Past, Present & Future: The Most In-Demand Engineering Jobs


Gary McCauley


June 28, 2019

Are you thinking about entering the engineering industry, do you rely on engineers in your business or are you just fascinated by this sector? If so, it’s worth exploring the history of engineering jobs, how engineering has changed over the last few years and what it will become in the next decade.  

The History of Engineering

The engineering world has changed rapidly over the past decade. Indeed, back in 2006, there were 1.5 million engineers working in the US. While that number is still continuing to grow, the areas of demand have changed. The most in-demand engineers used to be mechanical, industrial and civil. Indeed, in 2006, there were 201,000 engineers employed in the industrial sector. Computers are of course the main reason for the changes we have seen in the last ten years. While heavy industry jobs have greatly diminished there is now an increased focus on computing. Every business today relies on some form of IT technology. Engineers have become a crucial component to keep systems operating, ensure that they are well maintained and to guarantee they have the right set up.

Present Engineering Demand

You can make a lot of money in the engineering industry. Indeed, the average median annual wage for engineering jobs on the market is about $77,900. That’s significantly more than the typical annual wage for all jobs on the market which remains at $37,000.

It’s true to say that right now, engineering is more important than ever for the development of our economy and society. It’s not surprising then that certain engineering jobs are in high demand. One of the most popular jobs right now is certainly software engineering. With big data and machine learning rapidly developing, this is unlikely to change any time soon. Data science involves engineering working with large pools of data and exploring patterns. It’s relevant in various sectors from the healthcare industry to finances.

One might assume that petroleum engineers would be on their way out of the market. However, right now, oil is currently still in high demand and likely will be for the foreseeable future. This is true even with the development and refocus on alternatively sources of energy. Indeed, it is expected that by 2026, the petroleum engineering industry will have increased by nearly 15%.

Electrical engineering is also in high demand on the market right now with a focus on telecommunications. While the average salary for these engineers is around $70,000, specialists can earn anywhere up to a quarter of a million dollars. It is a broad field that includes a range of different sectors and demand pools.



Somewhat paradoxically, as well as high demand for petroleum engineers, there’s also an increased interest in renewable and alternative energy. This does include everything from solar power to turbines and it’s one of the reasons why the electrical sector is expected to increase by 6.5%. To gain a footing here, you will need to make sure that you do have a degree in mechanical or electrical engineering as well as a post-grad in energy. This demand is only going to grow.

One important trend to be aware of that is impacting every job and sector in the engineering world is certainly the on-demand business model, freelance industry or gig economy. More businesses than ever are using pools of on-demand expert engineers rather than hiring individuals on a permanent contract. As well as cutting costs down, this ensures that they do deliver an efficient service to their clients. It also ensures that the business model is far more flexible and competitive in an evolving economy. Research demonstrates that freelancers are the future.

Future Engineering Trends

By exploring the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s possible to get a clear picture of what the engineering industry will look like in the next few years. The first factor to be aware of is that over the next seven years, engineering jobs are projected to grow by 3% with more than sixty thousand new jobs created. While this may not seem high, this is due to the fact that some engineering sectors are expected to decline while others are predicted to rise.

For instance, the average salary in the Aerospace industry for engineers is around $68,000. By 2024, it is predicted that this job sector will grow by approximately 4%. This is a little higher than most engineering sectors. The sector includes work relating to national defence and this is one of the reasons why growth is expected in the US specifically.

Agricultural engineering jobs are also expected to grow by 4% with a salary exceeding $73,000. This is due to a need for increased efficiency levels in agriculture and the challenge of how to reduce environmental damage. Engineering will play a key part in tackling both of these issues in the future.

Biomedical engineering is one of the sectors with the highest projected growth rates at a tremendous 23%. This will be in high demand due to a growing level of technology and the need to incorporate this into medical devices and equipment. It’s largely being pushed to a rapidly increasing elderly population that needs tech innovation to improve quality of life. The average salary for this sector is $88,000.

As infrastructure continues to age, there will be an increased need for maintenance and renovations. The infrastructure projects in Asia are the perfect example. This is going to lead to a 5% increase in civil engineering with an average wage of $49,000.

Computer hardware engineers are expected to gain the highest salaries at $115,000 annually. The sector will see a slight rise in-demand through 2024 however software is likely to become more important than hardware over the next few years.

We hope this helps you understand the key trends of the past, present and future of the engineering industry. While many may believe the on-demand model is a passing trend, it is expected this remains a focus for the foreseeable future as more businesses aim to cut costs and deliver the service that customers demand in a rapidly changing market. Indeed, the on-demand industry is expected to grow significantly over the next five years and the engineering world will certainly be part of this trend.



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