There's some uncertainty among labor experts about the extent of job shortages in some of the more technical careers in the U.S. A recent article for The Atlantic drew attention to the fact that many university graduates with degrees in science and engineering still have difficulty finding stable work. In fact, the unemployment rate for recent grads with an engineering background is 7 percent, while it's 7.8 percent for those who majored in computer science. However, this data may show just part of the complete picture.
An undergraduate degree doesn't guarantee a job
On one hand, larger economic forces, such as job market demand for a specific type of science and technology expertise, have a major impact on whether or not opportunities are available. On the other, research from Georgetown University, which The Atlantic cited, went on to show that individuals with an information systems degree saw a significant drop in the unemployment rate – 11.7 percent down to 5.4 percent – when they had job experience in addition to their educational training.
As a result, it may not be enough to have a bachelor's degree in engineering and science fields and expect to hit the ground running. In reality, those with a strong foundation in technical subject matter should expect to put in the extra time needed to gain hands on experience in a workplace.
In the bigger picture, the outlook for engineering and science grads and employees is positive. Forbes reported there are roughly 1.6 million engineering jobs in the U.S. alone, with the most popular specialties being civil, mechanical and industrial. At the same time, there has been 7 percent growth in the employment market for engineers between 2010 and 2014.
What engineering jobs heating up?
Not every engineering specialty is in equal demand. For instance, petroleum engineers have experienced 30 percent job growth in the past four years. Currently, one-quarter of employees in industrial and petroleum engineering positions in the the U.S. are 55 years old or above. Employers will likely have a difficult task ahead if they don't consider the retirement rates within their organizations.
Meanwhile, biomedical engineering positions have grown at 27 percent, which is the top performing career in the category, explained Engineering.com. Civil engineer careers have also reached double-digit growth rates – 20 percent – in spite of the fact that the economic downturn brought many projects to a halt.
Engineering recruiters are often employers' best resource in finding the most talented applicants to assume critical roles within their organizations.