Probability and statistics
  • System design

Soft Skills

Along with hard skills, soft skills are personality attributes needed to be successful in the work environment and complement hard skills.

Some soft skills engineers use in their professional life are:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Leadership and management
  • Communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Teamwork
  • Strong desire to learn
Students in class with laptops

Top 5 engineering disciplines

There are several disciplines, or branches, within engineering, with the core being Civil, Chemical, Mechanical, and Electrical.

Here are the top 5 engineering degrees that not only have high earnings but are also in high demand:

Petroleum Engineering

  • Median Annual Salary: $147,520
  • Projected job growth: 25.5%

Energy is a key component in our everyday lives. A secure energy future requires a balance between environmental impact and affordable supply. Petroleum and geosystems engineers are able to address and solve important issues that will lead to energy security and thus are in high demand.

Stanford University – Master of Science in Petroleum Engineering

University of Southern California – Master of Science, Petroleum Engineering  

Computer Engineering

  • Median Annual Salary: $110,650
  • Projected job growth: 7.4%

Computer engineering is the branch of engineering that integrates electronic engineering with computer sciences. Computer engineers design and develop computer systems and other technological devices.

Carnegie Mellon – Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology – EECS

circuit board

Aerospace Engineering

  • Median Annual Salary: $107,700
  • Projected job growth: 7.3%

Aerospace engineering is the primary branch of engineering concerned with the research, design, development, construction, testing, science and technology of aircraft and spacecraft.  It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. The former deals with aircraft that operate in Earth’s atmosphere, and the latter with spacecraft that operate outside of it.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology – AeroAstro program

Georgia Institute of Technology – Bachelor of Science, Aerospace Engineering

Nuclear Engineering

  • Median Annual Salary: $104,630
  • Projected job growth: 9.3%

Nuclear engineers apply knowledge of atomic nuclei to design, build, and operate special equipment that is useful to humanity. These applications fall into several broad categories, including fission power, radiation detection, nuclear medicine, nuclear materials, and plasma science.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor –  Bachelor of Science, Nuclear Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology –  Nuclear Science and Engineering

Chemical Engineering

  • Median Annual Salary: $103,590
  • Projected job growth: 4.5%

Chemical engineers conceive and design processes to produce, transform, and transport materials. This begins with experimentation in the lab which is then followed by implementation of technology in full-scale production.

University of California, Berkeley –  Bachelor of Science,  Chemical Engineering


  • US News and World Report: Best Paying STEM Jobs: Engineering – Source
  • U.S. Department of Labor Statistics Salary Sources:
    Petroleum engineer salary – Source
    Computer hardware engineer salary – Source
    ComputerChemical engineer salary – Source
    Computer hardware engineer salary – BLS Source

Start your STEM journey today!

Regardless of discipline, pursing a career in engineering has many benefits. If it isn’t a right fit for your gifted student, there are still many other challenging and lucrative STEM careers they can pursue.

And the first step in a students journey is developing deeper proficiency in mathematics.

Classrooms do a good job of preparing students with introductory topics in math. Although, to develop mastery in fundamental math concepts, students need to engage in math and STEM-related extracurricular activities. This will prepare them for a successful career and strengthen their chances of being accepted to a top-tier university of their choice.

Get started with math!

To acquire the math skills needed to be successful in engineering, students need to regularly practice.

ZIML offers free daily math problems and mock AMC and AIME exams

Math app for practice and

There are a multitude of options and no one path is right or wrong. Areteem Institute’s ZIML app offers free daily math problems and mock AMC and AIME exams. Students also have the chance to check their progress in the ZIML monthly competitions available during the school year.

Math summer camps

During the summer, students can choose to register for math summer camps, which gives them a chance to be around other students who are strong in math and want to pursue a STEM career.

This years math camp line up for Areteem will be at Georgetown University and UC San Diego. They are both 3-week residential camps that range from diving into math concepts, problem-solving techniques for math competitions, and mini-seminars given by STEM professionals.

More info: Dive into summer camps for math learning

ZIML Convention @UCSD

For those who love competing in math competitions, Areteem’s ZIML Convention will be held during the UC San Diego camp and will be host to the annual ZIML competition with a cash prize of $2,000.

Download ZIML and check out Areteem Institute for more math learning resources

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