Career Information for a Degree in General Engineering

Degrees in general engineering typically cover engineering basics in addition to a specialty area or technical field of study. Find out about the curricula for these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary for general engineering program graduates.

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Career options for individuals with a general engineering degree include being a sales engineer, industrial engineer or an environmental engineer. These positions require an engineering degree, and some employers may prefer industrial engineers and environmental engineers who are licensed.

Essential Information

General engineering bachelor's and master's degree programs are geared towards students who want to take on an interdisciplinary course of study that incorporates engineering classes with coursework in an area of interest. Curriculum in an undergraduate general engineering program, for example, provides students with a firm foundation in physics, calculus and differential equations. Students also complete core engineering courses in topics like data analysis and engineering design before studying a specialization area suited to their interests or career goals. This coursework can center around topics ranging from computer science, construction and robotics to architectural and mechanical engineering. Master of Science programs in general engineering are also offered to students interested in pursuing this type of interdisciplinary study at the graduate level. Outlined below are just a few of the career options available to graduates of these general engineering programs:

Career Titles Sales Engineer Industrial Engineer Environmental Engineer
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree; master's degree required for advancement
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% 1% 12%
Median Salary (2015)* $97,650 $83,470 $84,560

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Graduates of general engineering degree programs can work in positions that require a strong knowledge of math, physics and design systems. The project management and problem-solving skills students develop during their time in these programs can also be used to pursue employment in non-technical fields, such as business or health care. Some sample job options are profiled below:

Sales Engineers

Sales engineers use their technical expertise to pitch scientific and technical services to potential clients, make product recommendations or help customers troubleshoot problems with equipment. Typical requirements for these positions include an engineering bachelor's degree, wither in general engineering or one of the engineering specialties. Once hired, sales engineers usually shadow more experienced employees to gain sales experience.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment of sales engineers to increase 7% during the 2014 to 2024 decade. This job growth was expected to result from the increasing availability of technologically advanced products. As of May 2015, sales engineers earned median salaries of $97,650.

Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers are responsible for improving an organization's efficiency, whether by reducing waste or increasing productivity in the areas of staffing, supply chain management or manufacturing. A general engineering major is just one of the undergraduate degree options that can prepare individuals for a career in this field. Degree programs in mechanical and industrial engineering can also qualify graduates for entry-level employment.

Licensure is recommended for industrial engineers working with government contractors. To obtain engineering licensure, candidates must earn a bachelor's degree from a school approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). They must then pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and work for four years as an engineer in training (EIT) before sitting for the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. Candidates who pass the PE exam obtain licensure and the Professional Engineer (PE) designation. Engineers often have to maintain licensure by regularly earning continuing education credits.

Employment opportunities for industrial engineers were expected to increase by 1% from 2014 to 2024. Their median salary was $83,470 in 2015, according to the BLS.

Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers work to improve or protect the health of the environment. They might assess the impacts of environmental hazards, develop or enforce government regulations and design ways to reuse and recycle waste. Graduates of general engineering bachelor's degree programs are qualified for entry-level positions in this field. As with industrial engineers, it's also recommended that these professionals pursue PE licensure.

The BLS projected a 12% job growth for environmental engineers from 2014 to 2024. Employment opportunities were expected to result from local, state and federal governments' demand for environmental engineers who can oversee site cleanup and wastewater treatment operations. As of May 2015, these engineers earned a median salary of $84,560.

With a degree in general engineering, there are many career options. A general engineering degree requires strong math, design and physics skills, and these skills can be applied to work as an environmental engineer, industrial engineer or a sales engineer. The BLS expects job prospects to be strongest for sales engineers and environmental engineers through 2024.

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