A recent analysis of government data conducted by the Associated Press shows that over 50% of recent college graduates are under- or unemployed—hardly encouraging news, though not necessarily for engineers. The study found that those most like to be toiling away in serving or reception jobs were zoology, anthropology, art history, philosophy and humanities majors. Recent grads working as cashier, retails clerks, and customer representatives held 125,000 positions compared to only 80,000 engineers; however, keep in mind that only approximately 80,000 students graduate with a degree in engineering each year. Further, a recent CNBC article reported that many technical starting salaries increased in 2011 with petroleum and computer engineers experiencing the greatest increases.
2. The best companies to work for hire engineers
Careerbliss.com used employee reviews from March 2011 and March 2012 to compile a list of the ten best companies for young employees (defined as having less than 10 years of experience in a full-time position). GE Energy, a sub-division of GE, which just so happens to employ several Northwestern Master of Engineering Management students (check out our post about their new management style) came in first. A Forbes article about the study quoted GE Vice President of Human Resources Sharon Daley, who stated that “…people want to work at GE Energy because being here means working with highly motivated, highly talented colleagues…From next generation wind turbines, solar panels, engines that run on biogas, smart grids and the latest subsea oil and gas technologies, GE Energy employees are working on things that matter to the world.” Which is why most people get into engineering in the first place. Lucky for you, 8 of the 10 listed companies employ engineers.
3. More education means more money
As young graduates search for a way to survive the poor job market, many return to school for a Ph.D. or Masters degrees in hopes of waiting out the economic downturn and emerging on the other end more prepared to find work. In some sense, this is sound advice because the shifting job market in our new, high-tech age “favors workers at the top and bottom of the wage scale” while eliminating middle management-type positions, according to the AP article. In modern and innovative fields like engineering, this means going back to school for a Masters of Engineering or Masters of Engineering Management that will (maybe even more than an M.B.A.) pay off in the end. For Philosophy Ph.D. students, this might not be the case.