Career Information for a Degree in Engineering Related Fields

Oct 08, 2019

A bachelor's degree in engineering is the foundation for a career as a mechanical engineer, civil engineer, industrial engineer or electrical engineer. Many colleges and universities allow students to specialize in a specific type of engineering. Commonly, this means a degree in a specific discipline, such as a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering; however, some schools offer interdisciplinary Bachelor of Science in Engineering programs where students can choose electives that align with their interests.

Essential Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), engineers solve problems through math and science (www.bls.gov). Many engineers work in product development and have an active role throughout the entire development and production process. Engineers may oversee other professionals, such as draftsmen, technicians and construction workers.

Career Titles Mechanical Engineer Civil Engineer Industrial Engineer Electrical Engineer
Education Requirements Bachelor's Bachelor's Bachelor's Bachelor's
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 4% 6% 8% 5%
Median Salary (2018)* $87,370 $86,640 $87,040 $96,640

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education & Degree Requirements

Most engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree. During the first two years of a program, students complete engineering prerequisites in math and science, along with foundational engineering coursework and general education requirements. The final two years are devoted to engineering courses within a specialty such as mechanical or civil engineering. While in school, many engineering students perform cooperative internships to gain industry work experience.

Career Options

Students interested in math and science may consider engineering programs. Within the general field of engineering, many disciplines exist including mechanical, civil, industrial and electrical engineering. Most employers require a bachelor's degree in an engineering related discipline. These bachelor's programs prepare graduates for a multitude of careers.

Mechanical Engineer Overview

Mechanical engineers design devices ranging from engines to power tools. They may also test an existing device and look for ways to make improvements. According to O*Net Online, some mechanical engineers work in equipment maintenance and research failures to find solutions (www.onetonline.org). Because of their diverse skill set, mechanical engineers may cross over into other engineering disciplines.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS indicates that employment opportunities for mechanical engineers were expected to increase by 4% from 2018 to 2028, which is about as fast as the projected average for all U.S. jobs in that timeframe. The BLS predicted that new opportunities may exist in emerging industries, such as renewable energy. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the median salary for mechanical engineers was $87,370.

Civil Engineer Overview

O*Net Online defines civil engineers as the individuals who design large structures and facilities, such as bridges, dams and buildings. They may also work to maintain structures already in existence. Civil engineers work in many specialties, such as water resources and transportation. These individuals may also inspect or survey construction sites to ensure that projects are on track.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS states that employment for civil engineers was expected to increase by 6% from 2018 to 2028. Growth will be spurred by the need to make repairs to infrastructure and design new structures for the growing U.S. population. Similar to mechanical engineers, emerging industries may provide additional openings. In May 2018, the BLS reported that civil engineers' median salary was $86,640.

Industrial Engineer Overview

Industrial engineers are concerned with the production process and finding more efficient methods to produce goods or services. The BLS indicates that these engineers consider production factors, such as technology and methods of business organization. Industrial engineers may consider issues related to employees, including work load and safety. Their work may concern a single workplace or an entire supply chain.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS reports that employment of industrial engineers was expected to grow by 8% from 2018 to 2028. Because most companies are concerned with productivity, industrial engineers can find work in a variety of industries. In May 2018, the BLS indicated that the median annual salary for industrial engineers was $87,040. Many of the top-paying industries were related to energy production.

Electrical Engineer Overview

Electrical engineers design systems that facilitate the transportation or conversion of electricity. The BLS states that these engineers have traditionally worked in the supply and generation of power, but some also work in equipment manufacturing. Electrical engineers may make modifications that increase carrying capacity or efficiency of a system. O*Net Online reports that these professionals use advanced instrumentation on the job, including signal generators and spectrometers.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS indicates that employment opportunities for electrical engineers were expected to increase 5% from 2018 to 2028. Job growth will occur as professionals and firms look to these professionals for help with electronic systems. In May 2018, the BLS reported that the median salary for electrical engineers was $96,640.

A career in engineering typically requires completion of a four-year degree in engineering, and strong math and science skills. Engineers can specialize as electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, civil engineers or industrial engineers. Mechanical engineers focus on developing mechanical equipment, while electrical engineers work on systems that involve converting or transporting electricity; civil engineers work on buildings, and industrial engineers focus on improving production.

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