Friday, April 29, 2011

Florida's Spring Guide to Careers is Out Now!





Every spring and fall Florida's Guide to Careers hits the stands. This guide has an in-depth look at different career opportunities. Below are all the careers that were spotlighted in the Spring 2011 edition:






    Here is the full flash version: Guide to Careers Spring 2011.

    Dental Assistants


    Nature of the work
    Dental assistants perform a variety of patient care, office, and laboratory duties. They sterilize and disinfect instruments and equipment, prepare and lay out the instruments and materials required to treat each patient, and obtain and update patients' dental records. Assistants make patients comfortable in the dental chair and prepare them for treatment. During dental procedures, assistants work alongside the dentist to provide assistance. They hand instruments and materials to dentists and keep patients' mouths dry and clear by using suction hoses or other devices. They also instruct patients on postoperative and general oral healthcare.

    Dental assistants may prepare materials for impressions and restorations, and process dental x rays as directed by a dentist. They also may remove sutures, apply topical anesthetics to gums or cavity-preventive agents to teeth, remove excess cement used in the filling process, and place dental dams to isolate teeth for treatment. Many States are expanding dental assistants' duties to include tasks such as coronal polishing and restorative dentistry functions for those assistants who meet specific training and experience requirements.

    Dental assistants with laboratory duties make casts of the teeth and mouth from impressions, clean and polish removable appliances, and make temporary crowns. Those with office duties schedule and confirm appointments, receive patients, keep treatment records, send bills, receive payments, and order dental supplies and materials.

    Education and Training
    In most States, there are no formal education or training requirements to become an entry-level dental assistant. High school students interested in a career as a dental assistant should take courses in biology, chemistry, health, and office practices. For those wishing to pursue further education, the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) approved 281 dental-assisting training programs in 2009. Programs include classroom, laboratory, and preclinical instruction in dental-assisting skills and related theory. Most programs take close to 1 year to complete and lead to a certificate or diploma. Two-year programs offered in community and junior colleges lead to an associate degree. All programs require a high school diploma or its equivalent, and some require science or computer-related courses for admission. A number of private vocational schools offer 4- to 6-month courses in dental assisting, but the Commission on Dental Accreditation does not accredit these programs.

    A large number of dental assistants learn through on-the-job training. In these situations, the employing dentist or other dental assistants in the dental office teach the new assistant dental terminology, the names of the instruments, how to perform daily duties, how to interact with patients, and other things necessary to help keep the dental office running smoothly. While some things can be picked up easily, it may be a few months before new dental assistants are completely knowledgeable about their duties and comfortable doing all their tasks without assistance.
    A period of on-the-job training is often required even for those who have completed a dental-assisting program or have some previous experience. Different dentists may have their own styles of doing things that need to be learned before an assistant can be comfortable working with them. Office-specific information, such as where files and instruments are kept, will need to be learned at each new job. Also, as dental technology changes, dental assistants need to stay familiar with the instruments and procedures that they will be using or helping dentists to use. On-the-job training may be sufficient to keep assistants up-to-date on these matters.

    Job Outlook
    Employment is expected to grow 36 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. In fact, dental assistants are expected to be among the fastest growing occupations over the 2008–18 projection period. Population growth, greater retention of natural teeth by middle-aged and older people, and an increased focus on preventative dental care for younger generations will fuel demand for dental services. Older dentists, who have been less likely to employ assistants or have employed fewer, are leaving the occupation and will be replaced by recent graduates, who are more likely to use one or more assistants. In addition, as dentists' workloads increase, they are expected to hire more assistants to perform routine tasks, so that they may devote their own time to more complex procedures.

    Earnings
    Median annual wages of dental assistants were $32,380 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $26,980 and $38,960. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,270, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $46,150.

