Almost every product, from cars to
carrots, is the result of engineering. Engineers use
science to solve practical problems. They design, develop,
and test new products, such as computers, machines, and
chemical fertilizers; they also design, develop, and
maintain systems, including assembly lines and electric
power grids. Drafters, engineering, and mapping technicians help in those
Specialties. Most engineers
specialize. Agricultural engineers, for example, design
farming equipment, irrigation systems, and food processing
systems. Biomedical engineers develop medical devices and
instruments. Civil engineers, the largest specialty,
design bridges, dams, and other public works projects;
some plan highways and solve traffic problems.
Electrical and electronics engineers
design consumer electronics, electrical robotics, and
other electrical equipment. Mechanical engineers design,
manufacture, and test tools and other mechanical devices.
Among the other engineering specialties
are aerospace, chemical, environmental, and petroleum.
Drafters and technicians. Drafters,
engineering, and mapping technicians assist in the
development of new products. Drafters use computers to
make detailed technical drawings of products or
construction projects. They sometimes suggest what type of
components to use in a product or structure.
Engineering technicians build models, do
calculations, and perform other engineering tasks. Mapping
technicians aid surveyors, cartographers, and
photogrammetrists in measuring and mapping the Earthís
Many occupations use mathematics. But some
occupations focus on mathematics almost exclusively.
Actuaries, for example, analyze
statistical information to determine the risk of uncertain
events, such as hurricanes or automobile collisions. They
use these calculations to decide what kinds of insurance a
company should offer and how much that insurance should
Mathematicians develop new mathematical
theories and tools to solve problems. Some devise or
decipher encryption methods to protect confidential
Operations research analysts use math to
model complex logistical chains to determine the most efficient way to move materials or meet other
Statisticians collect, analyze, and
interpret data. Some write surveys.
As a group, STEM workers earned about 70
percent more than the national average in 2005, according
to BLS. Every major group of STEM occupations enjoys
overall median earnings that are above the national
average. (See chart 2.) Higher than average earnings are
often an indicator of strong demand for workers.
Like occupations in other disciplines,
STEM occupations that require more education usually pay
more than those that need less. For example, biochemists
and biophysicists, who often have a Ph.D., had median
earnings of $71,000 in 2005; biological technicians, who
often have an associate degree or less education, earned a median of $34,270.
Earnings vary by subject matter for the highest paid
occupations within each STEM group. The highest earning
scientists were astronomers, with median earnings of
$104,670. Among technicians, nuclear technicians had the
highest median earnings, at $61,120. The highest earning
engineering specialty was petroleum engineering, with
median earnings of $93,000. And actuaries, with median
earnings of $81,640, made more than other mathematical
In addition, starting salaries are higher for STEM
workers than for workers in many other disciplines.
According to a fall 2006 survey by the National
Association of Colleges and Employers, students with a
bachelorís degree in engineering had the highest
starting salary offers, on average, compared with students
who have bachelorís degrees in other subjects. (See
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