10 Fastest Growing Engineer Jobs in the USA (Until 2020)

Updated on December 12, 2016
USACE Civil Engineer monitors emergency levee construction in Fargo, North Dakota
USACE Civil Engineer monitors emergency levee construction in Fargo, North Dakota | Source

© 2012 by Aurelio Locsin.

Engineers apply theoretical knowledge of math and the physical sciences to create practical solutions for everyday problems. For example, they can plan roads and bridges, create new technology, design aircraft or develop more efficient methods for extracting oil.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor data released February 1, the total number of engineers in the USA will increase by 160,000 to from 1.51 million to 1.67 million from 2010 to 2020. This represents a change of 10.6%. The growth rate for all jobs will be 14.3% for the same period, which is an increase of 20.4 million jobs from 143 million to 163.53 million,

The following list shows the top 10 engineering disciplines that will add the most jobs, arranged in descending order. The figure in parentheses after the job title is the projected number of new jobs. Employment figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.

1. Civil Engineers (51,100)

Civil engineers plan and oversee the development of infrastructure projects such as airports, freeways, bridges, sewer systems, government centers and dams.

  • They will add the most number of jobs at 51,100, for an increase of 19.4% from 262,800 to 313,900.
  • Architectural, engineering and related services will provide most of the opportunities with about 43,400 positions, an increase of 34.2%.
  • Construction will offer 6,200 new jobs for an increase of 25.2%.

2. Mechanical Engineers (21,300)

Mechanical engineers design mechanical devices such as car engines, power plants, machine tools and ventilation equipment.

  • Jobs will grow by 21,300, or from 243,200 to 264,600, which is an increase of 8.8%.
  • Architectural, engineering and related services will provide about 17,500 new jobs for an increase of 34.6%,
  • This is followed by research in development in the physical, engineering and life sciences with 3,300 jobs or 21.9%, and testing labs with 1,400 jobs or 20.2%.

3. Electronics and Electrical Engineers (17,600)

Electrical engineers develop electrical equipment such as power systems, aircraft control systems and building wiring. Electronics engineer manage electronic devices such as media players, communications systems and TV sets. This category does not include computer hardware engineers.

  • They will grow from 294,000 to 311,600, which is equal to 17,600 new positions or 6%.
  • Architectural, engineering and related services will provide 14,300 new jobs for an increase of 31.8 percent.
  • Computer systems design and related service will add 3,800 jobs or 43.1 percent.

4. Industrial/Health and Safety Engineers (16,200)

Industrial engineers develop systems to make industrial processes more efficient and profitable. These include management control systems, distribution services and job evaluation programs. Health and safety engineers ensure the safety of workers and machinery by developing injury prevention procedures and loss prevention controls.

  • They will provide 16,200 new jobs for an increase from 227.600 to 243,800 or 7.1%.
  • Architectural, engineering and related services will add 5,700 new jobs for an increase of 39.6%.
  • This is followed by management, scientific and technical consulting services with 2,800 jobs or 64.9%. Companies that take over the management of other

5. Environmental Engineers (11,300)

Environmental engineers use chemistry and biology to manage environmental issues such as water and air pollution, land resources, recycling, public health and sustainability.

  • Positions will grow from 51,400 to 62,700, an increase of 11,300 or 11.3%.
  • Management, scientific and technical consulting service will see an increase of 5,800 jobs or 57.7%. This is followed by architectural, engineering and related services with 4,500 jobs of 31.8%.
  • State and local government, not including education and hospitals, will add 700 positions or 5.8%.

6. Biomedical Engineers (9,700)

Biomedical engineers develop medical products such as artificial organs, pharmaceuticals, diagnostic instruments and implants.

  • Jobs will increase by 9,700 or 61.7 percent from 15,700 to 25,400.
  • Research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences will show increases of 2,000 jobs or 68.8 percent.
  • Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing will grow by 1,900 jobs or 51.2%.

7. Computer Hardware Engineers (6,300)

Computer hardware engineers research and develop the physical components of computer systems including circuit boards, computer chips, keyboards and controllers.

  • They will add 6,300 jobs to grow by 9% from 70,000 to 76,300.
  • Computer systems design and related services will add 7,800 jobs or 57.4%.
  • Architectural, engineering and related services will grow by 1,300 jobs or 29.8%.

8. Petroleum Engineers (5,100)

Petroleum engineers create systems and equipment for extracting oil and gas from under the earth. They also develop methods for increasing recovery and reducing the costs of production.

  • Their positions will increase by 17 percent or 5,100 jobs, which is from 30,200 to 35,300.
  • Oil and gas extraction will provide the greatest increast at 3,500 jobs or 25.6%.
  • Architectural, engineering and related services follow with an increase of 700 jobs or 32.4%.

9. Aerospace Engineers (4,000)

Aerospace engineers design vehicles and devices that travel through air and space such as airplanes, helicopters, rockets and missiles.

  • Jobs will grow by 4,000 or 4.9% from 81,000 to 85,000.
  • Architectural, engineering and related services will add 4,100 jobs, which represents 33.4%.
  • Scientific research and development services will grow by 2,600 or 23.4%.

10. Nuclear Engineers (2,000)

Nuclear engineers apply the principles of nuclear science to control nuclear energy, control nuclear materials and dispose of nuclear waste.

