The best engineering jobs but the salaries are peanuts? Well read on and plan your career shift.
When one exclaims that line among a group of engineers coming from different fields, it is most likely to trigger several reactions. Everyone in that diverse set is obliged to defend his or her specialization, which often ends up with an endless debate.
That’s because choosing a job and defining it to be the best is subjective, with no ideal way to determine the best job overall. There is no standard especially if the bases are one’s experiences. Each has his or her own preferences of an engineering field.
But the U.S. News, through their own selection method, has provided the Best Jobs rankings for 2016. Conducted early in 2016, it aims to provide aspiring engineers an intuitive comparison of the professions based on important factors: salary, the number of expected openings, advancement opportunities and career fulfilment.
In engineering, there are lots of subfields. To choose which jobs will be included in the list, the U.S. News used the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on jobs with the greatest hiring demand, or those with the highest projected number of openings from 2014 to 2024.
After listing, the top picks for engineering jobs were analyzed to be included in the 2016 Best Jobs. They were ranked according to their overall score, which is calculated from seven component measures with these corresponding weights: median salary (30%), employment rate (20%), 10-year growth volume (15%), 10-year growth percentage (15), job prospects (10), stress level (5%), and work-life balance (5%).
Here are the results. Lo and behold, the 7 best engineering jobs:
#7 in Best Engineering Jobs: Architect (5.7/10)
7,800 Projected Jobs | $74,520 Median Salary | 5.1% Unemployment Rate
Although not technically considered as engineers, architects have a close relationship with buildings and structures. Their job is to combine creativity and practicality and to produce projects that are altogether aesthetically pleasing and safe.
This specialization had its lowest point between 2009 and 2011 but is now slowly recovering. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be a 7% employment growth between 2014 and 2024.
#6 in Best Engineering Jobs: Environmental Engineering Technician (5.9/10)
1,900 Projected Jobs | $48,170 Median Salary | 5.2% Unemployment Rate
The job of environmental engineering technicians can either be in the field or laboratory. In the field, they collect air or water samples for pollution testing. While in the lab, they test such samples. These technicians often collaborate with environmental engineers.
This sector is expected to grow at a rate of 10% within 2014 and 2024 producing 1,900 new environmental engineering technician jobs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects.
#5 in Best Engineering Jobs: Civil Engineer (6.5/10)
23,600 Projected Jobs | $82,050 Median Salary | 2.8% Unemployment Rate
Other than being one of the oldest engineering disciplines, civil engineering is also one of the broadest engineering fields. This profession covers structural, geotechnical, materials science, environmental, earthquake, water resources, surveying, transportation, urban planning, construction management and many more. It is responsible for the many engineering wonders in the physical world.
Civil engineers have many options for employment. They can hold administrative positions, work in design and construction companies, or be involved in the academe, either in the government or the private sector.
As long as there is a need to build structures and provide efficient systems under their scope, civil engineers will always be in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected 8% employment growth for civil engineering between 2014 and 2024, opening 23,600 jobs.
#4 in Best Engineering Jobs: Environmental Engineer (6.8/10)
6,800 Projected Jobs | $83,360 Median Salary | 0.9% Unemployment Rate
This engineering job is often associated with environmentalists. Although related with each other, environmental engineers are not merely about the Earth Day and environmental consciousness.
They are about working to prevent, control or remediate any hazards to all aspects of the natural environment using engineering expertise. The work covers waste disposal, erosion, and water and air pollution, among others.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 6,800 jobs will be generated from this field at a rate of 12.4% from 2014 to 2024.
#3 in Best Engineering Jobs: Mechanical Engineer (6.9/10)
14,600 Projected Jobs | $83,060 Median Salary | 1.5% Unemployment Rate
All the machineries and equipment in manufacturing plants, heating and cooling systems, aircraft, watercraft, automobile, and weapons are the result of the hardwork of mechanical engineers. They all underwent design, analysis, manufacturing, testing, and maintenance done by those who have studied mechanics, kinematics, thermodynamics, and materials science, while using tools like computer-aided design and product life cycle management.
The new century has introduced innovations, like 3D printing and carbon fiber composites, which widened the scope of mechanical engineering.
With the continuing demand for the understanding of mechanical systems, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field is expected to grow by 5% between 2014 and 2024. This will generate 14,600 new jobs.
#2 in Best Engineering Jobs: Biomedical Engineer (7.1/10)
5,100 Projected Jobs | $86,950 Median Salary | 2.6% Unemployment Rate
Biomedical engineering is a profession that researches and develops solutions to biological and medical problems. Applications of this field cover a wide array, often overlapping with the work of doctors and therapists. The products of biomedical engineers are mainly prosthetic body parts, surgical devices and systems, implanted devices, diagnostics, imaging methods, and physical therapy devices.
Between 2014 to 2024, the field of biomedical engineering will open 5,100 jobs at a rate of 23% as predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is much faster than the average growth rate for all jobs.
#1 in Best Engineering Jobs: Cartographer (7.4/10)
3,600 Projected Jobs | $60,930 Median Salary | 3.0% Unemployment Rate
Most people think that cartography, which is the science of drawing maps, has died after the advent of technology. The common notion is that cartographers like Ptolemy and Leonardo da Vinci only exist when there’s a need to plot physical maps. But the truth of the matter is that such engineering field is widely used in creating interactive maps in today’s age, for cloud-based services, open source resources, and improved user interface and user experience design.
The best engineering job in 2016 uses both analysis and creativity. The former is to pour data in finding trends and patterns; while the latter, to visualize that data in a design.
Cartographers are expected to have a job growth of 29% from 2014 to 2024, creating 3,600 new jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.