Engineering is one of the most lucrative and rewarding professions. The demand for engineers and the number of candidates hired vary and change with time as well as with the international economic conditions. A large change in the economic conditions such as a contraction or expansion is sure to change the job market for engineers. Apart from sudden economic upheavals, there are many other factors which determine how good the prospects are for engineers to find new employment or remain gainfully employed. The job outlook for engineers in the United States is predicted by analyzing current employment rates, job vacancies and salary scales.
General prospects of engineering jobs in the USA:
Like most other sectors, engineering jobs were also impacted by the recent recession. Many engineers were given the infamous pink slip and thousands lost their jobs in 2008-2009. In the past year, the job market has again started to improve with the hiring of engineers. According to some economic analysts, the prospects seemed to broaden in 2012. However, if looked at closely, one can observe that the growth and employment of engineers has actually slowed down.
Different mediums have reported that in February, 2013 only 50,000 engineering job ads were posted online in the United States. Compared to 2012, the demand for engineers has gone down by approx 12%. The Bureau of Labor Statistics observes that engineering job markets will continue to grow, but for successful employment candidates will have to work harder to find the right job. The employment market for engineers is becoming increasingly competitive as companies that have budget restrictions are becoming increasingly more selective.
Not all engineering disciplines are getting equal job opportunities. The engineering job ads show that the posts for engineering positions most in demand are electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, project managers, software engineers, administrative assistants, civil engineers, project engineers, program managers, systems managers, systems engineers and systems administrators. The top five engineer recruiting areas are Washington (DC), Baltimore, Detroit, Houston and New York. Though previously Los Angeles and San Francisco were previously in this list, a suddenly drop in recruitment has taken them out of the top five.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), among candidates with a bachelor’s degree, the best prospects for finding a promising engineering position are in the following disciplines:
- Aerospace Engineers: Fuel efficient aircrafts and changes in air vehicles designs and materials have made recruitment of aerospace engineers a must for many companies. In the next 10 years, the prospect of employment in this area of engineering will grow by almost 6%. Aerospace engineers are needed for the US Defense positions also. The key skills which are important to employers are the knowledge of robotics, simulation and collaboration with engineering tools.
- Electronic Engineers: This discipline is expected to be promising in the coming 10 years in the US. Among the top employers are the two big US companies Siemens and General Electric. The salary for a skilled electronic engineer is above an approximate $88,000 annually. This is one of the highest salaries in the engineering field. The key skills for electronic engineers are the ability to develop, design and supervise the production of electronic components and equipment.
- Mechanical Engineers: The next 5-10 years will witness a small surge in the job market for mechanical engineers. Every big business dealing with mechanical equipment or technology in general needs the expertise of mechanical engineers for producing and manufacturing better products. The average salary for the mechanical engineers is expected to be close to $83,000 annually.
- Nuclear Engineers: The job market will also favor nuclear engineers in the coming years. According to market analysis, there will be a growth of 10%-11% in this sector. Not many students opt for this profession and with the widening of the job market the chances of securing better salaries will increase. Power plants require the services of nuclear engineers to develop better and safer working environments with increased efficiencies.
- Civil Engineers: The employment prospects for civil engineers is also very bright in the US. With the goal of the government to vastly improve its infrastructure to accommodate a growing population and upgrading existing structures that are deteriorating, civil engineers are in high demand. They are responsible for building and planning bridges, houses, towers, roads and tunnels as well as other structures of high complexity. The approximate salary of a civil engineer is around $82,000 annually.
- Petroleum Engineers: Estimates show that in the coming 10 years the job market for petroleum engineers will continue to grow and expand. The determinants playing a key role in the growth of employment in this discipline are the increasing prices of oil and the high numbers of expected retirement of petroleum engineers that are baby boomers. The growth will approach 18 % in the next 10 years.
- Biomedical Engineers: In the coming 10 years demand for biomedical engineers will increase by an approximate 68% as the population continues to age. Biomedical engineers are expected to be highly skilled and combine their knowledge of engineering, medicine and healthcare apparatus to contribute substantially in this sector. With much needed improvements in healthcare technology, the job markets have broadened for biomedical engineers. Their approximate salary is nearly $81,000 annually.
- Computer Software Engineers: Computer engineers and software developers can also expect an increase in employment opportunities. The job market for computer engineers will grow by an estimated 34% in the next 10 years. Candidates with the knowledge of multiple software languages, hardware development, and network technology will be given preference.
Despite the recent recession, engineering type jobs can still be found. One may have to brush up on their skills by taking some seminars or participating in an evening school program as technology and the application of technology is rapidly changing the requirements for hiring.