What Do Capital Goods Jobs Pay?

Jill Caren
By Jill Caren
Updated December 17th, 2023

If you are not clear on what capital goods are, then head on over to our article that explains what the industry is and why capital goods is a good career path.

As far as answering the question, what do capital goods pay, it is not that easy. There are a lot of different jobs in capital goods and the salary ranges can be huge across the industry.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the average salaries for some of the more common jobs within the capital goods sector. The number of jobs in capital goods is rather large and spans marketing, mechanics, management, and more.

Below we will do our best to provide data so you can get an idea of what to expect in regards to capital goods pay.

Good Paying Jobs in Capital Goods

We are breaking this list out into two sections.

First, we will cover some of the best paying skilled trades in the capital goods industry. We will then follow that up with a short list of some pay averages for common degree careers in the industry.

Skilled Trade Capital Goods Jobs

The jobs below do not require a college degree, but most will require a GED or high school diploma. Some may require additional training or vocational education as well.

Earnings are ranges found on BLS.gov and Salary.com. Less-experienced tradespeople will earn much lower wages than more experienced coworkers. Location also plays a big part in wages as well. Overtime and overnight hours are common in the industry and can increase earnings considerable.

1. Machinist
Estimated salary range: $40,000 – $60,000

Set up and operate machine tools like lathes, milling machines, and grinders to produce precision metal parts. Read blueprints and follow specifications to machine parts to exact dimensions. May program CNC machines.

2. Welder
Estimated salary range: $40,000 – $60,000

Join, cut, or weld metal components together using techniques like TIG, MIG, and arc welding. Follow blueprints to fuse parts together. Must be able to operate welding equipment safely.

3. Plumber
Estimated salary range: $40,000 – $70,000

Install, repair, and maintain pipes, drainage systems, water heaters, and other plumbing fixtures in residential or commercial buildings. Requires knowledge of plumbing codes and ability to work with pipefitting tools.

4. Electrician
Estimated salary range: $40,000 – $65,000

Install, maintain, and repair electrical power, lighting, control, and communication systems in homes and businesses. Pull wire, connect circuits, and test for proper functionality.

5. CNC Machine Operator
Estimated salary range: $35,000 – $50,000

Operate computer numerical control (CNC) machines to fabricate metal or plastic parts. Load programs, set up tools, and produce machined components to specifications.

6. Assembly Technician
Estimated salary range: $30,000 – $45,000

Assemble finished products and parts in a factory or plant setting. Use hand tools and follow blueprints and instructions to put together components.

College Graduate Opportunities

Below are some of the best jobs for those with college degrees. Many of these jobs will actually require a minimum of an MBA as well.

All wages are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are the median annual salary for the job as of May 2021. Median means half of all workers make more and half make less.

Location, education, and experience will have a lot to do with the salary you can make.

1. Software Developer

Check out U.S. News for data regarding one of the best paying jobs in the capital goods-software developer. The average salary of a software developer was $110,140 in 2020 (25% of top earners with a salary of $140,470 and 25% of lowest earners with a salary of $84,020).

The Bureau of labor statistics projects a growth in the software development field both in salary and job volume in the years to come (around 22% by 2030 with additional 409,500 jobs by that time).

If you aspire to become a software developer, you should be skilled to:

  • Permit users to do specific assignments on computers or other devices
  • Improve existing systems that run devices or control networks
  • Write, adapt, and repair software for client applications
  • Use source debuggers and graphic development environments
  • Examine and file software for client applications
  • Inscribe code to produce single-threaded, multi-threaded, or user interface event-driven applications
  • Be familiar with various computer languages, operating systems, and various databases, that are used widely in different businesses

If you have the above-mentioned skills and knowledge you’ll also need a bachelor’s degree in software engineering, computer science, or other related majors and have appropriate job experience.

2. Electrical Engineer

According to Career explorer, the average annual salary for an electrical engineer in the US is around$100,420. There are also several salary categories based on seniority:

If your dream is to work in the field of electrical engineering and have one of the best paying jobs in capital goods then the job of an electrical engineer is perfect for you. As an electrical engineer, you’ll have the chance to:

  • Asses electrical systems, products, components, and applications
  • Create and conduct research programs
  • Apply knowledge of electricity and materials
  • Confirm system’s and components’ abilities
  • Improve electrical products by examining customer requirements
  • Research and test manufacturing
  • Develop manufacturing processes through design and equipment modification
  • Assure the quality of products
  • Test end-products and system potentials
  • Prepare product reports
  • Providing engineering information by answering questions and requests
  • Comply with federal and state regulations to maintain product and company reputation

Most employers require a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. You’ll also need licenses if you work for a Government or a federal contractor. The license requirements depend on the state, but usually include an exam you have to pass to receive the license and a minimum number of years of job experience. All of you fresh graduates don’t worry! For you, there’s an option for a pre-licensure certification.

3. Industrial Engineer

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary of an industrial engineer was $95,300 in May 2021 with a projected growth of 14% from 2020 to 2030.

