What Are the Career Prospects for Engineering Graduates?

by | Oct 3, 2022 | Jobs

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Engineers are responsible for creating various structures and products that we use every day. Think roads, appliances, airports…down to your toothbrush.

Engineering is a broad field that splits into different disciplines such as civil, electrical, chemical, and mechanical engineering. Engineering offers wide and varied career prospects although most engineering graduates choose to stick to their engineering specialization and related skills.

Overall, the career prospects for engineers of all stripes are pretty good. Engineering graduates have the opportunity to use their skills and training as a springboard to a wide range of well-paying careers across the globe. Not only is the demand for engineers high but the field commands impressive average salaries.

According to data from U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for engineers is $91,010—more than twice the median wage for all U.S workers. BLS data also predicts that 140,000 new engineering jobs will be created by 2026 in the US alone, which means that the demand for engineering graduates will be high.

Engineers can find employment in various industries. The manufacturing industry employs more engineers than any other industry, with the largest number of jobs being related to the production of computer and electronic products, transportation equipment, and machinery.

Different industries employ different kinds of engineers. Civil, electrical, and health and safety engineers, for instance, work in the building industry to ensure that structures and systems are constructed properly.

Engineers can also find jobs that require an engineering background such as:

  • Architectural and engineering managers
  • Sales engineers
  • Engineering teachers
  • Engineering technicians

If you’re an international student considering an engineering career, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll explore the career prospects for engineering graduates from various disciplines to help you decide, visualize, and plan to optimize your chosen path.

1- Civil Engineers

Median salary: $88,570 per year

Number of jobs in 2020: 309,800

Entry Level Education: Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering

Civil engineers are responsible for designing and overseeing the construction and maintenance of public and private infrastructure works such as roads, bridges, dams, railways, water supply and sewage systems, airports, tunnels, and buildings.

All aspects of putting up a structure fall under the responsibility of an engineer. Civil engineers are, therefore, responsible for planning, designing, surveying, construction management and analysis of structures. Civil engineers may further specialize into fields such as environmental, structural, municipal, transport, and geotechnical.

Since civil engineering is an industry that’s constantly evolving and adapting to the needs and desires of society, the demand for skilled and qualified civil engineers is perpetually high.  As infrastructures age, civil engineers are needed to manage projects for maintenance, rebuilding, and repair.

BLS data projects employment of civil engineers to grow by 8% from 2020 to 2030 – as fast as the average for all occupations. Over the decade, there will be a projected average of about 25,000 openings for civil engineers each year.

Here’s the Payscale career progression vs earnings for civil engineers in the U.S: 

Experience Level Median Salary
Entry-level civil engineer with less than 1 year experience $59,781 based on 1,171 salaries
Early career civil engineer with 1-4 years of experience $64,813 based on 5,238 salaries
Mid-career civil engineer with 5-9 years of experience $77,374 based on 2,842 salaries
Experienced civil engineer with 10-19 years of experience $90,197 based on 1,331 salaries
Late career civil engineer with over 20 years of experience $101,562

 

2- Electrical and Electronic Engineers

Median salary: $103,390 per year

Number of jobs in 2020: 313,200

Entry Level education: Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering

Electrical engineers design, create, and manage electrical systems and equipment to power the world. For instance, they’re responsible for manufacturing of electrical equipment such as power generation equipment, electric motors, communication systems, and radar and navigation systems.

Electrical engineers work in a wide range of industries and are responsible for a staggering number of breakthroughs. With a combined electrical and computer degree, students will have the skills needed to design and develop electrical systems in addition to those involving IT systems.

Electrical engineers can find work in various industries including:

  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Manufacturing
  • Engineering services
  • Telecommunications
  • Utilities and construction
  • Research and development
  • The federal government

Electrical engineers make a relatively high salary. BLS data shows that the median salary for electrical engineers in the US is $103,390 per year.

Demand for electrical engineers is also high. The overall employment of electrical engineers is projected to grow by 7% from 2020 to 2030 – which is about as fast as average for all occupations. Over the decade, data projects that there will be about 22,7700 openings for electrical and electronics engineers each year.

Here’s Payscale data comparing experience level and pay for electrical engineers:

Experience Level Median Salary
Entry-level electrical engineer with less than one year of hands-on experience $68,481 based on 2,135 salaries
Early career electrical engineer with one to four years of experience $73,909 based on 7,970 salaries
Mid-career electrical engineer with 5 to 9 years of experience $86,427 based on 3,840 salaries
Experienced electrical engineer with 10-19 years of experience $100,663 based on 1,940 salaries
Late career electrical engineer with over 20 years of experience $115,452

3- Mechanical Engineers

Median salary: $90,160 per year

Number of jobs in 2020: 299,200

Entry level education: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology

Mechanical engineers are responsible for designing, developing, and creating power producing machines such as internal combustion engines, electric generators, steam and gas turbines, and other power- using machines.

