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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)

CareerNumber of Workers Nationally in 2013Job DescriptionDegree Requirements
Civil Engineers262,170The 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 Engineers19,890Biomedical 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 Engineers53,020Environmental 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 Engineers34,910According 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 Engineers258,630Mechanical 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 TypeTimeline for CompletionPossible Careers
AssociateAssociate 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'sBachelor'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 ProfessionalStudents 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

OccupationJobs
(2016)
Median Pay
(2016)
% Growth
2014-2024
Aerospace Engineers63,960     $115,220     6.1%
Agricultural Engineers1,630     $77,110     8.1%
Biomedical Engineers18,970     $88,550     7.2%
Chemical Engineers32,060     $104,910     7.6%
Civil Engineers306,030     $86,640     10.6%
Computer Hardware Engineers60,750     $114,600     5.5%
Electrical and Electronics Drafters24,900     $60,070     6.7%
Electrical Engineers186,490     $96,640     8.6%
Electronics Engineers134,110     $102,700     3.7%
Engineers142,030     $96,980     6.2%
Environmental Engineers53,070     $87,620     8.3%
Health and Safety Engineers26,230     $89,130     8.6%
Industrial Engineers279,550     $87,040     9.7%
Marine Engineers and Naval Architects11,350     $92,560     11.5%
Materials Engineers26,930     $92,390     1.6%
Mechanical Drafters56,170     $55,920     5.1%
Mechanical Engineers303,440     $87,370     8.8%
Mining and Geological Engineers5,780     $92,250     7.2%
Nuclear Engineers15,980     $107,600     3.8%
Petroleum Engineers32,510     $137,170     14.5%
Sales Engineers65,720     $101,420     6.9%
Source: 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov

Selected Schools for Engineering (including any online schools)

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