Top engineering jobs of 2011: Engineers in high demand

Top engineering jobs of 2011: Engineers in high demand

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News & Events - Engineering News

September 27, 2011

A Matter of Education

Many economists and labor experts affirm there are an inordinate number of job openings in the U.S. The most pressing issue facing the nation, they contend, is the dearth of qualified candidates to fill those positions.

President Obama and scores of other leaders have publicly called for an overhaul of the U.S. education system. It is not adequately preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow – and even today – as studies indicate U.S. students are failing to excel amid a post-recessionary milieu that favors advanced degrees and those educated in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Engineers In-Demand Among Dominant Companies 

In the U.S., students studying engineering are positioning themselves to succeed amid an exceedingly competitive market. "Overall opportunities for engineers are expected to be good," and "starting salaries are among the highest of all college graduates," according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

While many U.S. college graduates are struggling to find work, engineers are thriving. Some of the most popular companies in the world, such as Facebook, Google, Apple and Twitter, are actively seeking to add engineers to their workforces, and they are luring them with competitive benefits packages, exceedingly high starting salaries and amazing perks.

Engineering Job Outlook 

In its "2011 Job Outlook" report, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) concluded that along with those in computer science and other technical fields, "engineering majors . . . are most in demand at the bachelor's degree level." The findings are significant, experts say, as NACE's annual report is often regarded as a harbinger of future job prospects because the organization polls employers across the U.S., asking them what kinds of workers they will hire over the coming years.

As a whole, the U.S. Department of Labor expects engineering jobs to surge 11 percent through 2018, while many other fields are forecast to contract. NACE further delineated among what kinds of engineers rank at the top of businesses' wish lists, and projections from BLS analysts and economists corroborate their assertions.

The following specialities were chosen based on their projected demand over the coming decade, as well as the average salary such engineers will command.

1. Electrical Engineers
Industry experts project electrical engineers will experience the most success in the U.S. labor market over the coming years. Tasked with developing, designing, testing and supervising the production of electric equipment, electrical engineers are highly coveted by companies like Siemens and General Electric. At $87,770, according to NACE, their average salary is tops among all engineers as well.

2. Mechanical Engineers
The demand for mechanical engineers is primed to jump precipitously over the next decade. As businesses increasingly work to improve technological efficiency, they are seeking out mechanical engineers, who develop, process and test materials used to create everything from computer chips to snowboards. What's more, NACE calculates their average salary at a whopping $82,480.

3. Civil Engineers
As the U.S. works to improve its infrastructure and prepare major metropolitan hubs like New York City for population surges, those with degrees in civil engineering are in demand. Civil engineers design and supervise the construction of roadways, buildings, airports, tunnels and other major transportation networks, and government forecasts civil engineers to have employment growth of 24 percent over the decade. They command an average salary of $82,280.

4. Biomedical Engineers
Biomedical engineers combine their knowledge of biology, medicine and engineering to develop improved healthcare devices and procedures, and as a result of pharmaceutical and biotech firms' increased emphasis on cost-effectiveness, the government projects biomedical engineers to have employment growth of a whopping 72 percent over the next decade. They command a high salary in excess of $80,000, but they often need graduate degrees to work in research laboratories and other advanced facilities.

5. Environmental Engineers
Forecast to experience employment growth of 31 percent over the coming decade, environmental engineers are needed to help companies comply with environmental regulations, as well as to ensure cleanup of hazardous wastes is conducted properly. As businesses shift their attention away from controlling existing problems to preventing them from occurring, environmental engineers stand to benefit.


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