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 average pay in Kentucky ranging from $79,917 for industrial engineers to $104,798 for aerospace engineers.
According 2016 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing employs the most engineers of any industry. Within manufacturing, the largest number of jobs for engineers are related to the production of computer and electronic products, transportation equipment, and machines.
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 5,000 positions projected in 2026.
Kentucky demand for industrial engineers is expected to increase by double digits.
- Industrial engineers: 11.1 percent increase from 2016 to 2026, from 4,591 to 5,102 positions. Average salary $79,917.
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: 4.1 percent increase from 2016 to 2026, from 3,244 to 3,377 positions. Average salary $84,191.
Electronics engineers research, design, develop, or test electronic components and systems for commercial, industrial, military, or scientific use.
- Electronics engineers, except computer: 7.8 percent increase from 2016 to 2026, from 552 to 595 positions. Average salary $87,948.
Chemical engineers work in labs and sometimes industrial sites. They are employed in the production of energy, food, medicines, and more. Although demand in Kentucky is showing a slight decline, the average salary is second highest among engineers. Here in Kentucky there are several job listings for process engineers—chemical engineers who specialize in processes such as polymerization.
- Chemical engineers: 1.0 percent decrease from 2016 to 2026, from 486 to 481 positions. Average salary $89,851.
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: 10.9 percent increase from 2016 to 2026, from 138 to 153 positions. Average salary $104,798.
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.
Drafters prepare detailed working diagrams, converting the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings. They use computer-aided design 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 technicians, 6.5 percent increase from 2016 to 2026, from 443 to 472 jobs. Average salary $49,042.
- Mechanical drafters: 4.0 percent increase from 2016 to 2026, from 804 to 836 jobs. Average salary $49,700.
- Electrical and electronics drafters: 12.0 percent increase from 2016 to 2026, from 457 to 512 jobs. Average salary $53,791.
- Industrial engineering technicians: 6.7 percent increase from 2016 to 2026, from 974 to 1,039 jobs. Average salary $58,976.
Figures from Kentucky Occupational Outlook to 2026.