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Engineers Job Description, Career as a Engineers, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: College

Salary: Median—$91,345 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Engineers are skilled technical professionals who act as a link between design and implementation. They work to develop safe and economical solutions to practical difficulties. Engineers use scientific and mathematical knowledge and create marketable, workable solutions in accordance with the demands of customers, users, and others who benefit from their work. Engineers may be required to invent products, or develop sophisticated features for existing ones. There are a staggering number of specialties for engineering professionals, and depending on the field one chooses, an engineer might have to design and develop aircraft, ships, nuclear plants, automobiles, buildings, chemicals, computers, electrical equipments, and a variety of other machinery.

Apart from developing products, engineers often have to test them and work in the production and maintenance processes. This involves handling technical issues and sorting them out. For instance, an engineer working on the development of a car will also have to be involved in various other procedures. Firstly, the functional requirements of the automobile will have to be specified. Then, the engineer designs and tests the component parts, integrates them to form the final product, evaluates the machine’s safety, effectiveness, reliability, and also estimates expenses.

Most engineers are employed in manufacturing industries, and also in the scientific, professional, and technical services sector.

Education and Training Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in an engineering specialty is the norm for entering the profession. Some engineering jobs may also recruit college graduates with a degree in mathematics or natural science. Those interested in becoming engineers can also opt for two-year or four-year degrees in engineering technology. However, graduates from such programs cannot register as professional engineers with the same terms as those possessing a degree in a specific engineering discipline.

For obtaining faculty jobs or research positions, it is essential to have graduate training. A number of colleges and universities in the U.S. offer 5-year and 6-year master’s degree programs that permit students to gain industry-relevant experience. These qualifications are particularly useful in climbing up the hierarchy within corporations in the private sector.

To work as a professional engineer, one needs to obtain licensure. This is mandatory throughout the United States. In order to obtain a Professional Engineer license, one must be a graduate from an ABET-accredited engineering program, have at least four years of relevant experience, and pass a state examination.

Various professional certifications are also available to engineers. These are mostly offered by professional membership organizations, and prove to be a great help in career advancement.

Getting the Job

Every major industry offers employment to engineers. Going through an internship or a part-time cooperative job is a great way of bettering one’s chances of employment in the industry. One can also attend career fairs or enroll in professional associations that have links with those already working in the field. Networking with professors, classmates, and other friends may also come in handy when looking out for jobs. Also, a lot of organizations recruit entry-level professionals through the Internet and newspaper advertisements, and also campus interviews.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Entry-level engineers mostly work in teams under supervisors. With knowledge and experience, they may move on to working more independently, creating their own designs and taking project-related decisions. Over the years, one may advance to the position of a technical specialist or a supervisor. A degree in management may also be of help when it comes to taking up the position of an engineering manager. Interested individuals may move into sales, or take up jobs as researchers and professors.

Engineers, especially those specializing in civil and environmental engineering, will have better opportunities in the coming ten years. The economic slowdown is not expected to affect those working in developmental or research-related projects.

Working Conditions

Engineers are mostly required to work in clean, well-lit, and comfortable offices, industrial plants, and laboratories. However, those working at mines, construction sites, or other production sites, may have to spend a considerable amount of their time outdoors. Engineers normally have a standard 40 hours work week, but some may have to travel extensively to meet with clients and oversee work at different sites across the country and the world.

Where to Go for More Information

American Society for Engineering Education
1818 N St. NW., Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036

ABET, Inc.
111 Market Pl., Suite 1050
Baltimore, MD 21202

National Society of Professional Engineers
1420 King St.
Alexandria, VA 22314–2794

Earnings and Benefits

The yearly earnings of engineers are largely dependent on their areas of specialization. For instance, as per the data of May 2006, the median annual wage of an agricultural engineer was $66,030, while that of a petroleum engineer was $98,380. The median annual earning for engineers employed in the federal government ranged from $75,144 to $107,546 in 2007.

Engineers across all major industries enjoy a host of benefits including paid leaves and vacations, retirement plans, and insurance coverage.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesEngineering, Science, Technology, and Social Sciences