Engineers have long enjoyed a market where their skills have been in high demand. The field has required a high learning curve, accomplishments, proven skill in math and applied science, and training from rigorous programs. However, even in the engineering world, change is beginning to catch up, and for a new crop of job candidates, things may be harder in terms of landing a career than it has been for generations past. Here are some of the 2024 engineering hiring trends.
Change Happens, Accept It
While some candidates coming out of school might feel they have been duped by a more difficult hiring market now, the reality is that the factors that made engineers unique and rare have changed. First, the volume of engineers that are available is tremendous. Because the field has been so obvious and lucrative for those who have passed its entry requirements, the numbers of active engineers have increased exponentially. And that raises the level of competition and attraction of the career path.
Secondly, the type of education and engineering skills needed has made many of the older fields a bit obsolete. A good amount of computer technology and software has been introduced in the last two decades that have transformed engineering considerably. What used to be handled on a drafting board is now automatically required to be in CAD design at a minimum. Programs crunch tolerance testing out to the thousands and millions of possibilities, replacing the accuracy of the engineer of what is possible and reasonable in design testing. And now, artificial intelligence or AI is entering the picture, introducing the age of computer-driven design production.
New 2024 engineering recruits and job candidates are facing a very different playing field than their peers of just 10 years ago, and it’s affecting both the jobs available and what employers are looking for going forward.
Expect New Fields to be Created
Technical expertise needed is shifting. The same way that the introduction of the car moved technical ability to engine mechanics from wagon-repair and horse care, technology is shifting the ground of the engineer from the pencil to the software code. This is becoming particularly applicable in manufacturing as well as construction. Engineers are well-served to bone-up on the relevant software languages affecting their discipline.
Additionally, engineers need to be ready to shift and take on new fields that seem like they are frontier activities versus what was learned in school. The boundaries of engineering possibility are expanding again. It’s the creators that are defining the new rules.
In-Office or Remote?
There is clearly a 2024 backlash to the remote attitude of 2020 and 2021 during the recent pandemic. New job candidates in the engineering field should fully expect to be working in-office and being involved in-person. Resources, files, and team interaction will likely be restricted to in-person events, both for enhanced productivity assumptions as well as data security.
Sustainability is Still Hot
Engineering designs and work in the sustainability field is not dying down. In fact, now that sustainability has been matched with efficiency results, it’s become even more popular due to providing long-term operating savings in a number of industries. Those who are skilled in “green” design, sustainability system architecture, and integration of sustainable or recycled materials will easily find pathways into 2024 employment, especially as construction has to be both compliant and look for ways to do the same with less cost.
Diversity is Proactively Being Sought
Firms and engineering companies have long been associated with a singular Caucasian male demographic. As a result, the 2020s have increased the pressure on the same businesses to actively engage in diversity versus passively. The performance and capability criteria still stand, but where candidates are qualified, diversity can be the differentiating factor on who is likely to get hired. Things that can work against a candidate in this regard include any negative social media or online posts from the past. So it’s a smart idea to make sure one’s online presence is cleaned up before applying.
Ongoing Education is the Norm
There was a time when one went to school for engineering once and then worked. Now, ongoing education is a must to stay up to par with regularly changing demands and new methods of design work as well as software. Candidates should fully expect to have to find time to retrain every few years to stay viable.