Why It Is a Great Time To Be an Engineer
Engineers and aspiring engineers have much to celebrate as they commemorate National Engineers Week, beginning on February 21.
The engineering industry offers a wide range of opportunities for people with diverse skill sets at every level of education. From aerospace and defense engineering to biomedical engineering to mechanical and electrical engineering, the field is wide open. Engineers today impact nearly every aspect of modern life, forever changing the way we work and live.
“Policymakers and scholars consistently emphasize innovation based on S&E [science and engineering] research and development as a vehicle for a nation’s economic growth and global competitiveness,” according to the National Science Board’s Science and Engineering 2016 Indicators report.
“In the increasingly interconnected twenty-first century world, workers with S&E expertise are integral to a nation’s innovative capacity because of their high skill level, their creative ideas and their ability not only to advance basic scientific knowledge but also to transform advances in fundamental knowledge into tangible and useful products and services,” the report says.
So whether you’re just getting started in your career or considering a career change, we’re proud to say, it’s a great time to be an engineer! Read on to find out why.
Jobs are plentiful
Between 2014 and 2015, there were nearly 2.5 million job postings for engineering occupations and only 567,000 active job candidates, according to research conducted by CareerBuilder.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) latest research finds that some of the top growing engineering occupations include biomedical engineers (23 percent) and environmental engineers (12 percent), outpacing the average growth of 7 percent for all occupations between 2014-2024.
Here are the occupations employed by the engineering industry according to statistics from Emsi, a CareerBuilder company:
- Civil engineers hold 135,682 of engineering jobs (14.3 percent)
- Mechanical engineers, 54,604 (5.7 percent)
- Electrical engineers, 39,903 (4.2 percent)
- Architectural and engineering managers, 36,355 (3.8 percent) and architectural and civil drafters, 31,640 (3.3 percent)
Engineering jobs pay off
Engineering majors who graduate this year, are projected to post significantly higher starting salaries than most of their peers, finds the BLS. At $64,891, their starting salaries are up 3 percent from 2015.
As they move ahead in their careers, engineers can look forward to healthy increases. In fact, on average, these engineering occupations pay the following salaries, according to the BLS:
- Electrical engineers, $93,260
- Biomedical engineers, $86,950
- Environmental engineers, $83,360
- Mechanical engineers, $83,060
- Civil engineers, $82,050
Investment in STEM is a priority
In the next five to ten years, many of the Baby Boomers will be looking to retire, leaving a considerable shortage of skilled engineers. While this may present a concern for many businesses, it provides a wealth of opportunities for eager engineers ready to take on the challenges of the twenty-first century.
And the White House has taken note. “To meet the projected workforce need of one million additional STEM graduates by 2022, and to realize the vision of a highly diverse, creative, and sufficient STEM workforce and a STEM-literate citizenry… President Obama has made improving [STEM] education a priority — and he believes that every American student deserves access to a high-quality education in STEM for both their future and for the Nation’s future,” according to the White House.
Opportunities for women and minorities abound
The administration’s effort also includes women and minorities who are poorly represented in many STEM fields. “Women, who make up 47 percent of the U.S. workforce, are sorely under-represented in STEM fields. They comprise only 13 percent of engineers and 25 percent of computer scientists and mathematicians,” according to the National Girls Collaborative Project.
In addition, data from Emsi reveals that whites hold 746,039 of engineering jobs (78.6 percent); Hispanic or Latinos, 75,832 (8 percent); Asians, 62,369 (6.6 percent); Black or African American, 52,991 (5.6 percent); Those of two or more races, 8,193 (0.9 percent); American Indian or Alaska Native, 3,011 (3 percent) and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders, 1,286 (0.1 percent).
Organizations such as Career Communications Group (CCG) recognize the importance of inspiring new, diverse generations of talent to pursue careers in the field of STEM and are making strides in changing the status quo. Founded by CCG, the BEYA STEM Conference is the nation’s largest annual gathering of STEM professionals and leaders, aiming to provide an environment for networking and professional development for thousands of STEM professionals and students from across the country.
Today, women and other underrepresented groups within STEM are encouraged to pursue rewarding careers within the field. Those interested in engineering careers can also benefit from many opportunities for training, financial aid and scholarships.
Veterans' skills transfer
While on active military duty, many veterans acquire valuable skills that are easily transferable to civilian engineering jobs.
“For some companies, the nature of their work — engineering for military, national defense, intelligence, cyber security, aerospace — favors candidates with specialized military skillsets and experience,” says Engineer.com Magazine. “For others, engineers with military backgrounds bring an understanding of teamwork, protocol, hierarchy, and discipline they can’t find anywhere else.”