By: Mike Iandoli
Historically, engineering had four major disciplines: mechanical, chemical, civil and electrical. However, in recent years, the number of disciplines, sub-branches and interdisciplinary roles has increased dramatically as the engineering profession tackles new global challenges.
Given the burgeoning opportunities in emerging fields such as bioengineering/biomedical, nanotechnology, alternative energy and water, there may never be a better time to make a mid-career transition.
Here are seven cutting-edge engineering fields that offer challenge, intellectual stimulation, great pay and future job security.
Do you like to accomplish big things while working on a small-scale? If so, perhaps you should consider a move into nanotechnology.
Nano medicine and nanotechnology were recently named the top emerging fields in a survey conducted by ASME. Nanotechnology is not only used in a variety of industries – everything from medicine to textiles, construction, food, forensics and aerospace – the market value of related products is estimated to rise to $1 trillion or 5 percent of domestic GDP by 2020 according to data from the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network.
If you’re interested in making the leap to nanotechnology, the top paying regions for engineers include: Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Maine.
Have you dreamed of working in an exciting field that combines medicine and technology? Demand for biomedical engineers is projected to grow a whopping 62 percent between 2010 and 2020 according to CNN Money.
Best of all, you can impact the health status and quality of life for potentially millions of people while specializing in a sub-branch that matches your talents and interests. The mean annual wage for biomedical engineers is $93,960, according to data from the U.S. Labor Bureau. Metropolitan areas with the highest employment levels include Orange County and Santa Clara, California, as well as Framingham and Boston, Massachusetts.
Renewable Energy Engineering
Investments in solar, wind and other forms of alternative energy are creating secure, high paying jobs for engineers. AEE puts the average salary for engineering professionals at $98,552, and over 60 percent of the respondents in their recent survey project the talent shortage will continue over the next five years. Although green jobs are typically associated with specialized engineering firms, hiring has become more widespread as traditional companies focus on sustainable practices and engineering. The top U.S. cites for green jobs include Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston and New York.
Although the unison of economic development with engineering science isn’t new, escalating global poverty has turned development engineering into an emerging field according to U.C. Berkeley’s Lina Nilsson and Shankar Sastry, who outlined the reasons for DevEng’s expansion in the Washington Post.
These humanitarian engineers work to improve conditions for some of the world’s poorest people. If you’re interested in pursuing full-time, contract or even pro bono opportunities, this article provides examples of projects and resources including a list of firms that have full-fledged international development divisions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for qualified robotics engineers is expected to grow by as much as 13 percent through 2018. As further proof, five of the 10 most advertised job titles in a recent snapshot of demand by WANTED Analytics were for robotics-related engineering positions. The five metro areas that frequently have the most job ads for robotics positions include Boston, San Diego, Phoenix, Detroit and New York.
Engineers at the forefront of change should consider a career in privacy engineering. This emerging discipline ensures data security and privacy by identifying risks, providing safeguards and controls, and ensuring regulatory compliance. Carnegie Mellon recently introduced a one-year master’s program citing an urgent need for trained privacy engineers who can hit the ground running. And several professional organizations are offering training initiatives and workshops to meet the growing demand.
Other emerging fields for engineers include big data, unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, 3D printing, precision agriculture, water resources and sustainable infrastructures.
The future has never looked brighter for experienced engineers who have a keen interest in learning new skills and expanding their horizons.
Other information of potential interest
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