Engineer Career Outlook

Employment of materials engineers is expected to grow 9 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations.

Materials engineers will be needed to design uses for new materials both in traditional industries, such as aerospace manufacturing, and in industries focused on new medical or scientific products.

Materials engineers are in demand in growing fields such as nanotechnology and biomedical engineering. They find new uses for these technologies, which can help to address problems with consumer products, industrial processes, and medical needs. Because the work of materials engineers is closely connected to organizations’ research and development, firms will likely seek to draw upon the skills of materials engineers to stay at the forefront of their respective industries.


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Engineer Career Outlook

Employment of chemical engineers is expected to grow 6 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Demand for chemical engineers’ services depends largely on demand for the products of various manufacturing industries. Employment will be sustained by the ability of these engineers to stay on the forefront of new, emerging technologies.

Many chemical engineers work in industries that have output sought by many manufacturing firms. Therefore, employment is tied to the state of overall manufacturing in the United States.

However, chemical engineering is also migrating into new fields, such as nanotechnology, alternative energies, and biotechnology, which will likely increase demand for engineering services in many manufacturing industries.

Job Prospects


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Engineer Career Outlook

Employment of mechanical engineers is expected to grow 9 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. Job prospects may be best for those who stay abreast of the most recent advances in technology. Mechanical engineers can work in many industries and on many types of projects. As a result, their growth rate will differ by the industries that employ them.

Mechanical engineers should experience demand in architectural, engineering, and related services as companies continue to hire temporary engineering services as a cost-cutting measure rather than keeping engineers on staff. Mechanical engineers will also be involved in various manufacturing industries—specifically, transportation equipment and machinery manufacturing. They will be needed to design the next generation of vehicles and vehicle systems, such as hybrid-electric cars and clean diesel automobiles. Machinery will continue to be in demand as machines replace more expensive human labor in various industries. This phenomenon in turn should drive demand for mechanical engineers who design industrial machinery.

Mechanical engineers often work on the newest industrial pursuits. The fields of alternative energies, remanufacturing, and nanotechnology may offer new directions for occupational growth.


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Employers expect to hire more college graduates from the class of 2014 than from the class of 2013, shows an update to the National Association of Colleges and Employers job outlook survey out Wednesday.

Employers plan to hire 8.6% more graduates this year than from the class of 2013. Though NACE says that rate of increase is about the same as in past years.

“Even though it’s positive, we consider it somewhat flat,” says Andrea Koncz, employment information officer for NACE. “It’s not going gangbusters or anything.”

So what’s the recipe for job success? Bachelor’s degrees are most in demand. And business, engineering and accounting majors — you are a hot commodity. Nearly 70% of the employers who responded to the survey are hiring business majors. That’s the most of any major.

Petroleum engineering majors have the highest average starting salary, according to another survey from NACE out earlier this month. The average starting salary for petroleum engineering majors from the class of 2014 is $95,300, up 1.9% from the class of 2013’s average starting salary.

Health sciences and education students — sorry. You’re at the bottom of the list. Fewer  than 5% of employers want to hire you. Keep in mind though: The data reflect the types of companies that responded to the survey. The majority of respondents represent industries including finance, insurance and real estate, Koncz says.

But the average starting salary for health sciences gained the most ground this year. Students with that degree are expected to make an average of $51,541, up 3.7% from $49,713 last year.

Fall recruiting for the class of 2015 looks even more promising.


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The good news is you got the job. Which, in this still-reeling economy, is quite an accomplishment. But the bad news is you’re worried you might be settling for a position that isn’t the right fit for you. So where do you go from here?

Look, the honest truth is there are times when you’ll have to take any job you can get, even if you know it’s a bad fit. Maybe your house is about to be foreclosed on, you can’t make rent, or you have a family depending on you for income. We completely understand there will be times when finding ANY job is a priority over the PERFECT job.

But then there’s the flip side of that coin, which is taking a job just for the sake of having a job even if you have the luxury of holding out for something better. Maybe you’re frustrated because your job search has taken far longer than expected, or you graduated college and you’re the last of your friends to find steady employment. Those situations aren’t ideal, but neither is taking a “filler” job that won’t really benefit your career.

To help guide you, here are some very valid reasons to reject a job offer.


