With our economy battling some difficult times, college graduates sometimes question whether their intended degrees are a waste of time. Why should they continue their education if they cannot get a job in the field they intended? The good news is that the class of 2012 has a reason to be optimistic, especially in the fields of science and engineering. Last year, the unemployment rate for engineers was less than 2 percent, a promising indicator of job security.
According to Lawrence Jacobson of the National Society of Professional Engineers, the job outlook for engineers is very good. Joined by many other industry watchers, he expects the demand for professionals in the fields of science and engineering to grow: especially in areas of aerospace, biomedical, electrical, computer, environmental, automotive, petroleum, and mechanical engineering. This positive outlook is derived from our growing need to find solutions to technically challenging problems facing our society. Global warming, pollution, shortage of clean water, and a demand for faster computing are a few of the most common problems that need quality engineers and scientists to solve them. And there are simply not enough engineers and scientists. In fact, only 4.5 percent of all college undergraduates graduate with degrees in engineering, according to the National Science Foundation. This is good news for those remaining in the field, as it means less competition.
Thanks to a bounce-back from the auto industry, manufacturing is another area that is in the need of engineers. Also in high demand are electrical engineers who are needed to work on electrical systems, power plants, and power transmissions. The job outlook for software engineers is also high in Florida. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 30% increase in the need for software engineers. In Orlando, the average salary for a software engineer is $54,892, according to salary.com, but can be closer to $90,000 or higher, depending on education and experience.
A college degree is needed for a career in Engineering. An engineering license, however, is not needed to obtain a career. Nonetheless, a professional engineering license is critical for career advancement. This is because advancements in technology are constantly changing. An employee, who was a valuable asset when initially hired, is at risk for losing his or her competitive edge as younger employees (who have been educated about more current technologies) start to enter the workforce. That is why it is imperative that individuals in the fields of science and engineering keep their licenses current and stay abreast of changing technology. Moreover, engineers who are considering grad school would be wise to think about a dual degree, such as a Master’s in Business Administration.
The Florida Institute of Technology (or Florida Tech) was rated as one of America’s top colleges by Forbes Magazine for 2011. The school’s curriculum is focused mostly on the fields of science and engineering. Florida Tech’s graduates contribute to the evolving success of Florida’s science and engineering firms, especially those on the Space Coast.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveyed various employers who said that they intend to hire approximately 9 percent more graduates from the class of 2012 than they did from last year’s class of 2011. Not only will more graduates find employment but they will also be earning more in terms of salary. The NACE expects this year’s graduates to earn an average salary that is 6 percent higher than last year’s. Some of the highest salaries will be offered to students who will earn engineering degrees. Engineering students are seeing the highest salary offers, rising almost 3 percent from last year’s average. An entry-level engineer should expect to earn an average of $29.54 per hour in the state of Florida, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
The following are examples of careers in the science and engineering field as well as their respective hourly wages for Florida residents from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
If careers in the fields of science and engineering are of your interest, they are certainly worth exploring. Career choices are quite broad, but most of them are best suited for individuals who did well in the subjects of math and science in high school. Detail oriented individuals should have an easy time finding an engaging focus area of which to pursue an education and career in engineering in the state of Florida.