Once you become an industrial engineer your job will be to:

  • Create job evaluation programs
  • Eliminate production processes’ wastefulness
  • Evaluate production schedules, engineering requirements, and process flows
  • Manufacture parts or products, or provide services, with maximum efficiency
  • Make more efficient financial planning and cost analysis
  • Perform quality control procedures
  • Resolve production problems
  • Minimize costs
  • Ensure that products meet quality criteria
  • Discuss with clients about product requirements, sellers about purchases, management personnel about manufacturing potentials, and staff about the project’s status

The required education for one of the best paying jobs in capital goods is a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering technologies or industrial engineering. You can work as an industrial engineer with a degree in mechanical, electrical, manufacturing, or general engineering.

4. Project Manager

The average project manager salary on Talent in the US is $92,036 per year or $47.20per hour. Experienced project managers can make up to $131,796 per year while project managers at entry-level positions start at $67,578 per year. As in every other profession, experience makes quite a difference in the project manager’s paycheck.

The project manager’s role is:

  • To be in charge of specific projects
  • To use project management methodologies to plan, monitor, and report the project
  • To lunch a project idea and manage it until its completion
  • To act as a bond between the upper management and the people who are responsible for the project’s execution
  • To make sure the project runs smoothly and on time
  • To report the project’s progress to the upper management

If you see yourself in the role of project manager here are a few must-have qualifications starting with:

  • A bachelor’s degree in IT
  • A bachelor’s degree in Computer science
  • A bachelor’s degree in Business management, or a related field

Besides having a bachelor’s degree in one of these fields a relevant project management-related experience is a plus. An even bigger plus goes to an internationally recognized Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. If you got what it takes start building your future career in one of the best paying jobs in capital goods and become a project manager.

5. Marketing Manager

The salary data on Builtin for the position of marketing manager are as follows:

  • A marketing manager in the US receives an average salary of $88,827
  • For a marketing manager, the average additional cash compensation is $7,867
  • The average total compensation received by a marketing manager in the US is $96,694

As a marketing manageryou’ll:

  • Oversee and help create different advertising or merchandising sales campaigns that the business will use to sell itself and its products
  • Work on a sole product, a line of products, a brand, or an entire company
  • Incorporate a variation of input received from creative, research, advertising, and sales teams
  • Supervise one or multiple marketing campaigns
  • Devise a campaign in its entirety
  • See a comprehensive opportunity and enlist members of his or her marketing team to brainstorm potential campaign ideas
  • Orchestrate the necessary organization and timing precision
  • Assist in developing market research studies
  • Analyze market research findings
  • Work in partnership with product managers to implement new and improved initiatives
  • Monitor the performance of marketing programs as a guide to current and future campaigns and strategies

For one of the best paying jobs in capital goods in the US, a marketing degree from a university is required, while postgraduate work and management disciplines are encouraged. People with this job title work regular hours during the week but might need to put in some extra hours in the office when launching their newly created campaigns.

6. Product Development Engineer

The average salary of a product development engineer on Payscale.com is $75,987. Of course, the salary of an entry-level product development engineer is different than the salary of an experienced product development engineer:

  • Based on 161 salaries a product development engineer with less than 1-year experience can earn an average total pay of $65,666 (Including tips, bonuses, and overtime pay)
  • Based on 1087 salaries an early career product development engineer (1-4 years of experience) earns an average payment of $72,863
  • Based on 563 salaries a mid-career product development engineer (5-9 years of experience) earns $83,198 as an average total payment
  • Based on 169 salaries an experienced product development engineer (10-19 years of experience) earns $91,839
  • Employees with an impressive career of 20 years and more can earn an average total pay of $105,233. No wonder one of the best paying jobs in capital goods is the job of a product development engineer!

If you’re wondering what product development engineers do, they:

  • Manage the design, and test the product’s development
  • Assess the mechanical design properties of the product, and decide whether it meets the necessary standards and functionality
  • Conceptualize ideas
  • Design their ideas in a 3-D modeling program
  • Specify accurate design characteristics
  • Plan the necessary steps from conceptualization to the final product
  • Determine the materials needed to create the product, potential designs, and potential buyers for the product
  • Determine ways in which the product can be marketed
  • Document the current status of the product throughout the production process
  • Work in teams to develop a fully functional, marketable product

To get a job as a product development engineer it is good to know that most employers require their employees to have a bachelor’s degree or higher in mechanical, industrial design, material science, or manufacturing engineering and be highly experienced in AutoCAD, SolidWorks, or other 3-D modeling software.


Now that you have a general idea of what kinds of salaries you can earn in capital goods, it is time to think about options. Is this a sector you can see yourself in?

If so, narrow down your career choice, attend college or a trade school and get that new career started.

Jill Caren is an international SEO consultant and founder of 2Dogs Media. She is also a trainer, journalist, and speaker who helps brands increase their organic search visibility, traffic, and conversions. She is also the co-founder of Blue Collar Brain, a resource for those looking to enter a trade career.

She has been featured on MSN, Wealth of Geeks, Hubspot, SEO Powersuite, and other publications for her work as an SEO and advocate for skilled trades.