Engineer: Executive Summary

How'd you like to design the next-generation iPhone?

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How'd you like to design the next-generation iPhone? A better pollution control device? Or a machine that would more quickly decode a person's genome? If you're an inveterate tinkerer, with enough math and science ability to survive a five-to-six-year bachelor's degree, engineering could be your calling. Turnover is very low, although twice as many women as men leave the profession. And there's strong demand for engineers, who are among the highest-paid bachelor's-level professionals.

One trend to keep an eye on: Employers are offshoring some lower-skill engineering work to low-cost countries like India and China, where there are thousands of bright engineers willing to work for much less than their U.S. counterparts do. For the safest jobs, look for government work.

Median Pay

National: $90,900. More pay data by metropolitan area

(Data provided by PayScale.com)

Training

U.S. News rankings of engineering programs (fee applies).

Smart Specialties

Biomedical Engineer. You might design a brain-implantable device to alleviate depression, the next-generation medical imaging machine, or a nanosize machine that will cure disease at the molecular level. The Biomedical Engineering Society offers more information.

Nuclear Engineer. The quest for energy independence from foreign nations, concerns about global warming, and frustration with the low power output of other alternative energy sources could lead to a new generation of nuclear power plants—and strong demand for the engineers who will design them.

Nonpolluting Vehicle Developer. Many scientists believe that gas and diesel engines are a major cause of global warming. Want to help save the planet? Get involved with work to develop an environmentally clean car, probably using hydrogen fuel cells. That may involve you in an effort that could save the planet. Learn more about ecofriendly vehicles at evworld.com.

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