Why more kids should be Engineers

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In the United States today, over two-thirds of high school graduates attend college.  This should come as no surprise to anyone who is attentive to the changing dynamics of our labor market: specifically, how more and more jobs require a Bachelor’s degree for consideration.

Things are so competitive that some employers require a Bachelor’s degree for even their lowest paying jobs. In one case, a document courier making $10 an hour at an Atlanta law firm needed a 4 year degree just to get in the door.

This is combined with another interesting factor: a lot of college grads struggle to find work.  Even once they are employed, about half of college grads still find themselves working jobs that don’t require a Bachelor’s degree at all.

This sounds like a depressing fate, but it doesn’t have to be the reality for every college grad.  So how can students avoid this outcome?  The answer is clear, and I can tell you in one word: STEM.

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The Hoover Dam (1935) and Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge (2010) are major feats of Engineering

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.  Today, I’m discussing the benefits of a career in Engineering: Specifically how it can be down your alley, to your benefit, and in your reach in ways you never thought of before.

First of all, Engineering is a great career field, and the numbers bear this out – including the one everybody cares about the most: the salary.  So of the top 10 Bachelor’s Degrees that pay the most, 7 of them are in the Engineering field.  The highest has an average starting salary of $96,200 and the lowest has an average starting salary of $60,900.  Not too shabby.

Not only are Engineers paid well, but Engineering degree holders are in high demand across the United States and abroad.  In 2011, while the national unemployment rate hovered around 9%, for engineering degree holders, it was about 2 percent.

One of the most under-appreciated things about an Engineering degree is that it is a great pathway to careers in non-technical fields.  Finance, consulting, management, sales and marketing are just a few of the careers that engineers can be found in, and for good reason.

Engineers make problems go away – pure and simple.  We are trained analytical thinkers that come up with solutions to difficult problems that other folks give up on, or have no clue how to solve in the first place.  We know how to use what we do know to get to the bottom of a complicated situation, and find an answer that we did not know when we started.

Image Credit: Wikimedia

The Saturn V Rocket, which put man on the moon – a major engineering feat of the 20th century

The bottom line is this: Engineers solve problems, we think analytically, and above all else, we know how to learn.

These are skills that prove useful in every career and a whole range of industries, so it’s no surprise that Engineers find careers in various places.

Finally, if you’re looking for job security, Engineering is a great choice.  Consider manufacturing, where any company that makes any product on any appreciable scale needs good Engineers to keep the place running. Those individuals are integral to the success of the business, and their jobs can’t be outsourced.  The same thing applies in a number of other industries as well.

And here’s the best part: If you want to be an Engineer, then Engineering is for you!

Don’t let the idea of having to do math or physics scare you.  With the exception of a few very, very smart people (you know who you are), everyone in Engineering school has a hard time with something.  Nothing worth it in life comes easy, so if you’re determined and willing to work hard, you can make it in Engineering.

To teachers and administrators: Encourage your students.  To parents: Encourage your kids.  To the kids: You can do it. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

So am I biased? Of course! I know firsthand that an Engineering degree gives you gravitas and credibility.  It gives you access to a world of opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach, and it puts you in the rare situation where you are always in demand.

So go for it! Start your journey today, and if you’re not sure which discipline to pursue, take a look at Mechanical Engineering.  I know a guy who did that, and he doesn’t regret it one bit.

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