Take a closer look at these brainy chart-toppers

By  Christopher McFadden

Feb 11, 2021

Interesting Engineering

The world’s richest engineers come from a variety of backgrounds and industries. If you search for the highest-paid jobs or what industry will earn you the most money, you would definitely find engineering near the top of the list.

So who are these elusive, and very wealthy, engineers? Let’s have a look. 

Please note, the following figures are based on those provided by Forbes. Also, note that five out of the top ten of the world’s richest people are engineers. Please also note that the following list is not necessarily in any particular order. 

With that in mind, anyone looking for a job with a decent starting salary and a good increase in income over time should really consider studying engineering in college. Who knows, you might become the next “richest” engineer in the world? 

1. Jeff Bezos tops the charts, once again

Net Worth (As of February 2021 – Forbes Data): $191.2 billion

Company or companies: Amazon/Blue Origin

University Degree: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Forbes recorded Bezos’ fortune to be around $191.2 billion, making him the richest of the richest engineers. The founder and CEO of the e-commerce platform Amazon has an electrical and computer science engineering degree.

Jeff has soared to the top of Forbe’s billionaire ranks as Amazon’s stock rocketed over the last year or so. This rapid climb is largely due to the pandemic, and partly due to Amazon’s cloud-computing unit, Amazon Web Services. Bezos owns around 17% of Amazon.com and boasted in 2016 to shareholders that Amazon is the fastest company of all time to reach $100 billion in annual sales.

Bezos was raised by his mother and stepfather, who was a Cuban immigrant who adopted him. He actually quit a very lucrative New York Hedge Fund career in 1994 to start a company based on the idea of selling books on the internet. Amazon now sells pretty much everything that you would want.

Bezos also has a passion for space travel. He formed an Aerospace company, Blue Origin, to develop a reusable rocket that he intends to use to ferry passengers and cargo. He also purchased The Washington Post in 2013 for a paltry $250 million.

In early 2021, Bezos announced that he intended to step down as the CEO of Amazon.

2. Bill Gates is one of the world’s wealthiest engineers

Net Worth (As of February 2021 – Forbes Data): $123.5 billion

Company: Formerly Microsoft

University Degree: Never completed his undergraduate studies 

According to Forbes, Gates’ estimated wealth is around $123.5 billion. He is the second richest person and 7th most powerful, according to some.

“Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organization and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world.”

Although he didn’t finish his undergraduate degree, he studied mathematics and computer science at Harvard, and his work since dropping out is certainly some of the most important in the business of computer technology of all time.

His services to computer engineering should really qualify him as an honorary engineer if nothing else.

Bill Gates resigned as the head of Microsoft in 2014, but remains an advisor and board member for the company which he founded in 1975.

3. Bernard Arnault oversees over 70 well-known brands

Net Worth (As of February 2021 – Forbes Data): $154.3 billion (includes family)

Company: LVMH

University Degree: Engineering 

French businessman Bernard Arnault is the CEO of LVMH, a multinational luxury goods conglomerate owning Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessey. He is also a vivid art collector, owning works by Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Henry Moore. According to Forbes, his net worth comes in at $154.3 billion, which is shared with his family, making him also the 4th richest person on the list, and 56th most powerful person, according to Forbes.

Arnault is one of the world’s ultimate tastemakers and oversees 70 brands, including the likes of Dom Perignon, Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Sephora, and Tag Heuer, as well as nearly 3,900 retail stores. He has been the LVMH’s CEO since 1989 which made a record $40 billion in sales in 2016.

Although Mr. Arnault’s wealth isn’t entirely engineering-related, he does hold an Engineering degree from Ecole Polytechnique in France and once worked for his father’s civil engineering firm.

4. Mark Zuckerberg is the name behind many social networks

Net Worth (As of February 2021 – Forbes Data):  $99.4 billion

Company: Facebook

University Studies: Computer Science Engineering

Zuckerberg has a net worth of $99.4 billion according to Forbes. This places him in 4th place for the richest person in the world and 13th most powerful person. His net worth has soared as Facebook’s stock price has skyrocketed.

Zuckerberg is another university dropout who has done very well indeed, thank you. He left Harvard University in 2004 at the age of 19 to launch the global giant that is Facebook.