    Story & Salary information courtesy of Bureau of Labor Statistics

    Computer & Information Systems Managers


    Nature of the work
    In the modern workplace, it is imperative that Information Technology (IT) works both effectively and reliably. Computer and information systems managers play a vital role in the implementation and administration of technology within their organizations. They plan, coordinate, and direct research on the computer-related activities of firms. In consultation with other managers, they help determine the goals of an organization and then implement technology to meet those goals. They oversee all technical aspect of an organization, such as software development, network security, and Internet operations.

    Computer and information systems managers direct the work of other IT professionals, such as computer software engineers and computer programmers, computer systems analysts, and computer support specialists (information on these occupations can be found elsewhere in the Handbook). They plan and coordinate activities such as installing and upgrading hardware and software, programming and systems design, the implementation of computer networks, and the development of Internet and intranet sites. They are increasingly involved with the upkeep, maintenance, and security of networks. They analyze the computer and information needs of their organizations from an operational and strategic perspective and determine immediate and long-range personnel and equipment requirements. They assign and review the work of their subordinates and stay abreast of the latest technology to ensure that the organization remains competitive.

    Computer and information systems managers can have additional duties, depending on their role within an organization. Chief technology officers (CTOs),for example, evaluate the newest and most innovative technologies and determine how these can help their organizations. They develop technical standards, deploy technology, and supervise workers who deal with the daily information technology issues of the firm. When a useful new tool has been identified, the CTO determines one or more possible implementation strategies, including cost-benefit and return on investment analyses, and presents those strategies to top management, such as the chief information officer (CIO).


    Earnings
    Wages of computer and information systems managers vary by specialty and level of respon-
    sibility. Median annual wages of these managers in May 2008 were $112,210. The middle 50 percent earned between $88,240 and $141,890.

    Story and Salary information courtesy of Bureau of Labor Statistics

    Retail Sales


    Nature of the work
    Whether selling shoes, computer equipment, or automobiles, retail salespersons assist customers in finding what they are looking for. They also try to increase sales by describing a product's features, demonstrating its uses, and promoting its value.

    In addition to selling, many retail salespersons—especially those who work in department and apparel stores—conduct financial transactions with their customers. This usually involves receiving payments by cash, check, debit card, or credit card; operating cash registers; and bagging or packaging purchases. Depending on the hours they work, retail salespersons may have to open or close cash registers. This work may include counting the money in the register and separating charge slips, coupons, and exchange vouchers. Retail salespersons also may have to make deposits at a cash office. (Cashiers, who have similar duties, are discussed elsewhere in the Handbook.) In addition, retail salespersons may help stock shelves or racks, arrange for mailing or delivery of purchases, mark price tags, take inventory, and prepare displays.

    For some sales jobs, particularly those involving expensive and complex items, retail salespersons need special knowledge or skills. For example, salespersons who sell automobiles must be able to explain the features of various models, the manufacturers' specifications, the types of options and financing available, and the details of associated warranties. In addition, all retail salespersons must recognize security risks and thefts and understand their organization’s procedure for handling such situations—procedures that may include notifying security guards or calling police.

    Education and Training
    There usually are no formal education requirements for retail sales positions, but employers often prefer applicants with a high school diploma or its equivalent. This may be especially important for those who sell technical products or “big-ticket” items, such as electronics or automobiles. A college degree may be required for management trainee positions, especially in larger retail establishments.

    Most retail salespersons receive on-the-job training, which usually lasts anywhere from a few days to a few months. In small stores, newly hired workers usually are trained by an experienced employee. In large stores, training programs are more formal and generally are conducted over several days. Topics often include customer service, security, the store's policies and procedures, and cash register operation. Depending on the type of product they are selling, employees may be given additional specialized training. For example, those working in cosmetics receive instruction on the types of products the store offers and for whom the cosmetics would be most beneficial. Likewise, those who sell computers may be instructed in the technical differences between computer products. Because providing the best possible service to customers is a high priority for many employers, employees often are given periodic training to update and refine their skills.

