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Engineer.net Engineering Job News: Engineer Career Outlook
Engineering Boom: Career Growth on Upswing
by Brian O'Connell, © Engineer.net
August 22, 2006
Engineers are known for turning ideas into reality, but for industry professionals, the real trick is turning their career ambitions into reality.
Fortunately, the engineering sector is co-operating, with the industry ramping up for boom-like growth in the next few years.
According to the U.S. Labor Department Occupational Handbook, career prospects for engineers are bright and getting brighter as 2007 beckons. Technology is fueling a huge portion of that job growth. “Changes in technology continue to push companies to update products and services at a faster pace, which fuels new jobs,” says the Labor Department. “There’s demand for researchers in electrical engineering, so that companies can stay competitive. Bio-science engineering is a huge growth area. As the population continues to age, the demand for improved medical devices (like artificial organs) and procedures (like corrective laser surgery) continues to increase the demand for engineers.”
Supply and demand also works out in an engineer’s favor. At a speech at the Library of Congress last April, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates said, "There just aren't as many graduates with a computer-science background. [That] creates a dilemma for us, in terms of how we get our work done."
Perhaps that explains why unemployment among engineers was 2.5% in 2004, in line with the 2.8% rate for all professional occupations. In 2003, 4.3% of engineers were unemployed compared with 3.2% for all professionals. A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics data by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston shows that unemployment for U.S. engineers should remain at these lower levels - - over twice as low as the national unemployment averages through August, 2006.
The data also tells the story, especially for younger engineers. The spring survey of the National Association of College Employers (NACE) found that nearly 9 out of 10 employers have experienced an increase in competition for new college engineering hires. "In fact, more than 20 percent told us that they have raised or plan to raise their starting salaries to entice potential employees," said NACE Executive Director Marilyn Mackes.
Geographically, the Northeast U.S. is doing the most hiring of engineers, boasting a 25% hike in hiring rates out of school. But many areas of engineering are industry-centric and thus particular to geographic areas—for example, petroleum engineering jobs tend to be located in areas with sizable petroleum deposits, such as Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alaska, and California. Others, such as civil engineering, are widely dispersed, and engineers in these fields often move from place to place to work on different projects.
While the engineering job sector isn’t all roses, there is ample evidence to suggest that it is, by and large, flourishing. In our next article, we’ll take a look at what skills engineers need to land that dream job.
Table II: Average Salaries for Engineers: 2006.
about the author
Brian O’Connell is a writer with 12 years experience covering business news and trends, particularly in the financial, Internet and technology, and career management sectors.
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