While engineering as a whole is regarded as a secure and reliable career choice, there are specific disciplines within engineering that, over time, have gone from being in strong demand to having fewer prospects. Within the last decade, for example, we’ve seen disruption to commercial markets in areas like oil that have led to employment uncertainty for energy engineers specialising in petroleum and gas.
As well as external market uncertainty, there are concerns about how the growing presence of artificial intelligence within the industry could lead to many engineering jobs becoming automated in the same way that technological progress led to a significantly reduced labour need in areas such as manufacturing.
With this in mind, this article will explore which areas of engineering are most likely to be in high demand for the foreseeable future.
Which engineering jobs will be most in demand in the future?
Civil engineering jobs
While cities may reach a saturation point in terms of new urban development population over the next decade, civil engineers don’t have as much to worry about as you might think.
That’s because rather than relying purely on the creation of new architecture, a significant proportion of the need for civil engineering is focused around maintaining and renewing essential systems. As systems such as subways become older they to be added to, maintained and meet the needs of the populations using them. The individual pieces of infrastructure that make up our cities and transport networks are continuously at different stages of their lifecycle while reaching points where there is a need for them to be renewed or replaced.
Another opportunity for civil engineers comes in the form of smart cities. With the public and private sectors both looking to embed technology more intuitively into infrastructure, this presents a flourishing of new cross-disciplinary opportunities for civil engineers to build their digital skills and play a vital role in revisiting urban structures to revolutionise the way cities operate.
Environmental engineering jobs
Now more than ever, both governing bodies and private businesses are paying urgent attention to the world’s finite resources and how we impact the health of the natural environment. From assessing habitats and planning how they can be sustainably managed and protected to creating structures that mitigate the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities, environmental engineers have a vital role in managing increasingly complex environmental systems.
Environmental engineers are critical on projects such as:
- Monitoring and taking action on pollution
- Sustainable development
- Water resource management
- Preventing and minimising flood risks
- Waste management and recycling
- Developing corporate environmental policies
With concerns over issues such as climate resilience and freshwater resources remaining relevant over the next decade, the demand for environmental engineers should be set to increase as companies and governments put additional resources into integrating environmental assessments and being compliant with a greater level of environmental regulation.
At Mott MacDonald, we integrate our environmental experts with unrivalled expertise of managing environmental factors across all our projects to ensure we can identify opportunities for environmental improvements and create positive outcomes whatever we do.
Renewable energy engineering jobs
Clean energy is continuously evolving as technological advances and national policies grow investment opportunities. Solar, wind, biofuels and geothermal energy are key players in powering the future with the two most prevalent renewable energy technologies being solar panels and wind turbines.
As solar panels reduce in price, the desire for them increases and they are being installed in more and more projects across the planet every year. It is estimated that within the next five years the need for photovoltaic engineers will be double what it is now, and this shows no sign of stopping as organisations seek to reduce their carbon emissions and find cheaper, more sustainable sources of energy.
Quiet, unintrusive and clean, wind turbines were similarly one of the first steps towards a cleaner future, and this trend continues as utility companies drive heavy investment into this area. Significantly cheaper than other sources of energy, companies and governments are beginning to explore these on a larger scale with the possibility of individual household production in the future.
At Mott MacDonald, we’re committed to using our engineering ingenuity to deliver lasting value for all. Renewable energy technologies are a key part of how we deliver this, and we work closely with energy majors, owners, utilities, ECP contractors, lenders, donor agencies and government agencies to deliver renewable energy projects worldwide. A key example of this was the successful delivery of Block Island, the first US offshore wind farm that has paved the way for future development there.
We provide renewable energy engineers with opportunities to apply their expertise to high-profile projects with an international network of expertise behind them. This is just one of the ways we’ll help you enjoy a secure and rewarding engineering career.
Digital and software engineering jobs
Technology no longer operates just as a separate discipline but is integrated into all aspects of engineering design, planning, operations and maintenance. That could include the design and commercial production of digital devices and appliances, control systems for defence, power plants, aerospace and smart city infrastructure.
For wider engineering disciplines, digital engineers allow projects to make use of simulations, models, analysis and big data insights which support resource planning and costings, reduces wastage and allows projects to come to life for the client as early as possible with richly detailed computer-aided design.
this means that if you’re an engineer with capabilities in software, hardware, and data management, your expertise will be in high demand in whichever industry you want to specialise.
We’re constantly looking for new capabilities and insight that can evolve and expand with the wider industry in which we operate. More than ever before, digital technology provides us with opportunities to deliver more large-scale, complex projects that set the standard for our industry and improve the experiences of our engineers by eliminating menial tasks that allow them to be more hands-on with the tasks that require human judgment and expertise.
Join us in digital engineering to be part of ambitious and far-reaching projects that transform the experience of clients and colleagues.
Material engineering jobs
As technologies advance in the future, one supporting area that will remain in high demand will be material engineering. This field is focused on materials such as plastics, metals, minerals and ceramics, and making them more suited to their uses. This can be anything from making them stronger, to making them more conductive. There are a huge variety of areas within this field, from a molecular focus on polymers in plastics to mining more efficient with metallurgy expertise.
We’re recognised for research-driven development and the application of novel and advanced repair and remediation techniques, particularly with corrosion technology, that puts us in a strong position to deliver robust solutions for unusual problems. Join us to be part of an award-winning team who create long-lasting and durable solutions.
While economic context and markets may fluctuate, engineering roles are invaluable in giving societies the tools and solutions to turn visions of the future into a reality. Similarly, while there is the risk of specialising in an area that becomes less necessary, the analytical outlook and in-depth understanding of complex systems provided by engineering are valued by employers throughout different industries, so there will always be a demand for your skills.
We take into consideration changing markets and developments when supporting our people, their careers, and learning and development opportunities. Bespoke development plans formed in conversation with our engineers means that they can feel confident when gaining relevant skills and expertise as they make their way forward.
For those taking their first steps into their engineering careers, we also have award-winning graduate schemes across a range of disciplines that offer a secure and supportive framework for the early stages of your career as you prepare for the future.