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Career Outlook

Discover what types of engineers will be needed in the future

Turnover in engineering is expected as many older engineers begin retiring. Employers will seek the best and brightest new engineers entering various fields.

Outlook for chemical engineers

  • Approximately 31,000 chemical engineers were employed in 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Chemical engineers are expected to have average employment growth though 2014
  • Among manufacturing industries, pharmaceuticals may provide the best opportunities for jobseekers. However, most employment growth for chemical engineers will be in service industries such as scientific research and development services, particularly in energy and the developing fields of biotechnology and nanotechnology

Outlook for biomedical engineers

  • Approximately 14,000 biomedical engineers were employed in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Biomedical engineers are expected to have 21 percent employment growth through 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • The aging of the population and the focus on health issues will drive demand for better medical devices and equipment designed by biomedical engineers. Along with the demand for more sophisticated medical equipment and procedures, an increased concern for cost-effectiveness will boost demand for biomedical engineers, particularly in pharmaceutical manufacturing and related industries. A graduate degree is recommended or required for many entry-level jobs.

Outlook for civil engineers

  • Approximately 237,000 civil engineers were employed in 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Civil engineers are expected to see average employment growth through 2014
  • Spurred by general population growth and an increased emphasis on infrastructure security, more civil engineers will be needed to design and construct safe and higher capacity transportation, water supply, and pollution control systems, as well as large buildings and building complexes. They also will be needed to repair or replace existing roads, bridges, and other public structures

Outlook for sustainability design and environmental engineers

  • Approximately 54,000 sustainability and environmental design engineers were employed in 2006.
  • The fields of sustainability and environmental design are separate but have a significant cross-over. They are expected to have 25 percent employment growth through 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • More environmental and sustainability engineers will be needed to comply with environmental regulations and to develop "green" methods and buildings as we progress into the next decade. A shift in emphasis toward preventing problems rather than controlling those that already exist, as well as increasing public health concerns resulting from population growth, are expected to spur demand for sustainability and environmental engineers. Because of this employment growth, job opportunities should be good even as more students earn degrees.

Outlook for computer software engineers

  • Approximately 675,000 computer software engineers were employed in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Computer software engineers are in great demand. This field will be one of the fastest growing through 2012

Outlook for electrical and electronics engineers

  • Approximately 299,000 electrical and electronics engineers were employed in 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Electrical and electronics engineers should have favorable employment opportunities through 2014
  • Prospects should be particularly good for electrical engineers working in engineering services firms providing technical expertise to other companies on specific projects
  • Photonics is a specialized, but rising area of opportunity due to increased uses for laser technology in both the military and commercial communications and computer industries

Outlook for mechanical engineers

  • Approximately 226,000 mechanical engineers were employed in 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Through 2014, employment of mechanical engineers in manufacturing should increase as the demand for improved machinery and machine tools grows and as industrial machinery and processes become increasingly complex. Also, emerging technologies in biotechnology, materials science, and nanotechnology will create new job opportunities for mechanical engineers
  • Additional opportunities for mechanical engineers will arise because the skills acquired through earning a degree in mechanical engineering often can be applied in other engineering specialties

Outlook for Environmental Engineers

  • Approximately 49,000 environmental engineers were employed in 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Employment of environmental engineers is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through 2014. More environmental engineers will be needed to comply with environmental regulations and to develop methods of cleaning up existing hazards
  • A shift in emphasis toward preventing problems rather than controlling those that already exist, as well as increasing public health concerns, also will spur demand for environmental engineers

Outlook for Materials Engineers

  • Approximately 21,000 materials engineers were employed in 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Materials engineers will be needed to develop new materials for electronics, biotechnology, and plastics products. Growth should be particularly strong for materials engineers working on nanomaterials and biomaterials
  • As manufacturing firms contract for their materials engineering needs, employment growth is expected in professional, scientific, and technical services industries

Outlook for Aerospace engineers

  • Approximately 76,000 aerospace engineers were employed in 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Although increases in the number and scope of military aerospace projects likely will generate new jobs, increased efficiency will limit the number of new jobs in the design and production of commercial aircraft. Even with slow growth, the employment outlook appears favorable for aerospace engineers through 2014