  • Their numbers will increase by 19,100 to 21,100, which is an additional 2,000 jobs or 10.2%.
  • Management, scientific and technical consulting services will add 2,100 jobs, an increase of 81.9%
  • Architectural, engineering and related services will add 600 jobs or 28.8%.

What type of engineer are you?

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    • profile image

      Muhammad Raheel 

      15 months ago

      Petroleum is the best job

    • profile image


      16 months ago

      What about Biotechnology Engineering?

    • profile image


      23 months ago

      The engineers are really great. I didnt even think about it

    • profile image


      24 months ago

      . Data analysts will be in demand.

      According to the report, data analysts will become increasingly more important in all industries by 2020.

      Survey respondents said they expect to have a greater demand for data analysts because they will need help making sense of all of the data generated by technological disruptions.

      2. In fact, computer and mathematical jobs as a whole will also continue to get a boost.

      Jobs that fall under the computer and mathematical occupations will grow.

      These occupations include computer programmers, software developers, information security analysts, and more.

      3. Architects and engineering jobs will remain stable.

      During the next four years, the demand for those skilled in architecture and engineering will continue to increase.

      Specifically, the report states there will be growth for engineers focused on biochemicals, nanotechnology, robotics, and materials.

      By 2020, 2 million jobs will be created worldwide that fall under computer and mathematical and architecture and engineering related fields, according to the report.

      4. More specialized sales people will also be needed.

      As technological advancements continue to disrupt industries, there will be a growing need for specialized sales people who can explain the company's offerings to a wide range of clients, including businesses, governments, consumers, as well as to new clients that the company has never worked with before.

      For example, as content is increasingly consumed on mobile, a digital media company would want to hire sales people who are knowledgeable with the ins and outs of mobile advertising.

      5. Senior managers will be needed in industries across the board to lead companies through periods of transformations.

      Industries ripe for disruption will also need a new type of senior manager to help companies navigate the rough waters of change, the report states.

      Industries that will need these new type of senior managers include media, entertainment, and information, according to the report.

      6. Product designers aren't going anywhere.

      One of the top skills that will be in demand by 2020 is creativity, according to the report. This will occur because while a lot of monotonous jobs can be automated, creative jobs still require a human.

      One occupation survey respondents said will be increasingly needed with this skillset will be designers, specifically commercial and industrial designers.

      These are the people that design and develop products like cars, appliances, gadgets, and other manufactured goods.

      7. Human resources and organizational development specialists will also be needed to help reskill workers.

      While technological and socio-economic changes will cause some jobs to disappear completely, there will also be a new jobs created and people needed to fill them.

      One way companies are planning on dealing with finding the talent needed for new jobs is by training existing employees with new skill sets.

      In fact, according to the report, 65% of respondents said that they are investing in reskilling current employees.

      So development specialists and human resource professionals will be needed not only for hiring in a competitive market, but they will also be needed to help employees develop new skill sets.

      8. Demand for regulatory and government relations experts will continue to increase as companies embrace new technologies.

      As companies adopt and develop emerging technologies, they will also be looking to hire those familiar with how to navigate the legal side of things.

      For example, as traditional automakers and tech companies both develop driverless cars, they are also hiring people to understand the relevant laws and to work with government regulators in figuring out the best way to implement the technology.

    • profile image


      24 months ago

      Not pre-med. Not business. Not computer science. The most popular college major choice for high school seniors surveyed by CareerBuilder---the majority of whom already have a career in mind---is engineering.

      We can debate how many of these students will stick with engineering when they get their first homework assignments in college. But let's assume most of them don't move to less rigorous majors. Which engineering field should they choose? What are the most in-demand engineering jobs in the U.S. based on job growth, hires, and job posting activity? And which ones have the oldest workforces that will need to be replaced sometime in the next five to 10 years?

      To answer these questions, we looked at labor market data and job postings analytics from EMSI for all 18 engineering occupations classified by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and all eight engineering technicians occupations (which are primarily middle-skill positions). Both categories, despite the difference in educational requirements and median pay, are adding a bunch of jobs post-recession and are key STEM occupation groups. But they tell a different story when comparing job postings from employers and hiring that's taken place.


      First, a few big-picture data trends:

      The U.S. has approximately 1.6 million engineering jobs that pay $42 per hour in median wages. Civil engineers account for the most jobs of any engineering field (274,000 in 2014), followed closely by mechanical engineers (264,000) and industrial engineers (229,000). Those three engineering jobs, plus electrical engineers and electronics engineers, make up two-thirds of the American engineering workforce.

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 

      5 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      The American Society of Mechanical Engineers' salary report just came out - and petroleum engineers are receiving the highest starting salaries by far, in the 80,000 range to start. This is in part due to the high demand relative to the few graduates in the field.

    • profile image

      D. Wilson 

      6 years ago

      Mining makes all of these jobs possible. How can you leave a them off the list. When most are nearing retirement.

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Your son has great job prospects, tammyswallow.

    • alocsin profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I hope you're finding good job prospects.

    • tammyswallow profile image


      6 years ago from North Carolina

      Great Hub! I am sharing this with my son who is currently in college majoring in mechanical engineering. Well written and researched.

    • Kristine Manley profile image

      Donna Kristine 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks for highlighting Engineers. I have my B.S. in Industrial Engineering. Great Hub. Voted up!

    • Tams R profile image

      Tams R 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      I never realized there were so many engineers. It's amazing what it takes to run a world. Useful hub.


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