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Career and Job Search Guide


Engineer Engineers work in various fields and have different responsibilities and specialties. Some engineers design and develop the newest cell phone technologies, new energy efficient air conditioners, or software that decodes a human genome. Engineers are in demand, turnover is low, and candidates can earn high wages with only a bachelor's degree.

Although there is good job growth in the engineering fields, more jobs are being outsourced to foreign countries such as India and China where engineers work for lower wages. There will be job opportunities in the private sector, but more stable employment will exist in government agencies.

Education and Training

Engineers must earn a bachelor's degree in an engineering specialty before getting a job, but some research jobs require candidates with master's degrees. Private practice engineers must be licensed. Because technology is constantly evolving, continuing education is important.

A bachelor's degree in engineering is necessary for almost all entry-level positions. Some candidates with degrees in science or math may qualify for entry-level positions. The most popular programs are civil engineering, mechanical, electrical, and electronics, but engineers trained in one field can work in related ones. This way, employers can meet staffing needs when qualified candidates are scarce. As a result, engineers can move to a specialty that interests them or has better job prospects. Most engineering programs have a concentration of engineering courses with additional courses in math and the biological and physical sciences. Most programs have lab or computer training requirements.

Earning a master or doctoral degree is essential for engineering faculty positions and some research and development programs, but is not required for the majority of entry-level engineering jobs. Many engineers that earn their bachelor's degree go on to earn their masters degree in engineering. Given the ever increasing level of competition of top engineering positions earning a masters degree is highly recommended.

Engineering Occupations

The following are just a few of the most popular engineering professions.


In 2008, there were about 1.6 million engineers nation wide. Following is the distribution of engineerig professionals by engineering specialty:

Civil engineers 278,400
Mechanical engineers 238,700
Industrial engineers 214,800
Electrical engineers 157,800
Electronics engineers, except computer 143,700
Computer hardware engineers 74,700
Aerospace engineers 71,600
Environmental engineers 54,300
Chemical engineers 31,700
Health and safety engineers, except mining safety engineers and inspectors 25,700
Materials engineers 24,400
Petroleum engineers 21,900
Nuclear engineers 16,900
Biomedical engineers 16,000
Marine engineers and naval architects 8,500
Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers 7,100
Agricultural engineers 2,700
Engineers, all other 183,200
Nearly 40% of engineering jobs were found in manufacturing industries, and another 30% in the scientific, professional, and technical services industries, primarily in engineering, architectural, and related services. Many engineers also worked in the telecommunications, construction, and wholesale trade industries.

Salary Data

Median (8 year of experience): $80,300

25-75 percentile (8 or more years of experience): $73,100-110,000

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