    Job Outlook
    Employment is expected to grow by 8 percent over the 2008–18 decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. In addition, given the size of this occupation, about 374,700 new retail salesperson jobs will arise over the projections decade—more jobs than will be generated in almost any other occupation.

    Employment growth among retail salespersons reflects rising retail sales stemming from a growing population. Many retail establishments will continue to expand in size and number, leading to new retail sales positions. Growth will be fastest in general merchandise stores, many of which sell a wide assortment of goods at low prices. As consumers continue to prefer these stores other establishments with higher prices, growth in this industry will be rapid. Employment of retail sales persons is expected to decline in department stores and automobile dealers as these industries see a reduction in store locations.

    Despite the growing popularity of electronic commerce, the impact of online shopping on the employment of retail salespersons is expected to be minimal. Internet sales have not decreased the need for retail salespersons. Retail stores commonly use an online presence to complement their in-store sales, and many consumers prefer to buy merchandise in person. Retail salespersons will remain important in assisting customers, providing specialized service, and increasing customer satisfaction.

    Earnings
    Median hourly wages of wage-and-salary retail salespersons, including commissions, were $9.86 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.26 and $13.35 an hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.37, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $19.14 an hour. Median hourly wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of retail salespersons in May 2008 were as follows: Automobile dealers: $18.91/hr; Building material and supplies dealers: $11.95/hr; Other general merchandise stores $9.22/hr; Department stores: $9.14/hr; Clothing Stores: $8.94/hr.

    Story & Salary information courtesy of Bureau of Labor Statistics

    Graphic Designers


    Nature of the work
    Graphic designers—or graphic artists—plan, analyze, and create visual solutions to communications problems. They find the most effective way to get messages across in print and electronic media using color, type, illustration, photography, animation, and various print and layout techniques. Graphic designers develop the overall layout and production design of magazines, newspapers, journals, corporate reports, and other publications. They also produce promotional displays, packaging, and marketing brochures for products and services, design distinctive logos for products and businesses, and develop signs and signage systems—called environmental graphics—for business and government. An increasing number of graphic designers also develop material for Internet Web pages, interactive media, and multimedia projects. Graphic designers also may produce the credits that appear before and after television programs and movies.
     
    The first step in developing a new design is to determine the needs of the client, the message the design should portray, and its appeal to customers or users. Graphic designers consider cognitive, cultural, physical, and social factors in planning and executing designs for the target audience. Designers gather relevant information by meeting with clients, creative or art directors, and by performing their own research. Identifying the needs of consumers is becoming increasingly important for graphic designers as they continue to develop corporate communication strategies in addition to creating designs and layouts.

    Graphic designers prepare sketches or layouts—by hand or with the aid of a computer—to illustrate their vision for the design. They select colors, sound, artwork, photography, animation, style of type, and other visual elements for the design. Designers also select the size and arrangement of the different elements on the page or screen. They may create graphs and charts from data for use in publications, and they often consult with copywriters on any text that accompanies the design. Designers then present the completed design to their clients or art or creative director for approval. In printing and publishing firms, graphic designers also may assist the printers by selecting the type of paper and ink for the publication and reviewing the mock-up design for errors before final publication.

    Education and Training
    A bachelor's degree in graphic design is usually required for most entry-level and advanced graphic design positions. Bachelor's degree programs in fine arts or graphic design are offered at many colleges, universities, and private design schools. Most curriculums include studio art, principles of design, computerized design, commercial graphics production, printing techniques, and Web site design. In addition to design courses, a liberal arts education that includes courses in art history, writing, psychology, sociology, foreign languages and cultural studies, marketing, and business are useful in helping designers work effectively.

    Associate degrees and certificates in graphic design also are available from 2-year and 3-year professional schools, and graduates of these programs normally qualify as assistants to graphic designers or for positions requiring technical skills only. Creative individuals who wish to pursue a career in graphic design—and who already possess a bachelor's degree in another field—can complete a 2-year or 3-year program in graphic design to learn the technical requirements.

