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Career Information for a Degree in Engineering

Degrees in engineering focus on areas within math and science. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for engineering graduates.

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If you are good with science and math, a career as an engineer if for you. Engineers can work as mechanical, industrial or electrical engineers. Engineering positions require specific training in your particular specialization.

Essential

Engineering degree programs include extensive coursework in math and science. These programs prepare students to specialize in a variety of engineering disciplines, including civil, mechanical, industrial, and electrical engineering.

Career Civil Mechanical Industrial Electrical
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% increase 5% increase* 1% increase* 1% increase*
Median Salary (2015) $82,200* $83,590* $83,470* $93,010*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for an Engineering Degree

Most entry-level engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree, which may take four or more years to complete. Students may consider programs that have earned approval by ABET, Inc., formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. According to ABET, graduating from an accredited program may be required or preferred by licensing boards, graduate schools and employers (www.abet.org). Many programs require students to complete prerequisites in math and science, such as calculus, chemistry and physics, in addition to applied science courses like statics. These courses, along with many of the general education requirements, are often completed in the first two years of a program.

In the final two years, students take engineering courses that vary according to their major. For example, mechanical engineering students take courses in machine systems, while electrical engineering students may explore topics in circuits and electrical principles. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some schools offer 5- or 6-year cooperative programs that alternate between classroom study and work (www.bls.gov).

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Career Options

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and maintain large structures. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, these professionals design bridges, airports and energy systems (www.asce.org). Many concentrations are offered in civil engineering including construction, structural and water resources. Some positions require individuals to organize a budget or be knowledgeable about building codes and government regulations.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS indicates that employment opportunities for civil engineers were expected to increase 8% from 2014-2024. In May 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary of a civil engineer was $82,200.

Mechanical Engineers

The BLS indicates that mechanical engineers specialize in designing and building many forms of machinery, such as tools, robotics and air-conditioning systems. Besides creating new products, they also make improvements to the functionality of existing devices. Mechanical engineers work in many industries, including automotive, defense and energy.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS states that job opportunities for mechanical engineers were expected to increase by 5% from 2014-2024, although mechanical engineers may also find work in other engineering fields. The decline of the manufacturing industry is a factor in the slower-than-average job outlook. In May 2015, the BLS reported an $83,590 median annual salary for this field.

Industrial Engineers

According to the Institute of Industrial Engineers, industrial engineering is the design and evaluation of systems that include people and equipment (www.iienet2.org). These professionals may perform research on an existing system to find areas for improvement. Industrial engineers work in many different industries, such as distribution and manufacturing. The BLS states that many industrial engineers go on to become managers because their work involves issues like employee evaluation and financial considerations.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS indicates that the employment of industrial engineers was expected to increase by 1% from 2014-2024. In May 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for an industrial engineer was $83,470. Many of the highest paying jobs were in energy industries, such as oil and gas extraction and pipeline transportation.

Electrical Engineers

Electrical engineering is the branch that focuses on generating and transmitting electricity. The BLS indicates that electrical engineers often design electrical equipment for use in areas like power generation and communications. Other electrical engineers design the electrical systems for products like computers and navigation systems. These professionals must always be concerned with the danger posed by electricity and ensure that a product or system is safe.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS states that employment opportunities for electrical engineers were expected to increase by 1% from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the median salary for an electrical engineer was $93,010 annually, per the BLS.

Engineering positions require a bachelor's degree. Some fields may also require certification. Students entering this field should concentrate on mathematics and science coursework.

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