Career Opportunities for Professional Engineers
Engineering is a very important, exciting and lucrative career. Plus, there are lots of excellent career opportunities available for professional engineers. Almost everything people use on a daily basis is the result of the work of one type of engineer or another. Professional engineers conceptualize, invent, design, build, analyze and test materials, structures, machines, products and systems to fulfill specific objectives and requirements while being mindful of the limitations imposed by safety, costs, regulations and practicality. Engineers improve people’s quality of life.
What Is a Professional Engineer
A professional engineer is someone who has completed a four-year engineering degree in college, worked under a licensed, experienced, professional engineer for four years or more, passed two mandatory, intensive, competency examinations, meet any other requirements of their state’s licensure board and qualify to be issued a Professional Engineer license. A Professional Engineer license is the type of credential that can earn a client’s trust, signal the engineer has the skills, knowledge and abilities to handle high levels of responsibility and makes the engineer respected by their colleagues. Being a Professional Engineer is a hard-won achievement and a designation of which a person can be proud.
The Different Disciplines within Engineering
Engineers are individuals who are able to combine their love for and training and education in mathematics, science and technology to produce creative solutions to countless real world problems. While there are over 40 different types of engineering degrees, the field of engineering is broken down into four different major disciplines. They are Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Each of these engineering disciplines has several sub-branches or areas of specialization on which engineers can focus their time, talent and expertise. Some of these sub-branches are in great demand and pay a very good salary.
Percentage of Engineers with a PE License
According to the National Society of Professional Engineers, an estimated 20% of engineers in the U.S. have their Professional Engineer license. The percentage is higher for structural, geotechnical and other sub-disciplines of Civil Engineering.
To retain their PE licenses, engineers must continue to improve their skills by taking continuing education classes throughout their careers and passing a relicensing exam every two years. Many companies don’t require the engineers they hire to have a PE license in order to work for them in the engineering field. However, having a PE license provides an engineer with several important benefits.
Benefits of Having a PE License
While many employers don’t require engineers to have a PE license in order to be hired, having a PE license confers many benefits. They include:
- A PE License Makes Engineers Stand Out
It shows the engineer has met the highest standards of the engineering profession.
- It Means a Higher Salary
Engineering Income and Salary surveys conducted by the National Society of Professional Engineers show engineers with PE licenses have median incomes 5% higher than non-licensees.
- It’s an Advantage in the Hiring Process
Given the choice between two qualified applicants, companies tend to hire the PE licensed engineer for the prestige and other benefits it brings.
- The Ability to Sign and Seal Plans and Drawings
Only licensed Professional Engineers have the ability to be in charge of private sector work and submit sealed plans and drawings.
- The Ability to Work Anywhere Nationwide
Through reciprocity, Engineers can use their PE licenses to work anywhere throughout the U.S.
- Can Officially Use the Title Engineer
Without a PE license, a person cannot officially be called an engineer, be identified on a company’s official documents as an engineer or work as a consultant.
According to the National Society of Professional Engineers website: Licensure is the mark of a professional. It’s a standard recognized by employers and their clients, by governments and by the public as an assurance of dedication, skill and quality.”
Professional Engineer Jobs
A PE license qualifies engineers for high-level jobs in civil, computer, electrical, environmental, mechanical, nuclear, petroleum and structural engineering. Licensed PEs attain technical competence and professionalism and maintain a high level of competence and ethics through continuing education. With a PE license, engineers are qualified to work anywhere nationwide and worldwide. Licensure provides independence, options and flexibility. Only licensed professional engineers are able to offer their services to the public. Licensed engineers can work as consultants, in government, industry or private practice.
Want to know what a typical day in the life of an engineer is like? Watch this video.
Professional Engineer Salary
How much does a Professional Engineer make is a common question people ask. A recent survey found the national average salary in the United States for a Professional Engineer is $102,947.
Engineering is a profession where salaries depend on the engineer’s expertise, reliability and area of specialization. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average salary range for some licensed Professional Engineers is as follows:
Aerospace Engineers: $67,850 to $158,700
Electrical Engineers: $56,490 to $136,690
Mechanical Engineers: $53,640 to $121,530
Computer Engineers: $65,570 to $167,700
Software Engineers: $57,340 to $159,850
Chemical Engineers: $59,470 to $157,160
Materials Engineers: $53,120 to $144,720
Civil Engineers: $59,000 to $133,000
Which Engineering Field Has More Job Opportunities
For people interested in a career in engineering, it’s important to know which branches of engineering offers the most job opportunities. According to labor market data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 1.6 million engineering jobs in the United States. The largest percentage of available engineering jobs is in Civil Engineering. It’s followed mechanical and industrial engineering. Together with electrical engineering they account for two-thirds of the engineering jobs in the U.S.
The Importance of Engineering
Engineering is one of the most important disciplines in the world. Its impact can be seen everywhere. Engineers have been improving people’s standard of living for thousands of years. Their contributions to human civilization are priceless. Engineers use their knowledge and understanding of science, technology and mathematics and their creativity to use natural materials to design and construct much needed structures, systems and devices. Being a licensed, professional engineering is a lucrative, powerful and meaningful career anyone would be proud to pursue.