    The National Association of Schools of Art and Design accredits about 300 postsecondary institutions with programs in art and design. Most of these schools award a degree in graphic design. Many schools do not allow formal entry into a bachelor's degree program until a student has successfully finished a year of basic art and design courses, which can be completed in high school. Applicants may be required to submit sketches and other examples of their artistic ability.

    Graphic designers must keep up with new and updated computer graphics and design software, either on their own or through formal software training programs.

    Job Outlook
    Employment of graphic designers is expected to grow 13 percent, as fast as the average for all occupations from 2008 to 2018, as demand for graphic design continues to increase from advertisers and computer design firms.

    Moreover, graphic designers with Web site design and animation experience will especially be needed as demand increases for design projects for interactive media—Web sites, mobile phones, and other technology. Demand for graphic designers also will increase as advertising firms create print and Web marketing and promotional materials for a growing number of products and services. Growth in Internet advertising, in particular, is expected to increase the number of designers. However, growth may be tempered by reduced demand in the print publishing, where many graphic designers are employed.

    Earnings
    Median annual wages for graphic designers were $42,400 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $32,600 and $56,620. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,110, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,660.

    Story & Salary information courtesy of Bureau of Labor Statistics

    Thursday, April 28, 2011

    Food Service Managers


    Nature of the work
    Food service managers are responsible for the daily operations of restaurants and other establishments that prepare and serve meals and beverages to customers. Besides coordinating activities among various departments, such as kitchen, dining room, and banquets operations, food service managers ensure that customers are satisfied with their dining experience. In addition, they oversee the inventory and ordering of food, equipment, and supplies and arrange for the routine maintenance and upkeep of the restaurant's equipment and facilities. Managers are generally responsible for all administrative and human-resources functions of the business, including recruiting new employees and monitoring employee performance and training.

    Managers interview, hire, train, and when necessary fire employees. Retaining good employees is a major challenge facing food service managers. Managers recruit employees at career fairs and at schools that offer academic programs in hospitality management or culinary arts, and arrange newspaper advertising to attract additional applicants. Managers oversee the training of new employees and explain the establishment's policies and practices. They schedule work hours, making sure that enough workers are present to cover each shift. If employees are unable to work, managers may have to call in alternates to cover for them or fill in themselves. Some managers may help with cooking, clearing tables, or other tasks when the restaurant becomes extremely busy.

    Food service managers ensure that diners are served properly and in a timely manner. They investigate and resolve customers' complaints about food quality and serve. They monitor orders in the kitchen to determine where backups may occur, and they work with the chef to remedy any delays in service. Managers direct the cleaning of the dining areas and the washing of tableware, kitchen utensils, and equipment to comply with company and government sanitation standards. Managers also monitor the actions of their employees and patrons on a continual basis to ensure the personal safety and local liquor regulations are obeyed.

    In addiction to their regular duties, food service managers perform a variety of administrative assignments, such as keeping employee work records, preparing the payroll, and completing paperwork to comply with licensing, tax, wage and hour, unemployment compensation, and Social Security laws. Some of this work may be delegated to an assistant manager or bookkeeper, or it may be contracted out, but most general managers retain responsibility for the accuracy of business records. Managers also maintain records of supply and equipment purchases and ensure that accounts with suppliers are paid.

    Managers tally the cash and charge receipts received and balance them against the record of sales, securing them in a safe place. Finally, managers are responsible for locking up establishment, checking that ovens, grills, and lights are off and switching on alarm systems.

    Technology influences the jobs of foes service managers in many ways, enhancing efficiency and productivity. Many restaurants use computers and business software to place orders and track inventory and sales. They also allow food service managers to monitor expenses, employee schedules, and payroll matters more efficiently.

