Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Scary Job Outlook Figures

  1. Feb 6, 2010 #1
    I'm am currently working towards obtaining my Electrical & Electronic Engineering degree. I have always loved electronics and how they worked and found out recently that I'm pretty good at catching on with electrical systems so this degree was a natural choice.

    I was looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov[/URL]) and the job growth opportunities look pretty bleak for my future field. They show a growth of about 1% for the entire field with respects to a 2% growth in electrical and nearly 0% growth for electronics over the next decade. . . They blame this to international outsourcing and other factors.

    My question is should I be maybe looking into other fields that might interest me that have a higher job growth percentage? I have always loved math and critical problem solving so I am sure I would enjoy many other disciplines of engineering; I just thought I would have a niche for EE. But I would like to be able to get a job in my field at some point after I graduate.

    Other programs that are available in my state that seem to maybe interest me are : Mechanical, with a 6% average growth (which is still below average) or
    Petroleum, with an 18% average growth (faster than average)

    Also, I've had this childhood love for space that has never really seemed to leave me. Aerospace Engineering would be really awesome too (job growth rate of about 10%) but I would like to avoid out-of-state tuition costs ($25,000+/yr opposed to my current $6000/yr). But if the return would be worth it, this is something I would definitely consider doing though I realize not everyone gets into NASA.

    I guess I just would like to know if this is something even worth worrying about or are these figures something that is already being felt in the work force? I know our economy is in the toilet right now and no where is really hiring like it used to be; but if there is a way to possibly better my chances in the future I would like to maybe start preparing. Thanks.

    source: [URL]http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm[/URL]
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 6, 2010 #2
    I personally don't think you should make to big of a deal out of those statistics. I think that if you keep decent grades, participate in a couple of extracurriculars/research, and maybe do a co-op or internship, your chances of finding a job aren't all that bad. The space program still needs electrical engineers, so if you decide to go that route you still have options. Mechanical might be a decent a middle ground if you aren't entirely sure that you really want to take the electrical route though. With mechanical, your options would be wide open after graduation. Also, it kinda depends how far along in your education you are. I would say if you're significantly into the electrical curriculum, just stick with it. That's just me though, the decision is yours!
    Hope that helps!
  4. Feb 6, 2010 #3
    Thanks so much. I'm just getting started with school so I haven't even begun to scratch the surface. I was just noticing how the majority of the crew of 'Tranquility' are M.E.'s so it kind of sparked my interest in it whereas before I never really gave it a chance. I've already began my first research project with the only professor @ my community college doing research so I'm getting things for my resume ready. Thanks for the help! Look forward to hearing some other input on this subject.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2010
  5. Feb 6, 2010 #4
    The problem with these sorts of projections is that they tend to be pretty inaccurate. What you really need to do is to maintain a broad set of skills so that you can move from field to field depending on what there the jobs are.

    My first job after I got my physics Ph.D. was in the petroleum industry. There were quite a few EE's there.

    You don't really want to work for NASA as it exists right now. Everyone that I know that works directly for NASA has hated the job, because it's this big, giant bureaucratic monster that can do nothing right. The good news is that people are trying to fix it. If they succeed in creating a commercial space infrastructure, they'll need people. If not, then you'll have to find something else.

    You should prepare by developing some basic skills that will let you adapt to whatever happens.
  6. Feb 7, 2010 #5
    Also, read lots of history, philosophy, and poetry. That will help you a lot. Also get involved in extracurricular activities. The most useful things I learned in college, I didn't learn in the classroom. The reason that people that play football do well in business is that a lot of the skills that you learn in football are those that are useful in business. Much of business consists of getting a group of people to do something. That's something that they don't teach much in the classroom.

    For example, here is an example of a how a poetry class is useful. I'm at work, and suppose I'm angry about something. I want to write an e-mail letting people know how I feel, but if I just start screaming, I'll get in trouble, so I have to figure out how to write the e-mail to express my feelings about something in a way that doesn't get me in trouble and in which the reader can understand. That's basically the same problem as writing a poem.

    I want to write a good resume. I have to use certain language, I have to express myself in a way that gets me the job, and most importantly I want the reader of the resume to feel something. It's the same set of skills you use when you write poetry.

    It works the other way. When you *read* something like a resume or a memo from the CEO, it's also like *reading* poetry. People in business memos usually talk indirectly so sometimes you have to read something very, very carefully to figure out what people *really* are saying. CEO's don't write directly "We are DOOMED, and you are about to get fired", but sometimes you can read between the lines.

    One problem with education is that people focus too much on obvious technical skills, and don't focus on the *unobvious* skills. The other thing is that the professors often don't know. When I took a class on poetry, the professor really had no idea that he was teaching me to write a better resume. Neither did I until a few years after I took the class.
  7. Feb 7, 2010 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    For anyone in Electrical & Electronic Engineering, I would recommend joining IEEE (www.ieee.org) technical society. It provides a great opportunity to network and access to information on the electrical and electronics industry. The hot area right now is 'smart grid' technology.
  8. Feb 7, 2010 #7

    Some of the best advice i have ever read on this forum. Really, no joking ! As a guy working in banking, I couldn't agree more.
  9. Feb 8, 2010 #8
    thanks so much for the great advice.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2010
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook