Engineering programs and careers cover a range of specializations including civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical. Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) surveys show unemployment rates and earnings in all engineering fields being as or more favourable than for the economy as a whole.
Although work prospects for engineers are expected to improve, and competition among new graduates is considered to be weak, each area is affected differently by the economy.
Canada's Best Career Guide predicts that most engineering jobs will continue to be in demand in the future. However, author Frank Feather -- reported to be Canada's leading business futurist -- suggests that the best bets in engineering careers for 2000-2010 are in the areas of plastics and new materials, hazardous waste, environment, robotics, optical and marine engineering.
HRDC statistics indicate that higher than average numbers of engineering graduates in all areas find full-time work, and that most engineers were satisfied with their career choice: 95 percent for civil engineers, 93 percent for electrical engineers, 90 percent for mechanical and so on.
In general, engineers would choose the same education program again, and above average numbers felt their work directly matched their training. In civil engineering in particular, a significantly smaller than average number felt they were overqualified for the work they were doing.
According to HRDC most civil engineering graduates find work in engineering firms or in the residential building and development sectors of the economy. Civil engineer wages were slightly higher than the average wage for other graduates at the same level, but the wage gap increased over time and at five years after graduation wages were significantly higher than those of other same-level graduates.
Electrical engineering work is usually in engineering firms or in the communication and electronic equipment industries. The employment rate for undergraduates was two-thirds the average and earnings were higher than the average for same-level graduates, with percentage increasing over five years.
Chemical engineers find work as engineers or teachers or in technical occupations, and the unemployment rate of undergraduate chemical engineers was half the average. Although chemical engineers often started their careers with slightly lower than average wages, within five years their earnings were above the average for graduates from the same level of study -- with undergraduate chemical engineers earning a significant 17 percent more than other undergraduates.
Statistics also showed that compared to others, chemical engineers had a greater tendency to change jobs.
Most mechanical engineering graduates work as engineers, teachers, natural science managers or in technical occupations often in engineering firms or in the pulp and paper or aircraft and aircraft parts industries. Mechanical engineers wages too often start lower than the average for other grads at the same level, but within five years earning are above average -- 19 percent above average for those with a master's degree. A fair number of mechanical engineers change jobs moving between engineer jobs, administration and teaching.
Those graduating from other engineering programs were usually hired by engineering firms or in the electric power systems or aircraft and aircraft parts industries. As with some other engineering professions, wages for new graduates were sometimes lower than average for other grads, but increased over time until they were above average after five years of employment and few graduates changed jobs.