The engineering industry encompasses a broad spectrum of specializations, such as aerospace engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering and mechanical engineering. Read on to see job prospects, degree programs and skills needed.
Is Engineering for Me?
In general, engineering can be described as the applied use of mathematics to solve a variety of real-world problems. There are many engineering specializations, which include aerospace and aeronautical engineering, agricultural engineering, architectural engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering, structural engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering and industrial engineering. Each branch of engineering has its own unique set of skills that need to be learned and problems that need to be solved. Math skills are extremely important for engineers because measurements must be precise. They also need excellent communication skills, since engineers generally work with a team.
The job outlook for engineers varies by area of specialization. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that electrical engineers would see employment growth of 5% from 2012 to 2022. Aerospace engineers should experience a 7% increase during that same period of time (www.bls.gov). Biomedical engineers could see a large job increase of 27%. Salaries will also vary between industries and depending on what education is required.
How Can I Become an Engineer?
To enter the field of engineering, a bachelor's degree is typically required. Degrees are available in engineering, but science and math majors may also qualify for entry-level engineering professions. A doctoral degree in engineering is required to pursue a career in research.
You might choose an engineering degree program that's been accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Some undergraduate engineering programs give students an overview of specializations before asking them to concentrate on a specific area, while others offer areas of emphasis from the first year. Students can expect to take courses such as engineering risk, systems engineering, environmental engineering and economics.
A professional master's degree program could allow for better job prospects. Degrees are available in specialty areas such as structural engineering, environmental engineering and civil engineering. Doctoral programs in engineering generally prepare students for careers in academia and research.