    In most full-services restaurants and institutional food service facilities, the management team consists of a general manager, on or more assistant managers, and an executive chef. The executive chef is responsible for all food preparation activities, including running kitchen operations, planning menus, and maintaining quality standards for food service. In some cases, the executive chef is also the general manager or owner of the restaurant. General managers may employ several assistant managers that oversee certain areas, such as the dining or banquets rooms, or supervise different shifts of workers. In limited-service eating places, such as sandwich and coffee shops or fast-food restraints, managers or food preparation or serving supervisors, not executive chefs, are responsible for supervising routine food preparation operations.

    In restaurants, mainly full-service independent ones where there are both food service managers and executive chefs, the managers often help the chefs menu items. Managers or executive chefs at independent restaurants select menu items, taking into account the past popularity of dishes, the ability to reuse any food not served the previous day, the need for variety and the seasonal availability of foods. Managers or executive chefs analyze the recipes of the dishes to determine food, labor, and overhead costs, work out the portion size and nutritional content of each plate, and assign prices to various menu items. Menus must be developed far enough in advance that supplies can be ordered and received in time.

    Earnings
    Median annual wages of salaried food service managers were $46,320 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $36,670 and %59,580. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,450, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,940. Median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of food service managers were as follows: Traveler accommodation: $54,710; Special food services: $52,680; Full-service restaurants: $49,420; Limited-Service eating-places: $41,320.

    Story & Salary information courtesy of Bureau of Labor

    Nursing


    Nature of the work
    Nurses, also called register nurses or RNs, take care of sick and injured people. They give people medicine. They treat wounds. And they give emotional support to patients and their families.

    Nurses ask patients about their symptoms and keep detailed records. They watch for signs that people are sick. Then, nurses help doctors examine and treat parents.

    Some nurses’ help to give tests to find out why people are sick. Some also do lab work to get test results.

    Nurses also teach people how to take care of themselves and their families. Some nurses teach people about diet and exercise and how to follow doctors' instructions. Some nurses run clinics and immunization centers.

    Nurses can focus on treating one type of patient, such as babies or children. They can also focus on pone type problem. Some focus on helping doctors during surgery. Others work in emergency rooms or intensive care units.

    Many nurses work in doctors' offices. They help medical tests, give medicines, and dress wounds. Some also do lab and office work.

    Home health nurses go to people's homes to help them. Flight nurses fly in helicopters to get to sick people in emergencies.

    Some nurses have special training and can do more advanced work. Nurse practitioners can prescribe medicine. Nurse midwives can help women give birth.

    Helping sick people and dealing with medical emergencies can be stressful. Nurses in hospitals often have to help many patients at once.

    Many nurses spend a lot of time walking and standing. Nurses also need to be careful in order to stay safe. Nurses care for people who have diseases that they can catch. Nurses can get hurt while helping to move patients. Nurses also need to guard against radiation from x-rays and chemical in medicine.

    Because patients need 24-hour care hospital nurses often work nights, weekends, and holidays. Office nurses are more likely to work regular hours. Many nurses work part time.


    Education and training
    Nurses must graduate from nursing program. It takes about 2 years of college to attain an associate degree in nursing. It takes about 4 years to finish a bachelor's degree in nursing and a nursing diploma program usually takes about 3 years.

    Deciding what kind of training to get is important. Some career paths are open only to nurses who have a bachelor's degree.

    Nursing education includes taking classes and hands-on learning with experienced nurses in hospitals and other places. This is called clinical training.

    Nurses study anatomy, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, and nursing theory.

    After graduating, nurses need to pass a test to get a nursing license. They have to take classes every few years to keep their skills current.

    Nurses need to be caring and kind. They also need to be good at recognizing problems and remembering details.

    Nurses need to work well with doctors and patients. Many nurse also supervise assistants and other workers.

    Nurses can become head nurses or directors of nursing. Some nurses’ move into the business side of health care. Some get jobs in big health care firms planning, marketing, and making sure people get good care.

    Job Outlook
    Registered nurses are the largest health care occupation. They held about 2.6 million jobs in 2008. About 3 out of 5 worked in hospitals.

