Top 5 Engineering Disciplines


What is Engineering?

When you walk by a street in your town or city, you see many different pieces of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, buildings and automobiles. All of these things share a common link between each other and this is the fact that someone engineered them. What does this mean?

The American Engineers’ Council for Professional Development defines engineering as “the creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes, or works utilizing them singly or in combination; or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design; or to forecast their behavior under specific operating conditions; all as respects an intended function, economics of operation and safety to life and property.”

In essence, the process of engineering is one that creates something that is used by people for some purpose. Someone who partakes in this process professionally is known as an engineer.

Methodology of the List

This is a list of the top five engineering disciplines based on the career prospects for the discipline in near future. These prospects are obtained from the United States of America’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook. This is a comprehensive guide published yearly that examines the potential for growth for all occupations in the United States.

The List

5. Mining and geological engineers are expected to see employment growth that is 15 percent greater than the average expected job growth during the 2008-2018 period (the decade used for economic projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). These engineers saw a long period of decline in the demand for their services but this trend is now seeing a reversal. This is because there should be strong growth in the demand for minerals in the next decade. Another factor creating more job openings from new engineers is that many current mining engineers are nearing retirement age.

4. Petroleum engineers should have employment growth that is 18 percent faster than the average expected job growth for all occupations. Higher oil prices, spawned by the increased scarcity of the resource, lead to a higher demand for petroleum engineers. Petroleum engineers will be required to create new ways to extract oil from existing sources as well as finding new sources for the resource. The demand for petroleum engineers should outpace the amount of students that are looking to become petroleum engineers, making for better work opportunities.

3. Civil engineers are expected to have employment growth of 24 percent over the projections decade. Expanding population in the United States, both in terms of the number of people and the locations where they settle, will increase the demand for civil engineers and the infrastructure they create. There is also a need to improve the nation’s infrastructure, which will play a role in increasing demand for civil engineers.

2. Environmental engineers should have employment growth of 31 percent relative to the average for all occupations. The shift to a ‘green-minded’ population that is focused on increasing environmental regulations and reducing hazards to the environment is mainly responsible for this increase in demand. The concern to prevent problems before they start rather than controlling them when they arise causes the need to engineer products that do not have serious environmental consequences.

1. Biomedical engineers are projected to have the highest growth relative to the average for 2008-2018 at 72 percent. The aging of the United States’ population and the increased focus towards public health will create an extremely high demand for better medical devices and equipment. A concern for cost-effectiveness in the creation of these products should also give rise to more employment opportunities in the field.

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