Career Outlook

Civil Engineers: Quick Facts

  • 2012 Median Pay: $79,340 per year
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Work Experience in a Related Occupation: None
  • On-the-job Training: None
  • Number of Jobs, 2012: 272,900
  • Job Outlook, 2012 – 2022: 20% (Faster than average)
  • Employment Change, 2012 – 22: 53,700

(Source: United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Published on Jan. 8, 2014)

Mechanical Engineers: Quick Facts:

  • 2012 Median Pay: $80,580 per year
  • Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree
  • Work Experience in a Related Occupation: None
  • On-the-job Training / Internships: Yes
  • Number of Jobs, 2012: 258,100
  • Job Outlook, 2012 – 2022: 5% 
  • Employment Change, 2012 – 22: 11,600

(Source: United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Published on Jan. 8, 2014)


Civil Engineering: Nature of the Work

Civil engineers research, develop, design, build and maintain all basic infrastructures such as buildings, roads, rail roads, bridges, dams, tunnels, storm sewers, sanitary sewers, water treatment facilities and so on. Civil Engineers participate in the geotechnical engineering where they design foundations and special issues arising due to natural hazards such as earth quakes, tsunami and flooding. Several civil engineers work with transportation engineering divisions and participate in traffic network design, high way design and traffic planning. Civil engineers with Structural specialization work with design of structural components which involves steel and concrete design. Civil Engineers with water resources and environmental engineering specialization participate in watershed eco system maintenance, water distribution network design, storm sewer design, flood plain development and water quality modeling. Civil Engineers with construction management works as team leads in the project site and manage the resources in an optimal way. Civil Engineers faces lots of design challenges and has tremendous research scopes in all the above mentioned specializations.

Computers assist civil engineers by accurately and efficiently performing computations, and by permitting the modeling and simulation of new designs as well as facilitating changes to existing designs. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is used for design data processing.

Civil engineers work in many industries, and their work varies by industry and function. Civil engineers have the scope to specialize in structural, transportation, water resources and environmental and construction management. This branch of civil engineering is also one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Civil engineering graduates have scope to choose field oriented jobs, traveling jobs, managerial jobs, computer aided design jobs and research positions as per their interest.

Employment and Job Outlook

Employment of civil engineers is projected to grow 20 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. As infrastructure continues to age, civil engineers will be needed to manage projects to rebuild bridges, repair roads, and upgrade levees and dams.

Moreover, a growing population means that new water systems will be required while the aging, existing water systems must be maintained to reduce or eliminate leaks of drinkable water. In addition, more waste treatment plants will be needed to help clean the nation’s waterways. Civil engineers play a key part in all of this work.

The work of civil engineers will be needed for renewable energy projects. Civil engineers prepare the permit documents for these types of projects, verifying that the project will comply with federal, state, and local requirements. With regard to solar energy, these engineers conduct structural analyses for large-scale photovoltaic projects. They also evaluate the ability of solar array support structures and buildings to tolerate stresses from wind, seismic activity, and other sources. For large-scale wind projects, civil engineers often prepare road beds to handle large trucks that haul in the turbines. In addition, they prepare the sites on shore or offshore to make sure that the foundations for the turbines will safely keep the turbines upright in expected environmental conditions.

Although states continue to face financial challenges and may have difficulty funding all the projects that need attention, some of the projects that have been delayed will ultimately have to be completed in order to build and maintain critical infrastructure.

Earnings

The median annual wage for civil engineers was $79,340 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half of the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $51,280, and the top 10 percent earned more than $122,020.

Civil engineers typically work full time, and about 1 in 4 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2012. Engineers who direct projects may need to work extra hours to monitor progress of the overall projects, to ensure that the design meets requirements, and to ensure that deadlines are met.  Although a bachelor’s degree is the typical requirement for entry, applicants who gain experience by participating in a co-op program while in college will have the best opportunities.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Civil Engineers .


Mechanical Engineers: Nature of the Work

Mechanical engineers research, develop, design, manufacture, and test tools, engines, machines, and other mechanical devices. They work on power-producing machines such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines. They also develop power-using machines such as refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, machine tools, material handling systems, elevators and escalators, industrial production equipment, and robots used in manufacturing. Mechanical engineers also design tools that other engineers need for their work. The field of nanotechnology, which involves the creation of high-performance materials and components by integrating atoms and molecules, is introducing entirely new principles to the design process.

Computers assist mechanical engineers by accurately and efficiently performing computations, and by permitting the modeling and simulation of new designs as well as facilitating changes to existing designs. Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) are used for design data processing and for turning the design into a product.

Mechanical engineers work in many industries, and their work varies by industry and function. Some specialize in energy systems; applied mechanics; automotive design; manufacturing; materials; plant engineering and maintenance; pressure vessels and piping; and heating, refrigeration, and air-conditioning systems. Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers may work in production operations in manufacturing or agriculture, maintenance, or technical sales; many are administrators or managers.

Employment

Mechanical engineers held about 258,100 jobs in 2012. More than half of the jobs were in manufacturing “mostly in machinery, transportation equipment, computer and electronic products, and fabricated metal products manufacturing industries. Architectural, engineering, and related services and the Federal Government provided many of the remaining jobs.

Although prospects for mechanical engineers overall are expected to be good, they will be best for those with training in the latest software tools, particularly for computational design and simulation. Such tools allow engineers and designers to take a project from the conceptual phase directly to a finished product, eliminating the need for prototypes. Along those lines, students who can take courses in 3-D printing will also improve their job prospects.

Job Outlook

Employment of mechanical engineers is projected to grow more slowly than the average for all occupations though 2012. Although overall employment in manufacturing industries”where employment of mechanical engineers is concentrated”is expected to decrease slightly, employment of mechanical engineers in manufacturing should increase more rapidly 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 a degree in mechanical engineering often can be applied in other engineering specialties. In addition to job openings arising from growth, many openings should result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force.

Earnings

The median annual wage for mechanical engineers was $80,580 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $52,030, and the top 10 percent earned more than $121,530. Most mechanical engineers work full time, and about one-third worked more than 40 hours a week in 2012.  The median annual wage for mechanical engineers was $80,580 in May 2012

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Mechanical Engineers,  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/mechanical-engineers.htm