If Electrical Engineering entry level jobs are harder to come by than you expected, your probably wondering why. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014 there is 174,550 USA residents employed in electrical engineering. Of the electrical engineer jobs average occupational growth is 0% (Probably more like 2%), but we will use the national occupational average of 7%. Leaving a mere 12219 jobs divided among 50 states, totaling to 244 per state. Of course each state will be different depending on the engineering influence of that USA region and state population.
This may not be a problem if there are less than 12219 entry level engineers graduating. However, the American Society for Engineering Education reported 11,261 graduates in the 2013-2014 school year. This means there is a whopping 958 jobs available. But, not really, because actual job growth according to BLS is 0%. So there could easily be a negative amount of jobs available. If the figure we used was 2% then there would be -7770 entry level jobs available.
This article is not meant to scare prospective students or electrical engineers in search of entry level jobs. Quite the opposite actually, as engineers we are mostly dealt cards with defects, our jobs are to design solutions. I submit that a solution can be had (without solving world hunger).
Problem Statement: Object, Defect, Consequence
The first thing we do as engineers is gather facts, brainstorm solutions, test, and implement. But, this is more abstract. Can we apply the same strategy? Sure. Lets start by building a problem statement.
Problem Statement: Object, Defect, Consequence.
♦ Object can be electrical engineering entry level jobs.
♦ Defect can be described as not enough jobs to go around.
♦ Consequences to the defect will be failure to get hired.
(Assuming the safe bet of 2% job growth)
♦ There are 7770 electrical engineering (EE) entry level jobs that need to be filled.
Initial Brainstorm Solutions:
♦ Create more jobs
♦ Graduate less people
♦ 5 Year Masters Programs
♦ Employers hire less from other disciplines
♦ EE’s Hire into other disciplines
♦ EE’s gain experience faster to be considered more than entry level
♦ Guarantee from School: If you can’t get a job within 1 year, first year of masters program is free
♦ Double Major to increase hiring chances
♦ Government holds EDU institutions more accountable
Initial Test Solutions:
♦ Create more jobs – Well, this could be a real solution on a grander level of economy. If the newest presidential candidates create more jobs or cause macro economic growth, entry level positions will start to become available.
♦ Graduate less people – I am sure most people are thinking this is not a real solution. But, I have seen with my own eyes educational institutions churn out graduates that probably shouldn’t have made it past their third year.
♦ 5 Year Masters Programs – A growing idea among the medical fields and other programs is to allow student candidates to take an extra year or 2 to gain a masters. This would push more EE’s into managing and research scientist roles and less into entry level.
♦ Employers hire less from other disciplines – Not feasible – too all encompassing.
♦ EE’s Hire into other disciplines – This is a very good option. Electrical engineering is among the most diversifiable disciplines in that an electrical engineer can become a Aerospace engineer, biomedical engineer, nuclear engineer, etc. EE’s can stretch into other industries with ease.
♦ EE’s gain experience faster to be considered more than entry level – This is a little bit of a spin off of the idea of gaining a masters first, but lead me into another kind of abnormal idea. One might use virtual reality to enhance ones career. VR advancement permitting job training can be expedited for students in simulations. Take nuclear reactor operators, they use simulators for training before ever touching the controls. Image if they had to learn on the job, it make take years before they ever touch a particular control. This idea is also not as feasible as I would like, because there is still so much growing to be done in the virtual reality industry. Oculus Rift hurry up.
♦ Guarantee from School – A guarantee would be nice since its like 20k to get a semi-decent education.
♦ Double Major to increase hiring chances – Not a solution to this problem
♦ Government holds EDU institutions more accountable – This is the real reason the problem exist. There is an incompatibility between the job industry and the education industry supply and demand. Education institutions have a knack for advertising programs that are not needing a ton more people.
Whittled Test solutions:
♦ Recommend masters before pursuing career
♦ Educate electrical engineers for cross discipline functions
♦ Expedited Experience
Essentially, to close the gap on the feasible remaining corrective actions that help electrical engineering graduates find entry level jobs successfully, I recommend planning on a masters such that if your job goals do not line up, your already ready for the semester. Take a couple interdisciplinary classes in another discipline. I know most students aim for their discipline or do design projects to avoid other disciplines. Expedited experience as much as possible in the sub-discipline your interested in. Go to workshops, attend extra classes, find internships that fit, and network with people that know people at the place you want to work, which is important for gaining non-work experience. Obtain show and tell, “I have this experience” works. If virtual reality catches up with my ideas then learn as much as you can on you targeted job.
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