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I really loved a recent article I read on entitled the 7 Habits of Remarkably Likeable Bosses,* borrowing slightly from Dr. Stephen Covey.  This was the list included in the article:

1Be Friendly

2. Be Available         

3. Be Flexible

4. Be Positive

5. Be Dependable

6. Be Grateful

7. Be Compassionate

At first blush, most of us would agree that there’s nothing on the list that would cause any of us to have an ‘ah-ha moment.  But how often are we truly beguiled by the obvious?

It’s quite natural for us to like people who hold views that are similar to our own. And the same can be said for the articles we read. If they reflect beliefs and values we hold strongly, we tend to think highly of the author. So what I’m about to say here should come as no surprise.

Rarely do I read something that reflects everything I believe in regarding a specific topic, but this article is spot on. I would submit that you can use the criteria included here to assess anyone you’ve ever worked for and you’ll see that those you remember most fondly, come closest to hitting all these 7 points.

When you’re in any position, people will assess and judge you. That’s nothing new; they’ve been doing that since the first employee was ever hired. However, you should be conducting your own assessments along the way – and now you have the good tool.

But you’d be short-sighted to stop there.

Several years ago I presented my HR team with an evaluation form for them to complete. It was an evaluation of ME as their Department leader. Why would I go out on such a risky ledge?

I wanted the team to know that I cared enough about each of them, to create the ideal environment for them to succeed.  I wanted them to know that their opinion of me really mattered. However, there was another reason, as well. It’s the proverbial ‘other’ side of the coin.

For those who have come to know me, you probably know that I pride myself in chasing perfection. As such, when I lead teams, I want to be the kind of leader they never want to leave. Time and patience has taught me that if I can create that kind of environment for members of my team, there’s nothing they won’t do for us to be successful.  Once your team has such a mindset, there’s simply nothing that can’t be accomplished.  Now just imagine what your own team could do with that kind of motivation, and how would that kind of effort change the value that you could bring to an employer?

OK, everything has a point and here’s mine.

Just about all of you now, or will in the future, have a position where people will call you their boss. Please NEVER forget that such a role is much more than a paycheck.  It literally means that some company has entrusted you with the oversight for their people and that is not only a tremendous honor, but it’s also an awesome responsibility.

You have the power to be great – or to be terrible, and remember that no matter which direction you take, you will affect a lot of lives directly and indirectly in the process. That’s real power and no one should ever wield it lightly.

So don’t just use this scorecard to grade out your own boss. More importantly, use it as a model, so you’ll be able to mature into a great one, as well.

In reality, we’re all here for a very short time. When you leave your current employer what will be your legacy?

By Eric Steven Griesel, JD – Senior HR Leader & Employment and Labor Law Attorney



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A job interview will quickly disintegrate into an interrogation or monologue unless you ask some high quality questions of your own. Candidate questions are the lifeblood of any successful interview, because they create dialogue and help clarify your understanding of the company and the position responsibilities.

In addition the questions you ask serve to indicate your grasp of fundamental issues, reveal your ability to probe beyond the superficial and challenge the employer to reveal his or her own depth of knowledge and commitment to the job.

Your questions should always be slanted in such a way as to show empathy, interest, or understanding of the employer’s needs. After all, the reason you’re interviewing is because the employer’s company has a piece of work that needs to be completed, or has a problem that needs correcting. Here are some questions that have proven to be very effective:

  • What’s the most important issue facing the company (or department)
  • How can I help you accomplish this objective?
  • How long has it been since you first identified this need?
  • How long have you been trying to correct it?
  • Have you tried using your present staff to get the job done? If so, what was the result?
  • Is there any particular skill or attitude you feel is critical to getting the job done?
  • Is there a certain aspect of my background you’d like to exploit to help accomplish your objectives?

Questions like these will not only give you a sense of the company’s goals and priorities, they’ll indicate to the interviewer your concern for satisfying the company’s objectives.

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Experienced job seekers know there are four basic types of interview questions—and they prepare accordingly.

First, there are the resume questions. These relate to your past experience, skills, job responsibilities, education, upbringing, personal interests, and so forth.

Resume questions require accurate, objective answers, since your resume consists of facts which tend to be quantifiable (and verifiable). Try to avoid answers which exaggerate your achievements, or appear to be opinionated, vague, or egocentric.

Second, interviewers will usually want you to comment on your abilities, or assess your past performance. They’ll ask self-appraisal questions like, “What do you think is your greatest asset?” or, “Can you tell me something you’ve done that was very creative?”

