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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 10 percent of all jobs available in the United States at any given time can be considered “STEM” jobs, or those requiring a college degree in any category of science, technology, engineering or math. Those who hold three years of experience these fields in addition to a Bachelors degree tend to earn more than the national median salary in the U.S. (for degree holders with three years of experience), which falls at around 43,400 dollars per year, excluding bonuses, insurance benefits and other forms of non-base compensation. Employees in many STEM fields—who hold these specific credentials—make up to twice this amount.

In the field of engineering, specifically, petroleum engineers, mining engineers and welding engineers all fall into the top five fields with the highest median pay grades for Bachelors degree holders with three years of experience. A fourth engineering category—drilling engineer—takes the highest position on the list, with a median salary of $113,900 per year.

Engineering is a well-defined discipline, which means that the specific skills learned in the classroom (in most accredited institutions) will be the same skills that employers expect candidates to apply in the field. Math, science, and technology are much broader categories with undefined skill sets. But engineering degrees tend to translate directly in positions with high paying applications and high demand among industry employers, specifically in the areas of oil and gas drilling.

If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in an engineering field, keep these considerations in mind.

1. Choose your Bachelors degree program carefully.

For some disciplines, any accredited institution with a national reputation will provide you with the skills you need to enter the job market, and from that point forward, you career and your future growth will be in your own hands. But engineering programs vary widely, so choose a program that excels in your area and will open doors for you later.

2. Choose an area of engineering that genuinely interests you.

Wise life decisions rarely start with the single minded pursuit of money. If money plays an important role in your choice of career, that’s fine. But don’t let this metric push you into a decision that won’t make you happy on a daily basis. Keep in mind that when you choose a career, you don’t just choose it once; you choose it every single day, from morning till night, for the rest of your working life.

3. Don’t be afraid to change your mind.

If you enter one area of engineering studies, and then decide to switch to another area or another field altogether, that’s fine. But if there’s a chance this may be the perfect field for you, start here. For more guidance as you choose a course of study or enter the job market for the first time, reach out to the staffing and career management experts at Tech Needs.

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