    Very good job opportunities are expected for resister nurses. Jobs for registered nurses will grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018.

    Many new jobs will be available for people who want to be nurses. New ways of helping people will let nurses treat more problems. They number of older people who need more health care will grow very rapidly. They will need nurses to treat them when they get sick.

    Hospitals will need nurses, but many new nurses will also work in home health, clinics, doctors' offices, and nursing homes.

    Earnings
    In May 2008, nurses median wage was $65,130.

    Story & Salary information courtesy of Bureau of Labor Go To UMA

    Medical Assistants


    Quick Outlook
    - About 62 percent of medical assistants work in offices of physicians.
    - Some medical assistants are trained on the job, but many complete 1-year or 2-year programs.

    Nature of the work
    Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical tasks to keep the offices of physicians, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other health practitioners running smoothly. They should not be confused with Physician assistants, who examine, diagnose, and treat patients under the direct supervision of a physician.

    The duties of medical assistants vary from office to office, depending on the location and size of the practice and the practitioner’s specialty. In small practices, medical assistants usually do many different kinds of tasks, handling both administrative and clinical duties and reporting directly to an office manager, physician, or other health practitioner. Those in large practices tend to specialize in a particular area, under the supervision of department administrators.

    Medical assistants who perform administrative tasks have many duties. They update and file patients’ medical records, fill out insurance forms, and arrange for hospital admissions and laboratory services. They also perform tasks less specific to medical settings, such as answering telephones, greeting patients, handling correspondence, scheduling appointments, and handling billing and bookkeeping.

    For clinical medical assistants, duties vary according to what is allowed by State law. Some common tasks include taking medical histories and recording vital signs, explaining treatment procedures to patients, preparing patients for examinations, and assisting physicians during examinations. Medical assistants collect and prepare laboratory specimens and sometimes perform basic laboratory tests on the premises, dispose of contaminated supplies, and sterilize medical instruments.

    Working environment
    Medical assistants work in well-lighted, clean environments. They constantly interact with other people and may have to handle several responsibilities at once. Most full-time medical assistants work a regular 40-hour week. However, many medical assistants work part time, evenings, or weekends.

    Education and training
    Postsecondary medical assisting programs are offered in vocational-technical high schools, postsecondary vocational schools, and community and junior colleges. Programs usually last either 1 year and result in a certification or diploma, or 2 years and result in an associate degree. Courses cover anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology, as well as typing, transcription, recordkeeping, accounting, and insurance processing. Students learn laboratory techniques, clinical and diagnostic procedures, pharmaceutical principles, the administration of medications, and first aid. They study office practices, patient relations, medical law, and ethics. There are various organizations that accredit medical assisting programs. Accredited programs often include an internship that provides practical experience in physicians’ offices, hospitals, or other health care facilities.

    Formal training in medical assisting, while generally preferred, is not always required. Some medical assistants are trained on the job, although this practice is less common than in the past. Applicants usually need a high school diploma or the equivalent. Recommended high school courses include mathematics, health, biology, typing, bookkeeping, computers, and office skills. Volunteer experience in the health care field also is helpful. Medical assistants who are trained on the job usually spend their first few months attending training sessions and working closely with more experienced workers.

    Employers prefer to hire experienced workers or those who are certified. Although not required, certification indicates that a medical assistant meets certain standards of competence. There are various associations—some listed in the sources of information below—that award certification credentials to medical assistants, and the certification process varies. It also is possible to become certified in a specialty, such as podiatry, optometry, or ophthalmology.

    Medical assistants deal with the public; therefore, they must be neat and well groomed and have a courteous, pleasant manner and they must be able to put patients at ease and explain physicians’ instructions. They must respect the confidential nature of medical information. Clinical duties require a reasonable level of manual dexterity and visual acuity.

