Engineering is an in-demand career that requires a college degree. Opportunities are more plentiful in some disciplines of engineering than in others. Your level of education and engineering major play a big role in your job prospects.
Associate’s Degrees in Engineering
If you want to have the job title and career of engineer, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree. However, there are opportunities for excellent careers with just a two-year college education in the field of engineering technology. Graduates of these programs are called engineering technicians. The work with the technologies engineers design, installing and maintaining them, troubleshooting when problems arise and implementing that technology into industries like manufacturing and construction.
Associate’s degree programs in engineering technology are specialized, as are careers in this field. Between one-third and two-thirds of an engineering technician’s education is made up of technical content relevant to the chosen branch of engineering.
Some engineering technology roles are in higher demand than others. Environmental engineering technicians have the most positive job outlook, with the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicting a faster than average job growth rate of 13 percent, or 2,200 new jobs, over a decade. For civil engineering technicians, the BLS expects a nine percent increase, resulting in 6,600 new jobs. Job growth for aerospace engineering technicians is on par with the job outlook for all occupations, with an anticipated seven percent increase, or 800 new jobs.
Unfortunately, not all associate’s degrees in engineering technology are in such high demand. The BLS expects a slower than average growth rate of five percent for mechanical engineering technicians, but that will still increase the field by 2,300 new jobs. For electro-mechanical engineering technicians, the prediction is a four percent increase in jobs, or 500 new opportunities. For the larger occupation of electrical and electronics engineering technicians, a slower than average two percent increase should still lead to 2,700 new jobs. There is expected to be little or no change in opportunities for industrial engineering technicians, but the BLS reports that a one percent growth rate could still add 400 new jobs.
Accredited programs in engineering technology include basic laboratory science, algebra, trigonometry and a good deal of specialized coursework in technical content relevant to the discipline.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Engineering
With a bachelor’s degree, you can be an engineer. Completing four years of college studies in engineering qualifies you for entry-level jobs in most engineering disciplines. You can start your career and advance to more challenging roles that offer higher pay and increased job responsibilities without needing an additional degree. Once you have gained enough experience, you can even take the exam to attain your Professional Engineering license, though this credential is not required for many engineering roles.
The highest-paying engineering occupation, petroleum engineer, is also the fastest growing. The BLS expects jobs to grow by a much faster than average rate of 15 percent over a decade, adding 5,100 new jobs to the field. Over the same period, roles for marine engineers and naval architects should rise by 12 percent, or 1,000 jobs. The 11 percent job growth expected in the large occupation of civil engineers could add 32,200 new career opportunities. Similarly, the faster than average 10 percent growth rate for industrial engineers could increase jobs by 25,100. Another large occupation, mechanical engineer, is expected to grow by nine percent and 25,300 jobs, while the nine percent growth expected for health and safety engineers will result in just 2,200 jobs.
The overall growth rate for all engineering occupations is eight percent, and a number of disciplines are expected to grow by exactly that amount. For agricultural engineers, that means just 200 new jobs, according to the BLS. Mining and geological engineers would see an increase of 600 jobs. Roles for chemical engineers would grow by 2,500, and environmental engineering opportunities would rise by 4,500. Careers for electrical and electronics engineers are expected to grow by seven percent, the same rate as all occupations, resulting in 21,300 new jobs. Biomedical engineers, too, are expected to see a seven percent job growth, but in this smaller occupation, that will translate to just 1,500 jobs.
Jobs for aerospace engineers, a high-paying role, are expected to grow by six percent, or 4,200 positions. A five percent growth rate for computer hardware engineers should add 4,000 jobs. The BLS lists just two engineering jobs as having slower than average growth. Roles for nuclear engineers are expected to grow by four percent, or 700 jobs. The two percent growth rate expected for materials engineers should add 400 new jobs.
Manufacturing, engineering services, government entities and scientific research and development are the industries employing the most engineers, according to the BLS.
Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in Engineering
Advanced degrees are in demand in the field of engineering, though whether you should pursue one depends on what you want to do with your career. Engineers may need a master’s or doctoral degree if they want to work in academia, in university research facilities or as educators. Some advanced research roles in industry and with the government also require candidates to have a Ph.D. in engineering.
If your goal is to move up into a senior-level or leadership role in industry, a master’s degree or a Doctor of Engineering might be a better choice. Doctor of Engineering degrees are professional doctorates, unlike the research-focused Ph.D. degree. A master’s degree or a Doctor of Engineering degree program will help you attain advanced technical and prof
A master’s degree may or may not increase your salary. The engineers most likely to see a pay raise from a graduate degree are civil engineers, mechanical engineers, and architectural and engineering managers, according to the BLS.