Industry and economic growth helps drive demand for engineers

Engineering professionals are starting to realize the benefits of a rebounding economy in some industries and regions of the country.

While sluggish overall manufacturing still poses a challenge to widespread engineering and technical job growth, upticks in specific industries such as automotive, aerospace, telecom and energy are driving increased demand is for mid-to-senior-level engineering talent. Compensation in the field is holding steady, with some engineering candidates with specialized skills seeing above-average salary increases, according to Adecco’s 2013 Salary Guide.

The trends in increased hiring also have a regional focus, with much of the “Big Oil” related hiring in Texas, Oklahoma and surrounding states. Prospects are strong for mechanical and project engineers in the oil and gas industry as companies increase production and update their facilities, while also looking for new ways to use petroleum products. The industry is also seeing increased opportunities globally as well  as a rise in “green” jobs related to solar and wind energy. In response to improved career prospects, the University of Houston recently reported that enrollment in its engineering program has seen a 40 percent increase.

Meanwhile a recovering automotive industry is increasing the need for engineers in Michigan, Ohio and other states in which the industry has a strong presence and influence. Many senior-level engineers are willing to relocate for the right situation. For instance, some automotive industry veterans are returning to the Great Lakes region where they previously lived, but were forced to relocate because of the steep downturn in auto business during the recession that officially ended in June 2009.

Hot jobs in the engineering and technical space include:

Mechanical engineers skilled at designing, developing and testing all aspects of mechanical components, equipment and machinery.  

Electrical engineers who design, test, install and maintain large-scale electronic equipment.

Process engineers adept at designing and implementing manufacturing processes, equipment and plants to achieve production goals.

Validation engineers specializing in ensuring that machinery and processes are working as accurately and precisely as possible.

Looking at 2013 and beyond, the engineering and technical vertical is expected to see steady, but not spectacular, growth. A recently released report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth of all engineering occupations over the 2010-2020 period at 11%,  which is consistent with the average for all occupations. Domestically, the field will continue to face the challenge of increased globalization of engineering and technical expertise, which provides companies with options that include offshoring and outsourcing.

Of the top 20 fastest growing professions identified by the Bureau, the only engineering or computing specialty to make the list was biomedical engineering, with a sizzling 62% employment increase projected over the 2010-2020 period. Biomedical engineering, the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology, came in third on the list of fastest growing professions.

Ultimately, the engineering job market will remain closely tied to the trajectory of the overall economy.  Job candidates with specialized skills and a willingness to relocate, or explore possibilities in industries that are outperforming the broader economy, should see their career prospects improve in 2013 and beyond. 

For more information, please contact your local Adecco Engineering & Technical representative today.