Engineers are essential to the advancement of America’s technological leadership, innovation, manufacturing and services which is vital to the country’s economic strength, national defense, and other societal needs. From 2010 to 2020, the projected job growth of all engineering jobs is 11%. However, there are some engineering professions that are anticipated to be thriving above others within this period:
1. Biomedical Engineering
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, biomedical engineering has the highest expected job growth in the entire field of engineering. Jobs in this field are expected to grow 62 percent within the period 2010 to 2020. This demand will be driven by an aging population as well as a growing focus on health issues which will in turn drive demand for better medical devices and equipment designed by biomedical engineers. Private companies will need biomedical engineers to construct new medical equipment and the government will need them to research on ways to combat bioterrorism. The U.S. Patent Office will also need biomedical engineers to create innovative medical devices.
Biomedical engineering is the application of engineering principles and methods to the solution of problems in the life sciences. These engineers develop medical products such as artificial organs, pharmaceuticals, diagnostic instruments and implants. They work in work in manufacturing, universities, hospitals, research facilities of companies and educational and medical institutions, teaching, and government regulatory agencies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that they earn a mean annual wage of $91,200. A bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering is required for almost all entry-level jobs. Alternatively, they can get a bachelor’s degree in a different field of engineering and then either get a graduate degree in biomedical engineering or get on-the-job training in biomedical engineering.
Some of the highest paying markets for bioengineers are: Colorado ($104,550), Minnesota ($103,440), California ($101,570), Virginia ($97,790) and Massachusetts ($96,070).
2. Environmental Engineering
Projections from BLS reports indicate that environmental engineering jobs will grow by 22 percent through 2020. As companies, industries and government agencies must meet environmental standards, there is a high demand for environmental engineers. BLS also credits state and local government concerns about water quality and the efficient use of water as driving factors for this growth. They work in different settings due to the nature of their job.
Environmental engineers implement chemistry and biology to manage environmental issues such as water and air pollution, land resources, recycling, public health and sustainability. They create better ways to recycle refuse and dispose of waste, design projects to prevent and control water and air pollution, as well as strategize on ways to preserve natural resources. Environmental engineers earn a median annual income of $78,740. To become an environmental engineer one must have a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a related field, such as civil, chemical, or mechanical engineering.
The top paying markets for environmental engineers are: Alaska ($108,730), Texas ($100,390), District of Columbia ($99,240), California ($93,520) and Tennessee ($93,000).
3. Civil Engineering
Civil engineering jobs are expected to grow by 19 percent through 2020, adding 51,100 new jobs as published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Aging infrastructure requires civil engineers to manage projects to rebuild bridges, repair roads, and upgrade levees and dams. Additionally a growing population means that water systems must be maintained to reduce or eliminate leaks of drinkable water. More waste treatment plants are also needed to help clean the nation’s waterways. The BLS report projects a pronounced shift toward private sector employment in this field.
Civil engineers design and oversee construction projects and transportation developments. They plan and oversee the development of infrastructure projects such as airports, freeways, bridges, sewer systems, government centers and dams, earning a median annual income of $77,560. Civil engineers generally work indoors in offices though sometimes they spend time outdoors at construction sites so as to monitor operations or solve problems at the site. Civil engineers must complete a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering approved by ABET (formerly Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology).
The best paying markets for civil engineers are: Rhode Island ($97,720), California ($95,750), Texas ($94,790), Alaska ($93,650) and New Jersey ($91,450).
4. Petroleum Engineering
Jobs for petroleum engineers are expected to grow by 17 percent within the period of 2010 and 2020. A major determinant of growth in this sector is oil prices, as higher prices lead to increasing complexity of oil companies’ operations and will require more engineers for each drilling operation. Additionally, job openings will occur as current engineers retire or leave this occupation. The looming shortage could drive hourly rates for petroleum engineers’ sky high. It is anticipated that job opportunities will be excellent as there will be more jobs than qualified candidates. It is one of the fastest growing specialties as jobs have increased 76 percent in the last 10 years.
Petroleum engineers typically design the equipment needed to extract oil and gas from underground reservoirs. Currently, petroleum engineers are the highest paid engineering professionals, earning a median salary of $114,080. They have become hot commodities as new oil and natural gas production sites have opened up across the U.S. Petroleum engineers can enter the workforce with a bachelor’s degree in engineering or petroleum engineering. There are several professions that are similar to petroleum engineers, such as aerospace engineers, architectural engineers, chemical and materials scientists, geoscientists and materials engineers.
The top paying states for petroleum engineers are: Oklahoma ($160,090), Alaska ($159,040), Virginia ($154,810), Texas ($154,160) and Kansas ($138,720).
5. Marine Engineering
Employment of marine engineers is expected to grow 17 percent from 2010 to 2020. The need to design ships and systems to transport energy products, such as liquefied natural gas, across the globe will help to spur employment growth for this occupation. Marine engineers find jobs in different geographical environments, typically near coastal areas. Marine engineers are also beginning to apply their knowledge to power generation as well as oil extraction, designing machinery for offshore drilling.
Marine engineers design, build, and maintain ships from aircraft carriers to submarines, from sailboats to tankers. Their work supports key activities like naval defense, environmental research, international trade and resource extraction. Some of the industries employing the greatest numbers of marine engineers are the federal government, ship and boat building companies as well as deep sea, coastal, and great lakes water transportation firms. To get a job as a marine engineer one must have a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering, naval architecture, or marine systems engineering. The median annual wage is $79,920.
The highest paying markets for this profession are: District of Columbia ($118,240), Pennsylvania ($111,630), Maryland ($109,900), Texas ($106,250) and New Jersey ($92,310).