    Job Outlook
    Employment of medical assistants is expected to grow 34 percent from 2008 to 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the health care industry expands because of technological advances in medicine and the growth and aging of the population, there will be an increased need for all health care workers. Increasing use of medical assistants in the rapidly growing health care industry will further stimulate job growth.

    Helping to drive job growth is the increasing number of group practices, clinics, and other health care facilities that need a high proportion of support personnel, particularly medical assistants who can handle both administrative and clinical duties. In addition, medical assistants work primarily in outpatient settings, a rapidly growing sector of the health care industry. Job seekers who want to work as a medical assistant should find excellent job prospects. Medical assistants are projected to account for a very large number of new jobs, and many other opportunities will come from the need to replace workers leaving the occupation.

    Earnings
    Median annual earnings of medical assistants in May 2008:

    - Highest 10 percent yearly wage more than $39,570/year
    - Median yearly wage $28,300/year
    - Middle 50 percent yearly wage $23,700 to $33,050/year
    - Lowest 10 percent yearly wage $20,600/year

    Story & Salary information courtesy of Bureau of Labor 

    Engineers


    Quick Outlook
    - Employment is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations. Although growth will bray by specialty; overall job opportunities for engineers are expected to be good.
    - A bachelor's degree in engineering is required for most entry-level jobs, but some research positions may require a graduate degree.
    - Starting salaries are among the highest of all college graduates.
    - Continuing education is critical for engineers in order to keep up with improvements in technology.

    Nature of the work
    Engineers apply the principles of science and mathematics to develop economical solutions to technical problems. Their work is the link between scientific discoveries and the commercial applications that meet societal and consumer needs.

    Many engineers develop new products. During the process, they consider several factors. For example, in developing an industrial robot, engineers specify the functional requirements precisely; design and test the robot's components; integrate the components to produce the final design; and evaluate the design's overall effectiveness, cost, reliability, and safety. This process applies to the development of many different products, such as chemicals, computers, powerplants, helicopters, and toys.

    In addition to their involvement in design and development, many engineers work in testing, production, or maintenance. These engineers supervise production in factories, determine the causes of a component’s failure, and test manufactured products to maintain quality. They also estimate the time and cost required to complete projects. Supervisory engineers are responsible for major components or entire projects. (See the statement on engineering and natural sciences managers elsewhere in the Handbook.)

    Engineers use computers extensively to produce and analyze designs; to simulate and test how a machine, structure, or system operates; to generate specifications for parts; to monitor the quality of products; and to control the efficiency of processes. Nanotechnology, which involves the creation of high-performance materials and components by integrating atoms and molecules, also is introducing entirely new principles to the design process.

    Most engineers specialize. Following are details on the 17 engineering specialties covered in the Federal Government's Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system. Numerous other specialties are recognized by professional societies, and each of the major branches of engineering has numerous subdivisions. Civil engineering, for example, includes structural and transportation engineering, and materials engineering includes ceramic, metallurgical, and polymer engineering. Engineers also may specialize in one industry, such as motor vehicles, or in one type of technology, such as turbines or semiconductor materials.


    Education and Training
    A bachelor's degree in engineering is required for almost all entry-level engineering jobs. College graduates with a degree in a natural science or mathematics occasionally may qualify for some engineering jobs, especially in specialties that are in high demand. Most engineering degrees are granted in electrical and electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, and civil engineering. However, engineers trained in one branch may work in related branches. For example, many aerospace engineers have training in mechanical engineering. This flexibility allows employers to meet staffing needs in new technologies and specialties in which engineers may be in short supply. It also allows engineers to shift to fields with better employment prospects or to those that more closely match their interests.

    Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty, along with courses in both mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Many programs also include courses in general engineering. A design course, sometimes accompanied by a computer or laboratory class or both, is part of the curriculum of most programs. Often, general courses not directly related to engineering, such as those in the social sciences or humanities, also are required.
    In addition to the standard engineering degree, many colleges offer 2-year or 4-year degree programs in engineering technology. These programs, which usually include various hands-on laboratory classes that focus on current issues in the application of engineering principles, prepare students for practical design and production work, rather than for jobs that require more theoretical and scientific knowledge. Graduates of 4-year technology programs may get jobs similar to those obtained by graduates with a bachelor's degree in engineering. Engineering technology graduates, however, are not qualified to register as professional engineers under the same terms as graduates with degrees in engineering. Some employers regard technology program graduates as having skills between those of a technician and an engineer.

    Graduate training is essential for engineering faculty positions and some research and development programs, but is not required for the majority of entry-level engineering jobs. Many experienced engineers obtain graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology and broaden their education. Numerous high-level executives in government and industry began their careers as engineers.

    The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredits college and university programs in engineering and engineering technology. ABET accreditation is based on a program's faculty, curriculum, and facilities; the achievement of a program's students; program improvements; and institutional commitment to specific principles of quality and ethics. Graduation from an ABET-accredited program may be required for engineers who need to be licensed.

    Although most institutions offer programs in the major branches of engineering, only a few offer programs in the smaller specialties. Also, programs with the same title may vary in content. For example, some programs emphasize industrial practices, preparing students for a job in industry, whereas others are more theoretical and are designed to prepare students for graduate work. Therefore, students should investigate curricula and check accreditations carefully before selecting a college.

    Admissions requirements for undergraduate engineering schools include a solid background in mathematics (algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and calculus) and science (biology, chemistry, and physics), in addition to courses in English, social studies, and humanities. Bachelor's degree programs in engineering typically are designed to last 4 years, but many students find that it takes between 4 and 5 years to complete their studies. In a typical 4-year college curriculum, the first 2 years are spent studying mathematics, basic sciences, introductory engineering, humanities, and social sciences. In the last 2 years, most courses are in engineering, usually with a concentration in one specialty. Some programs offer a general engineering curriculum; students then specialize on the job or in graduate school.

    Some engineering schools have agreements with 2-year colleges whereby the college provides the initial engineering education and the engineering school automatically admits students for their last 2 years. In addition, a few engineering schools have arrangements that allow students who spend 3 years in a liberal arts college studying pre-engineering subjects and 2 years in an engineering school studying core subjects to receive a bachelor's degree from each school. Some colleges and universities offer 5-year master's degree programs. Some 5-year or even 6-year cooperative plans combine classroom study with practical work, permitting students to gain valuable experience and to finance part of their education.

    Job outlook
    Overall engineering employment is expected to grow by 11 percent over the 2008–18 decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Engineers traditionally have been concentrated in slower growing or declining manufacturing industries, in which they will continue to be needed to design, build, test, and improve manufactured products. However, increasing employment of engineers in engineering, research and development, and consulting services industries should generate most of the employment growth. The job outlook varies by engineering specialty, as discussed later.

    Competitive pressures and advancing technology will force companies to improve and update product designs and to optimize their manufacturing processes. Employers will rely on engineers to increase productivity and expand output of goods and services. New technologies continue to improve the design process, enabling engineers to produce and analyze various product designs much more rapidly than in the past. Unlike the situation in some other occupations, however, technological advances are not expected to substantially limit employment opportunities in engineering, because engineers are needed to provide the ideas that lead to improved products and more productive processes.

    The continued globalization of engineering work will likely dampen domestic employment growth to some degree. There are many well-trained, often English-speaking, engineers available around the world who are willing to work at much lower salaries than U.S. engineers. The rise of the Internet has made it relatively easy for part of the engineering work previously done by engineers in this country to be done by engineers in other countries, a factor that will tend to hold down employment growth. Even so, there will always be a need for onsite engineers to interact with other employees and clients.

    Earnings
    The mean annual salaries for engineers ranged from $81,085 in agricultural engineering to $126,788 in ceramic engineering in March 2009.

    Story & Salary information courtesy of Bureau of Labor 

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