The federal government is one of the largest employers of engineers in the country. Many of these engineers pursue their Professional Engineer (PE) license in order to advance their career and take on additional responsibility.
Though the PE license is important, engineers can further advance their careers by pursuing graduate degrees. There are many different types of engineering master’s degrees, so it is important for engineers working in the federal government to determine which engineering graduate degree is most relevant to the profession they desire.
Computer Hardware Engineers
There are currently an estimated 5,152 computer engineers employed by the federal government. The occupation is expected to experience a modest 5 percent growth rate during the 10 year period from 2016 to 2026, which is slightly lower than average for all engineering occupations.
A master’s degree in computer engineering will allow experienced computer hardware engineers to advance into managerial roles. Many computer hardware engineers also choose to pursue a master of business administration for a more business focused approach to career advancement. Master’s degrees in electrical engineering or computer science may also be acceptable.
Civil engineers help to design and supervise our country’s infrastructure. With the amount of investment in infrastructure, it makes sense that a large number of civil engineers work for the government. The current estimate is that 9,105 civil engineers are employed by the federal government. With the ongoing need for infrastructure improvements, civil engineering is expected to yield a high growth rate of 11 percent.
Civil engineers looking to advance their careers have a couple of graduate degree options. Many civil engineers pursue master’s degrees in civil engineering to build on their bachelor’s degree. Though, often times, the preferred degree program is a master’s degree in engineering management. This degree builds on existing engineering skills and blends them with the skills needed to lead effectively as a civil engineer in a business environment.
As the second largest employer of electronics engineers, the federal government currently employs an estimated 17,719 electronics engineers. Despite this high number, the occupation is expected to yield a slow growth rate. It is estimated that there will be 4 percent growth for electronics engineers, which is only half the growth rate of 8 percent for all engineers.
The slow growth rate makes it much more important for electronics engineers to distinguish themselves in order to advance their careers. A master’s degree in electronics engineering or electrical engineering is generally accepted as the industry standard for career advancement.
A large number of aerospace engineers are typically in the national defense sector of the federal government. Current estimates say there are 9,744 aerospace engineers working for the federal government, and this occupation is expected to experience an average growth rate of 6 percent between 2016 and 2026.
Many aerospace engineers pursue master’s degrees in aerospace engineering in order to move up the ladder and into a managerial role. Aerospace engineers also need master’s degrees in order to transition into research and development.
Agricultural engineering is an occupation with relatively low employment, with an estimated 378 agricultural engineers currently employed by the federal government. Though employment is low, the occupation is expected to grow by 8 percent over the next 10 years.
A master’s degree in agricultural engineering can be a great way for agricultural engineers to distinguish themselves and advance their careers in this growing occupation. Many agricultural engineers enter the field with backgrounds in biology, so often an advanced degree in biological engineering can be sufficient enough to move up the ladder.
There are currently an estimated 3,228 environmental engineers working in the federal government. They often design and monitor projects that are focused on our country’s environmental protection. This occupation is expected to experience an 8 percent growth rate, which is as fast as all engineering professions.
Environmental engineers typically pursue environmental engineering master’s degrees in order to advance their careers. Much like aerospace engineers, in order to transition into environmental engineering research and development, a master’s degree is often required.
A master’s degree in engineering can be an important step in the career development of engineers working for the federal government. The most important part of choosing the right degree program is to make sure that the degree is relevant to your specific engineering profession.
Tim Ufer works currently works with university graduate programs as a community outreach manager. He has developed a passion for career advancement and professional development. Tim’s expertise includes career advice, professional development, and higher education.