The word engineer is derived from the Latin roots ingenaire and ingenium, which literally mean “to contrive or devise” and “cleverness.”

One easily could argue that it is an accurate description of the field of engineering, which is filled with talented and creative people who thrive on inventing, designing and exploring the unknown.

Engineers combine scientific knowledge, math and ingenuity in order to find solutions to technical problems within the limitations imposed by cost restrictions, regulations, safety and common sense. They are the masterminds behind the design of materials, structures and systems used by members of society on a daily basis.

Education Requirements

There are certain skills which are necessary in order to be successful in the field of engineering. Engineers must be critical thinkers. They also must possess a strong understanding of math and science.

Depending on the concentration of engineering, there are other specific skills required in order to work in the field. There are 19 disciplines of engineering. They are: aerospace, agricultural, architectural, bioengineering/biomedical, ceramic, chemical, civil, computer, electrical, environmental, fire protection, industrial, manufacturing, mechanical, metallurgical/materials, mineral/mining, nuclear, ocean and transportation.

The minimum education required for working in most engineering disciplines is a bachelor degree. It takes between three and five years to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and the courses required for graduation will be dependent on the concentration of engineering being studied. Regardless of the engineering concentration, all engineers can expect coursework to include a variety of math and science topics.

It is important to select an engineering program that is accredited by ABET, formerly known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. ABET accreditation is required in order for engineers to obtain a professional engineering (PE) license.

Master degree programs also are available in engineering and may be required to work in some engineering fields. In a competitive job market, engineers who possess graduate-level degrees have an advantage over those who possess undergraduate degrees only. Master degree programs in engineering are designed to delve deeper into the technical aspects of engineering, increasing the engineer’s overall knowledge in their respective concentration. Some engineering jobs include management duties, which generally are reserved for engineers who have a graduate-level degree.

Doctorate degrees in engineering emphasize research techniques that are necessary to work in certain engineering concentrations. Those who wish to teach engineering at a college or university generally are expected to have a doctorate in an engineering discipline.

Future Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, annual salaries for engineers vary depending on the concentration of engineering being practiced. Aerospace engineers can expect to earn an average annual salary of $97,480, while civil engineers will earn roughly $77,560.

Demand for qualified engineers continues to grow and is expected to peak at around 14 percent by the year 2020 for all fields of engineering. Civil engineers – who are responsible for creating and maintaining infrastructure – are expected to be in the highest demand, at 19 percent.

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