According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the first quarter of 2013 saw an increase in oil and gas jobs; it was the thirteenth straight quarter of job growth in that sector, and many of those jobs are going to engineers. The need for innovation and problem solving in the energy sector is creating positive prospects for those seeking oil, gas, and energy engineering jobs.
According to stats from the BLS and Georgetown University, unemployment among engineers with some work experience is less than 5 percent. Both sources report that entry-level engineering salaries are between $50,000 and $57,000, depending on the niche. One of the best employment prospects for engineers of all levels is in the oil and gas sector. The industry is currently trending up across the nation—if not the world—and is being driven, in part, by the push for natural gas shale extraction.
Tim Turner, a recruiting manager with Foster Wheeler USA, cites the number of new projects and a renewed excitement in the industry as reasons for a positive job outlook in engineering and design. Staffing organizations and recruiters are struggling to keep pace with the growing demand for skilled engineers; according to Bill Bradshaw of the specialized Affinity staffing service, engineering jobs are so plentiful in the United States, his company isn't even looking to serve in the global market at this time.
According to executives and recruiters in the field, the engineering job market is resource constrained. There simply aren't enough qualified candidates to get the job done, which bodes well for those graduating over the next couple of years. Even engineers with minimal experience should be able to find work; students who have experience from internships, part-time work, or work-study programs can afford to be picky about an engineering position. As shale oil and alternative energy expand the demand for energy engineers away from traditional oil-based geographies like the Gulf Coast or Texas, engineers will have options when it comes to job location.
Skill and experience aren't the only things oil and gas employers are considering. According to the BLS, approximately half of all oil and gas positions filled in the first quarter of 2013 went to women. Don Shields of the Swanson School of Engineering reports that companies in the industry place a high importance on a balanced workforce. Experts in the field say that the push for balance is so strong, qualified female engineers may be able to obtain an oil and gas position even without a background in chemical or petroleum engineering.
The growing need for energy resources across the world has put pressure on the gas, oil, and energy sectors. Recent positive trends associated with innovations and the discovery of shale natural gas have increased the demand for qualified engineers across the country. Students interested in entering STEM programs should consider an engineering degree, especially if they like the option of stable, well-paying work after college.
(Photo courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee / freedigitalphotos.net)