The U.S. has approximately 1.6 million engineering jobs that pay $42 per hour in median wages. Civil engineers account for the most jobs of any engineering field (274,000 in 2014), followed closely by mechanical engineers (264,000) and industrial engineers (229,000). Those three engineering jobs, plus electrical engineers and electronics engineers make up two-thirds of the American engineering workforce.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the #1 best career path for a college student interested in engineering is to become a mechanical engineer. Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, build and test various devices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field is expected to grow by 9% between 2016 and 2026, translating to 25,300 new positions. The median salary is $84,190, with a current unemployment rate at 1.1%.
We should all show our gratitude to those mechanical engineers who have made our modern way of life more comfortable, convenient and exciting. The next time you switch on your central air conditioning unit, you can thank Mr. Willis Carrier, an American mechanical engineer who invented the first electrical air conditioning unit in 1902.
And although there are hundreds of people to credit regarding the invention of the automobile, as an estimated 100,000 patents lead to cars as we know them today, Karl Benz patented the three-wheeled motor car, known as the “Motorwagen,” in 1886. It was the first true, modern automobile. Benz also patented his own throttle system, spark plugs, gear shifters, a water radiator, a carburetor and other fundamentals to the automobile. Benz eventually built a car company that still exists today as the Daimler Group.
There are also several other engineering career tracks for college age adults to consider. Here are just a few:
Civil Engineers – Civil engineering continues to reign supreme in the US as an exciting and well paid field. Civil engineers are responsible for the largest and most inspiring buildings, bridges and roads in the world. For example, Eugene Eiffel engineered the famed Eiffel Tower in 1889 for the Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair). Although Eugene Eiffel receives all the credit, it was another civil and structural engineer, Maurice Koechlin, who came up with and perfected the Eiffel Tower concept. Years earlier in 1876, the duo was tapped to address the structural issues associated with designing the Statue of Liberty.
The oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Pyramid of Giza was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years. Hemiunu is believed to be the civil engineer and architect who designed the pyramid as a tomb for the forth dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu.
Aerospace Engineers – Aerospace engineers design primarily aircraft, spacecraft, satellites, and missiles. In addition, they create and test prototypes to make sure that they function according to design.
The U.S. Aerospace and Defense(A&D) industry is the world’s leading innovator and producer of technologically advanced aircraft, space and defense systems and supports one of the largest high-skill and high-wage work forces in the United States.
The average job growth rate for aerospace engineers is 6% per year, which is on par with the national average.
Aerospace engineers are employed in industries whose workers design or build aircraft, missiles, systems for national defense, or spacecraft. Aerospace engineers are employed primarily in manufacturing, analysis and design, research and development, and the federal government.
In 2015, the A&D industry supported nearly 1.7 million jobs in companies producing products and services for the industry’s commercial aerospace and defense manufacturing sectors.
Employment in the industry’s commercial aerospace sub sector, which includes the manufacture of civil, aircraft, rotocraft, space systems, engines and relates subsystems and parts, accounted for 547,000 workers, while the defense and national security subsector, which includes the manufacture of military aircraft, space systems, land vehicles, ships and armaments, accounted for 519,000 workers. Jobs supported by providers of industry-related services including engineering design, wholesale distribution and program management, among others, accounted for an additional 596,000 jobs.
Software Engineers – Software engineering is the fastest growing and one of the hottest career choices of the 21st century. And although it falls outside of traditional engineering labels and tracking statistics, it is considered engineering none the less.
Software engineers/developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.
Their average median pay is $103,560 or $49.79 per hour. The number of jobs in this field is approximately 1,256,200 as of 2016 and the job outlook is 24%, which is much faster than average. The employment number change or increase from 2016 to 2026 is 302,500.
Soft engineers/software developers report the following perks or benefits that come with working as a software engineer.
- Money – income is in top 20% in the US and even better % in the world.
- Location – Software engineers are able to find employment almost anywhere.
- Impact – Sky is the limit, you can literally change the world.
- Reach – Products are used by millions of people.
- Options – Many paths to pursue, choose your own adventure.
- Demand – Shortage of software engineers is probably here to stay for the next 10+ years.
- Business – Easy to start your own service or product business.