Engineering is a versatile occupation. The education acquired by aspiring engineers gives them the opportunity to step into situations of myriad scopes and subjects and use their problem-solving and reasoning skills to understand a process, make improvements, and oversee their implementation. The field has developed jobs specifically for this capability; jobs such as chemical, industrial, and civil engineers, whose moniker belies their educational background.
But outside of these more common roles lies a bevy of opportunities for those holding a degree in the field. These jobs capitalize on the specialized and generalized knowledge of the profession in industries that are as exciting as they are cutting edge. The reality is that engineers have a plethora of options available when determining how to leave their mark (literally or otherwise) on the Earth.
1. Mining Engineer
If your desire is to make an impact below the Earth's surface, then this occupation may be appropriate. The position involves confronting the challenges of extracting the planet's natural resources safely and efficiently. Job seekers will need to be ready to plan, design, operate, and manage mining operations with an eye on safety and profitability. Specific degree programs exist for those looking to pursue the career, but civil, structural, and construction engineers with solid management skills will likely find a fit underground.
2. Geographic Information Systems
Also known as GIS, this developing field is showing a lot of promise for employment seeking engineers. Specifically, the process involves capture, analysis, and display of quantitative data regarding environments and human activities. Through sophisticated software and hardware systems, GIS professionals will utilize critical-thinking skills to understand how and why our natural systems work. With an engineering background in mathematics and analytics, the job is ripe for the plucking.
3. Sustainability Expert
Our changing planet has enlightened the importance of sustainability in our practices. Sustainability experts specifically focus on the urban aspects of sustainability, including ecology, transportation, architecture, and city planning. This occupation can even include organic farm planning and LEED certification of new or existing structures. The job involves civil engineering skills, including analysis, understanding, design, and implementation of environmentally friendly systems. As our collective environmental consciousness grows, so too will the job market.
4. Offshore Wind Farm Engineer
One of the many solutions to our environmental issues growing in popularity, occupations in offshore wind farming are still scarce, but no less in need of an engineer’s touch. Civil and structural engineers will be able to lend their understanding of physics, maintenance, and management to the handling of these sea-born power plants. Want to see an offshore wind farm in action? Click here.
5. Geometric Engineering
Geometric engineers are given the opportunity to exercise their many skills in ways that positively change our urban environment. In general, they are civil engineers who use computer systems to help create roads, bridges, and other forms of infrastructure. This includes everything from design, to oversight of construction, to monitoring of implementation. In addition, the job outlook is bright, with most geometric engineers being in their later years and retiring, leaving vacancies open for fortuitous applicants.
6. Environmental Management
If you hadn't noticed, ecosystems are a heavy focus of engineering jobs at the moment. In Canada, different municipalities are employing engineers to help assess their relationship with the environment. Environmental managers help industries, companies, and individuals regulate their waste in order to improve ecological circumstances and comply with governmental regulations. The discipline requires a fair bit of training, but specialization can be acquired once in the field.
7. Unexploded Ordnance Technician
On the military side of the job market, unexploded ordnance has become an area of focus as old landmines and explosives from past wars are being cleaned up. The occupation is highly technical, requiring advanced knowledge of electrical systems and chemical behavior in order to properly diffuse and handle the materials. Technicians will find themselves preparing firing mechanisms for safe diffusion and studying and identifying a wide variety of ordnance. Surprisingly, the occupation is safer than most think, with zero incidents from mishandled explosives at the official facility.
Software engineers have additional avenues as well. Bioinformatics involves the collection and analysis of complex biological systems, the most notable of which being the human genome. The occupation does possess a biological component, but the analysis of the incoming data requires an engineer’s knowledge. Formulation of analysis algorithms and construction of neural networks are just two of the responsibilities that computer savvy engineers will see during their employment.
9. Molecular Gastronomist
Interesting engineering occupations reach into many corners of our everyday life. The avenue you are least likely to be aware of, however, is food. The developing discipline of molecular gastronomy utilizes the unique properties of chemicals to create culinary masterpieces as diverse as they are innovative. The occupation, best suited to chemical engineers with an understanding of molecular mechanics and behavior, affords a touch of art to the otherwise calculated world of engineering and gives ambitious minds a chance to get their feet wet in a particularly unique arena. Interested in learning more about this emerging field? Visit one of these restaurants to try some unique creations and maybe even talk to the restaurant's resident Molecular Gastronomist.
10. Industrial Design
Straddling the line between engineering and design is this surprisingly important occupation. Not to be confused with industrial engineering, industrial designers look at everyday objects and analyze their usability, ergonomics, capabilities, and aesthetics and re-work them to be the best they can possibly be. Primarily, designers interact with the human elements of form, function, and comfort, but an engineering background lends useful tools like CAD design and production know-how to the burgeoning discipline. To see some impressive real-world examples of industrial design, look through these photos of a few Google data centers.
While options available to engineers in conventional occupations are nothing to look down upon, those seeking their living off the beaten path can find it in spades. From unexploded bomb handlers to package designers to environmental custodians, the engineering field affords many opportunities to some of the great problem-solvers of our time. Leverage your diverse skill base and analytical ability and you could find yourself designing the next chair, building the next overpass, or managing the development of the next organic co-op.