Mark and his wife have pledged to give away around 99% of their Facebook stake over their lifetimes.

5. Carlos Slim

Net Worth (As of February 2021 – Forbes Data): $58.2

Company: Telmex

University Degree: Civil Engineering

If you could imagine a scenario where your grocery store, cell phone provider, and biggest national construction company were all owned by the same company, then you’d pretty much have described the situation in Mexico. Now picture one man in charge of all this – now you’ve described Carlos Slim.

According to Forbes, Carlos Slim has a net worth of $58.2 billion. He is not only one of the richest engineers on this list but is also the 12th richest person and Forbes also lists him as the 20th most powerful.

He studied civil engineering in the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico and is now the CEO and chairman of Telmex (Mexico’s only phone company), America Movil (Latin America’s biggest mobile telecom firm), Samsung Mexico, and Grupo Carso. 

6. Charles Koch from Koch Industries

Net Worth (As of February 2021 – Forbes Data): $44.9 billion

Company: Koch Industries

University Degree: General Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, andChemical Engineering

Koch has a net worth of $44.9 billion, according to Forbes. He is said to be the 8th richest person and 37th most powerful. Charles Koch received two M.Sc. degrees – in Chemical and Nuclear Engineering from MIT and together with his brother founded a chemical and oil-refining company, Koch Industries, where he currently holds the position of CEO.

This conglomerate has hundreds of billion in sales from pipelines, chemicals, Dixie cups, Brawny paper towels, and Stainmaster carpets. His father Fred Koch founded the original company, Rock Island Oil & Refining Company, in 1940, and the company developed an improved method of refining heavy oil into gasoline.

8. Larry Ellison

Net Worth (As of February 2021 – Forbes Data): $88.2 billion

Company: Oracle

University Degree: Never completed his undergraduate studies

Ellison is said to be worth $88.2 billion according to Forbes. They also list him as the 5th richest person in the world. Ellison co-founded the software giant Oracle in 1977 to take advantage of the growing market for customer relationship management databases.

He resigned from his role as CEO in 2014 but is still involved as chairman and chief technology officer. Ellison, like other entries on this list, never completed his undergraduate degree and got his start building databases for the CIA until founding Oracle.

9. Michael Bloomberg knows how to run his business

Net Worth (As of February 2021 – Forbes Data): $54.9 billion

Company: Bloomberg L.P.

University Degree: Electrical Engineering

How rich is Michael Bloomberg$50 billion according to Forbes, that’s how. After studying electrical engineering in university, Bloomberg decided to turn to finance and founded his own company called Bloomberg L.P. in 1981.

“My first job out of school was on Wall Street and I stayed there for 15 years. It was a terrific ride. Everybody loved me– right up until the day they fired me!” 

Bloomberg is a global financial software, data, and media organization, where Michael Bloomberg holds 88% shares of the whole company. 

Bloomberg got started on Wall Street in 1966 as an entry-level worker at the investment bank Salomon Brothers. He started out counting bond and stock certificates and worked his way up to bond trading and then became a partner in 1972.

Bloomberg was later demoted from his position as Head of Equity Trading and Sales in 1979. He was fired 15 years later when the company went public in 1981, with a severance package of $10 million.

10. Larry Page

Net Worth (As of February 2021 – Forbes Data): $90.7 billion

Company: Google

University Degree: Computer Science Engineering

Forbes lists Page as having a net worth of $90.7 billion. This makes him the 8th richest person and the 10th most powerful, according to Forbes, as well as the 5th richest person in tech.

“You never lose a dream; it just incubates as a hobby.”

The CEO of Google co-founded the major search engine back in 1998 but owns only 16% of the shares. Having graduated with a master’s degree in computer science engineering from the University of Stanford, he contributed to many of the important decisions made in organizing and founding Google.

Larry’s rise to wealth began during his time at Stanford University when he met Sergey Brin. The pair decided to work on a dissertation on how websites are linked to one another.

After this, they created PageRank, which ranked websites based on their relative numbers of page links. This eventually evolved into what we now know as Google.

The very first incarnation of Google roamed the Stanford website in 1996, and the rest is history.

Page is a clean energy advocate and has even installed fuel cells and geothermal energy systems in his Palo Alto house. He has reportedly personally funded two secretive flying car startups, Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk.

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