Manufacturing needs engineers of all kinds to design and develop both products and processes. And engineers also need drafters and engineering technicians to assist them.
Engineers earn among the highest salaries in manufacturing, with median wage in Kentucky ranging from $79,683 for industrial engineers to $100,592 for aerospace engineers.
Industrial engineers focus on creating efficiency in the systems used to make a product or provide a service. In Kentucky, industrial engineers make up the largest group of engineers who work in manufacturing, with over 6,100 positions projected in 2028.
Kentucky demand for industrial engineers is expected to increase by double digits.
- Industrial engineers: 13.4 percent increase from 2018 to 2028, from 5,425 to 6,152 positions. Median wage $79,683.
Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices. Many of them work in industries that manufacture machinery or automotive parts.
- Mechanical engineers: 6.54 percent increase from 2018 to 2028, from 4,034 to 4,298 positions. Median wage $84,045.
Chemical engineers work in labs and sometimes industrial sites. They are employed in the production of energy, food, medicines, and more. Here in Kentucky there are several job listings for process engineers—chemical engineers who specialize in processes such as polymerization.
- Chemical engineers: 3.64 percent increase from 2018 to 2028, from 385 to 399 positions. Median wage $99,857.
Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks, and routers. They are fewer in number than other engineers in Kentucky, but demand is increasing.
- Computer hardware engineers: 18.66 percent increase from 2018 to 2028, from 268 to 318 positions. Median wage $81,879.
Aerospace engineers design aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. You may need a security clearance if you work on projects related to national defense.
- Aerospace engineers: 5.7 percent increase from 2018 to 2028, from 158 to 167 positions. Median wage $100,592.
Drafters and Technicians
An associate degree in computer-aided drafting (CAD) and engineering technology can lead to good-paying jobs as a drafter or engineering technician.
Electrical and electronics drafters prepare detailed working diagrams and drawings for electrical and electronics equipment. They use computer-aided design and drafting software. The Kentucky Community and Technical College System offers associate degree programs in computer-aided drafting and design.
Engineering technicians assist engineers with manufacturing processes in factories, or with development in research and development labs before manufacturing takes place. Local KCTCS colleges offer associate degrees in engineering technology.
These careers are in demand in Kentucky:
- Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians: 5.75 percent increase from 2018 to 2028, from 678 to 717 jobs. Median wage $51,828.
- Electrical and electronics drafters: 8.7 percent increase from 2018 to 2028 from 299 to 325 jobs. Median wage $68,529.
- Industrial engineering technologists and technicians: 8.66 percent increase from 2018 to 2028, from 1,097 to 1,192 jobs. Median wage $54,657.
Figures from Kentucky Occupational Outlook to 2028.