Examples of products and machines that mechanical engineers can design and build include aircraft engines, robots, printers, prosthetic devices, control systems, sensors, fuel cells, compressors, elevators and escalators, and refrigeration and air-conditioning systems.

Mechanical engineers can further specialize into disciplines such as:

  •  Automotive research engineering – focus on the development of automotive vehicles
  • Heating and cooling systems engineering – focus on the development of environmental heating and cooling (thermal sciences).
  • Robotics engineering – focus on creating robots and robotic systems
  • Materials engineering – focus on creating new materials to solve problems in several different engineering fields

The career prospects for mechanical engineers are very positive. According to BLS data, the median annual wage for mechanical engineers was $90,160 in May 2020. Employment for mechanical engineers is projected to grow by 7% from 2020 to 2030 – as fast as the average for all occupations.

Projections show that there will be about 20,200 job openings for mechanical engineers each year, on average, over the decade. To improve your career prospects as a mechanical engineer, its important to stay abreast of advances in technology.

Here’s a breakdown of data from Payscale on median salary vs experience for mechanical engineers in the US: 

Experience Level Median Salary
Entry-level mechanical engineer with less than 1 year experience $64,463 based on 3,609 salaries
Early career mechanical engineer with 1-4 years of experience $70,325 based on 15,195 salaries
Mid-career mechanical engineer with 5-9 years of experience $81,685 based on 6,872 salaries
Experienced mechanical engineer with 10-19 years of experience $93,586 based on 2,716 salaries
Late career mechanical engineer with over 20 years of experience $103,430

4- Industrial Engineers

Median salary: $88,950 per year

Number of jobs in 2020: 292,000

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering

Industrial engineers look for ways to reduce wastefulness in production processes. They create effective systems that integrate personnel, machines, materials, information, and energy in order to produce a product or offer a service. They use mathematical methods and models to create systems that optimize production.

Industrial engineers can work in both technical and managerial positions. They can pursue careers in different industries including:

  • Service industries
  • Manufacturing industries
  • Logistics providers
  • Consulting and engineering services
  • Research and development
  • Wholesale trade

With a median salary of $88,950 per year, a career in industrial engineering is well-paying.

If you’re considering a career as an industrial engineer, you’ll be happy to learn that there’s a rising demand for graduates in this field. According to BLS data, the employment of industrial engineers is projected to grow 14 percent from 2020 to 2030 – faster than the average for all occupations.

Over the decade, projections show that there will be about 23,000 openings for industrial engineers each year, on average.

Here’s Payscale data on median salary vs experience for industrial engineers in the US:

Experience Level Median Salary
Entry-level industrial engineer with less than 1 year experience $62,903 based on 412 salaries
Early career industrial engineer with 1-4 years of experience $68,915 based on 1,801 salaries
Mid-career industrial engineer with 5-9 years of experience $80,321 based on 588 salaries
An experienced industrial engineer with 10-19 years of experience $85,749 based on 230 salaries.
Late career industrial engineer with over 20 years of experience $86,205

 

Other Engineering Disciplines and Their Career Prospects

Since engineering is a broad field with many different disciplines, it’s almost impossible to exhaustively explore the career prospects of each individual discipline in one sitting.

With that in mind, we have summarized the career prospects of other engineering disciplines -according to BLS data – in the table below:

Engineering Discipline Median Salary Job Outlook Number of Openings Per Year (2020-2030)
Petroleum engineers $137,330 per year 8% (as fast as average) 2,100
Environmental engineers $92,120 per year 4% (slower than average) 4,000
Aerospace engineer $118,610 per year 8% (as fast as average) 4,000
Computer hardware engineers $119,560 per year 2% (slower than average) 4,500
Biomedical engineers $92,620 per year 6% (as fast as average) 1,400
Nuclear engineers $116,140 per year -8% (decline) 900
Materials engineers $95,640 per year 8% (as fast as average) 1,800
Mining and geological engineers (including mining safety engineers) $93,800 per year 4% (slower than average) 400
Health and safety engineers $94,240 per year 6% (as fast as average) 1,700
Marine engineers and naval architects $95,440 per year 4% (slower than average) 500
Agricultural engineers $84,410 per year 5% (slower than average 100

 

More Information on Engineering Career Prospects 

To read more about job prospects engineering, you can explore the following resources:

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