Third, interviewers like to know how you respond to different stimuli. Situation questions ask you to explain certain actions you took in the past, or require that you explore hypothetical scenarios that may occur in the future. “How would you stay profitable during a recession?” or, “How would you go about laying off 1300 employees?” or, “How would you handle customer complaints if the company drastically raised its prices?” are typical situation questions.

And last, some employers like to test your mettle with stress questions such as, “After you die, what would you like your epitaph to read?” or, “If you were to compare yourself to any U.S. president, who would it be?” or, “It’s obvious your background makes you totally unqualified for this position. Why should we even waste our time talking?”

Stress questions are designed to evaluate your emotional reflexes, creativity, or attitudes while you’re under pressure. Since off-the-wall or confrontational questions tend to jolt your equilibrium, or put you in a defensive posture, the best way to handle them is to stay calm and give carefully considered answers.

Remember, your sense of humor will come in handy during the entire interviewing process, just so long as you don’t go over the edge. I heard of a candidate who, when asked to describe his ideal job, replied, “To have beautiful women rub my back with hot oil.” Needless to say, he wasn’t hired.

Even if it were possible to anticipate every interview question, memorizing dozens of stock answers would be impractical, to say the least. The best policy is to review your background, your priorities, and your reasons for considering a new position; and to handle the interview as honestly as you can. If you don’t know the answer to a question, just say so, or ask for a moment to think about your response.

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Here are eight of the most commonly asked (and basic) interviewing questions. Do yourself and the prospective employer a favor, and give them some thought before the interview occurs.

  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why do you want to leave your current job?
  • What are your personal and professional goals?
  • What do you like most about your current job?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What do you like least about your current job?

The last question is probably the hardest to answer: What do you like least about your current job?

I’ve found that rather than pointing out the faults of others (as in, “I can’t stand the office politics,” or, “My boss is a jerk”), it’s best to place the burden on yourself (“I feel I’m ready to exercise a new set of professional muscles,” or, “The type of technology I’m interested in isn’t available to me now.”). By answering in this manner, you’ll avoid pointing the finger at someone else, or coming across as a whiner or complainer. It does no good to speak negatively about others.

I suggest you think through the answers to the eight questions above for two reasons.

First, it won’t help your chances any to hem and haw over fundamental issues such as these. (The answers you give to these types of questions should be no-brainers.)

And second, the questions will help you evaluate your career choices before spending time and energy on an interview. If you don’t feel comfortable with the answers you come up with, maybe the new job isn’t right for you.

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During the employment interview, there’s a good chance you’ll be asked about your current and expected level of compensation. Here’s the way to handle the following questions:

Question: What are you currently earning?

Answer: “My compensation, including bonus, is in the high-forties. I’m expecting my annual review next month, and that should put me in the low-fifties.”

Question: What sort of money would you need to come to work here?

Answer: “I feel that the opportunity is the most important issue, not salary. If we decide to work together, I’m sure you’ll make me a fair offer.”

In the answer to the first question, notice the way a range was given, not a specific dollar figure. However, in a situation in which the interviewer presses for a exact answer, then by all means, be precise, in terms of salary, bonus, benefits, expected increase, and so forth.

With respect to the second question, if the interviewer tries to zero in on your expected compensation, you should also suggest a range, as in, “I would need something in the low- to mid- sixties.” Getting locked in to an exact figure may work against you later, in one of two ways: either the number you give is lower than you really want to accept; or the number appears too high or too low to the employer, and an offer never comes. By using a range, you can keep your options open.

Don’t Come On Too Strong
Unless you’re pinned down in the early stages of the interview, the best time to talk about money is after you’ve established mutual interest. If you initiate a discussion about salary and benefits, you run the risk of giving the employer the impression that money is the most important reason for your job search.

From a tactical standpoint, it makes the most sense to build your value and exercise restraint before the subject ever comes up. The greater your asset value is in the eyes of the employer, the stronger your offer will be. The principal objective during the first and second interview is to explore the opportunity and your potential contribution relative to the goals of the department or organization. Focusing on the money only sidetracks the greater issue of whether you and the employer can be productive and happy working together.

Once you know the job fits—and the employer sees your value—you’ll usually be able to agree on a fair price for your services.

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