Being an engineer is kind of like being an artist: There are so many different specialties and options to pursue. Some engineering fields are booming while others are shriveling up. Here's a peek at some of the fastest growing engineering jobs (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), and what you need to get your foot in the door.
1. Biomedical Engineers
Biomedical engineers have an average salary of $89,960 per year. The field has a growth rate of 27%. That's a lot faster than the average. These experts analyze data and design solutions in the field of biology and medicine with a goal of better patient care. Many biomedical engineers work in universities, research labs, hospitals, government agencies or manufacturing offices. A graduate degree in biomedical engineering and on-the-job training are great pairings for an undergraduate degree.
2. Environmental Engineers
Environmental engineers use principles of soil science, engineering, chemistry and biology to create solutions for environmental issues. There are many niches within the environment engineering industry, such as waste disposal, water control, or air pollution.
You'll find environmental engineers in a plethora of settings, often working with planners and other engineers, all of which contributes to the field growing at a rate of 15% per year. If you choose to become an environmental engineer, you can expect to earn an average of $80,890. To find the right job, it's important to note that work experience is valued almost as much as education.
3. Civil Engineers
The growth rate of the job market for civil engineers is a very respectable 20%. Civil engineers design and construct major infrastructure projects like roads, airports, bridges, tunnels and buildings. Civil engineers tend to split their time between construction sites and their offices. Although a bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement, most employers want an advanced degree for senior positions. The bureau of labor statistics reports an average salary of $79,340 for civil engineers.
4. Petroleum Engineer
A lucrative average salary of $130,280 and "only" requiring a bachelor's degree can make a lot of engineers look twice at a career as a petroleum engineer. This field is projecting a growth rate of 26%, so you should be able to continue to find worthwhile employment if you choose this path.
Petroleum engineers design and build ways to extract gas and oil. Their work is typically done in labs and offices, but there are also outings to drilling sites on a regular basis. Work experience is often valued over advanced degrees.
5. Nuclear Engineers
Although the growth rate for the nuclear engineering job market is slated at only around 9%, this field has high income potential with an average salary of $104,270. Project managers in nuclear engineering are often in charge of researching and developing instruments and systems to maximize nuclear energy. They are also involved in building and maintaining nuclear facilities, which can lead you to work with radioactive materials. Many of the discoveries in nuclear engineering directly benefit the advancement of medical systems and diagnoses.
6. Sales Engineers
If you are an engineer with great people skills, Sales Engineer may be the right role for you. The market has solid growth prospects, forecast at 9%.
Many sales engineers report that selling technology and science equipment to businesses and hospitals is exciting work. Some, however, describe the work as stressful since you may be working on commission. That said, those who thrive in a sales environment can do tremendously well, earning far beyond the average of $91,830 per year with a bachelor's degree.
When considering the right engineering path for you, don't just look at your interests and strengths. You would do well to also consider earning potential and salary to maximize your career path.
About the Author
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.