Engineers are college-educated professionals who develop solutions for technical, commercial and societal problems. The engineering profession requires scientific knowledge and ingenuity, or the quality of being inventive. In fact, the word “ingenuity” is derived from “ingenium,” which is the Latin word for engineering.
Engineers spend a lot of time doing scientific analysis and technical writing. Whether or not they get their hands dirty depends on their occupation and tasks. Those who are involved in manufacturing, for example, spend their time on the shop floor or in a lab. Here are five engineering jobs that require hands-on experience.
Aerospace engineers design aircraft and spacecraft. Some of them work on national defense projects that require security clearance. Their hands-on experience involves prototype testing to ensure that a design functions properly. Aerospace engineers are some of the highest paid workers in the profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary was $103,720 in 2012. Job growth will be slow in the coming years as governments redirect their space efforts.
Biomedical engineers find solutions to problems in medicine or biology. They work to improve the quality of patient care. Their hands-on duties include medical therapies and laboratory work. Biomedical engineers do not earn as much as aerospace engineers; the median salary was $86,960 in 2012. However, the future looks bright for biomedical engineers. The projected job growth is 27 percent by 2022, compared to 7 percent for aerospace engineers.
Civil engineering is the second-oldest engineering occupation after military engineering. Civil engineers design, construct and maintain a variety of construction projects. Examples include roads, bridges, dams, tunnels, water supply and sewage treatment systems. While many engineers work in an office, civil engineers usually spend time in the field where they can monitor construction projects and address problems onsite. They earn a good salary — $79,340 was the median income in 2012 – and the job growth estimate is 20 percent by 2022.
Environmental engineers apply the principles of engineering, biology, chemistry and soil science to solve environmental problems. Their projects range from recycling and waste disposal to air and water pollution control. Depending on the nature of their work, they get their hands dirty outdoors, alongside technicians and scientists. These types of engineers earn a median salary of $80,890 in 2012 and can be employed at places like 20/20 NDT Inc. Job opportunities are expected to grow faster than average for engineering careers. The projected growth is 15 percent by 2022, with state and local governments leading the environmental efforts.
Industrial engineers look for ways to improve the production process. Most of them have hands-on jobs in the settings they are working to improve, such as a hospital or factory assembly line. They typically gather data onsite and analyze it in an office. In 2012, the median income for an industrial engineer was $78,860. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 5 percent job growth by 2022. The versatility of the job, however, makes industrial engineers attractive to employers.
Engineers face creative and technical challenges no matter what occupation they choose. They spend a lot of time in the office or at a computer, analyzing data and writing reports. However, opportunities still exist for hands-on field work when engineers choose the right job.