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Engineering Careers, Schools, and Training Information

Engineering - Career Information

Engineering picture    Engineering image

The field of Engineering is a branch of applied mathematics and science that encompasses a broad range of specialized disciplines and sub-disciplines, each with its own requirements and areas of technology. It is the science of using physical resources and natural laws to design, develop, construct, or alter a wide variety of structures, materials, devices, machines, apparatus, engines, processes, and systems. Due to the overall demand for engineering across all industries, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment for professionals in the many sub-fields of engineering will increase by as much as 9 percent nationally from 2012 to 2022.

While technological advancements continue to create new fields, or disciplines, (e.g., Software Engineering, Molecular Engineering), the main categories of Engineering have historically included:

  • Civil Engineering - Design and construction of private and public works (e.g., bridges, buildings, infrastructures).
  • Chemical Engineering - Transformation of raw materials into useful products/commodities.
  • Aerospace Engineering - Design of aircraft and spacecraft.
  • Mechanical Engineering - Design of mechanical or physical systems (e.g., powertrains, engines, vibration isolation equipment - the process of isolating an item/object from the source of vibration).
  • Electrical Engineering - Design of electrical goods and systems (e.g., transformers - devices that ultimately transfer electrical energy from one circuit to another).

In addition to their other responsibilities, engineers must identify, understand, and interpret the limitations or restrictions of a design in order to produce a successful outcome (taking many factors into consideration such as safety, cost, production and servicing abilities, flexibility for future enhancements, and more). And, while each profession has its own specific requirements, some of the more commonly shared characteristics/requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • the ability to reason and solve problems
  • strong technical, analytical, and communications skills
  • ability to use math and scientific methods to solve problems
  • ability to perceive and visualize
  • possess specific knowledge in engineering and technology, mathematics, administration and management, the English language, and computers and electronics

Top Careers in Engineering (BLS, 2013)

Career Number of Workers Nationally in 2013 Job Description Degree Requirements
Civil Engineers 262,170 The BLS notes that civil engineers design, construct and supervise the construction of large projects such as buildings, airports, dams, bridges, and roads. A career in civil engineering typically requires a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering or Civil Engineering Technology from an accredited program.
Biomedical Engineers 19,890 Biomedical engineers use principles of science and engineering to solve complex problems within biology and medicine. Most biomedical engineers begin their career by earning a Bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering. However, some earn a Bachelor's degree in another field then pursue a graduate degree in Biomedical Engineering.
Environmental Engineers 53,020 Environmental engineers use their in-depth knowledge of science and biology to solve complex environmental problems that affect air and water quality as well as public health. Environmental engineers typically earn a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Engineering to get started, although some begin this career with a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, or General Engineering.
Petroleum Engineers 34,910 According to the BLS, petroleum engineers use their knowledge of engineering and science to come up with new strategies for extracting oil and gas from below the earth's surface. Petroleum Engineers typically earn a Bachelor's degree in Petroleum Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or Chemical Engineering.
Mechanical Engineers 258,630 Mechanical engineers oversee a broad range of projects that deal with the creation of a wide range of products. They design and test machinery in order to find flaws and streamline processes. Entry level positions in this field require a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering Technology. The BLS notes that many research positions require a graduate degree.

Engineering Colleges and Education

Earning a degree in engineering may help you get your foot in the door in a wide range of industries. A Bachelor's degree is the starting point for most fields in the discipline of engineering, although earning a two-year degree may help you qualify for certain technician careers. Meanwhile, a graduate or professional degree in any one of these fields may increase your job prospects. The following table outlines the different degree and certificate options in this field and what kind of career they may help you qualify for:

Degree Type Timeline for Completion Possible Careers
Associate Associate degrees can typically be completed with two years of full-time study. However, programs completed on a part-time basis may take longer. Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians, Civil Engineering Technicians, Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians, Drafters, Electro-mechanical technicians, Environmental Engineering Technicians, Industrial Engineering Technicians, Mechanical Engineering Technicians
Bachelor's Bachelor's degree programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete. Aerospace Engineers, Agricultural Engineers, Biomedical Engineers, Chemical Engineers, Civil Engineers, Computer Hardware Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Environmental Engineers, Health and Safety Engineers, Industrial Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Nuclear Engineers, Petroleum Engineers
Graduate or Professional Students can earn a graduate or professional degree in 1-2 years after earning a Bachelor's degree. Aerospace Engineers, Agricultural Engineers, Biomedical Engineers, Chemical Engineers, Civil Engineers, Computer Hardware Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Environmental Engineers, Health and Safety Engineers, Industrial Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Nuclear Engineers, Petroleum Engineers

Sources:

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Civil Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/civil-engineers.htm#tab-6

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Biomedical Engineering, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm#tab-1

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Environmental Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/environmental-engineers.htm#tab-1

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Petroleum Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/petroleum-engineers.htm#tab-1

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Mechanical Engineers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/mechanical-engineers.htm#tab-1

"Bureau of Labor Statistics," May 2013 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm

Schools for Engineering are listed in the column to the left.

Careers and Salary Data

This table shows summary data on occupations in the US. Clicking on any occupation name brings you to a page showing job prospects and salaries for that occupation in hundreds of metro areas across the country, with data updated through 2022.(Where data is denoted by an asterisk (*), summary info was not available.

Click each Occupation title for more details.


Engineering

Occupation Jobs
(2014)
Median Pay
(2014)
% Growth
2012-2022
Aerospace Engineers 68,510     $109,650     -2.3%
Agricultural Engineers 1,980     $73,640     4.4%
Biomedical Engineers 20,590     $85,620     23.1%
Chemical Engineers 31,990     $98,340     1.8%
Civil Engineers 287,800     $83,540     8.4%
Computer Hardware Engineers 72,950     $115,080     3.1%
Electrical and Electronics Drafters 26,750     $59,970     5.4%
Electrical Engineers 183,770     $94,210     1.0%
Electronics Engineers 132,100     $99,210     -1.4%
Engineers 123,390     $97,300     4.0%
Environmental Engineers 52,280     $84,890     12.4%
Health and Safety Engineers 25,410     $86,720     6.2%
Industrial Engineers 256,550     $84,310     0.9%
Marine Engineers and Naval Architects 8,120     $93,350     8.9%
Materials Engineers 26,800     $93,310     1.3%
Mechanical Drafters 63,630     $54,480     -6.8%
Mechanical Engineers 285,790     $84,190     5.3%
Mining and Geological Engineers 6,940     $93,720     6.4%
Nuclear Engineers 17,680     $102,220     -4.0%
Petroleum Engineers 32,780     $128,230     9.8%
Sales Engineers 74,330     $100,000     7.0%
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