STEM Jobs of the Future: Engineering

Engineering is part two in a new series on STEM jobs of the future, by Ashley Pereira and Jacqui Schlesinger. Read part one, on technology jobs.

Engineers touch everything we interact with in daily life. They design bridges. Engineers innovate new beauty products, and they launch space exploration tools. Dozens of engineering sectors exist already. And growth into new frontiers expands rapidly.

Encourage your career and technical education (CTE) students to be innovators in engineering. Consider the following careers emerging now:

Space travel engineer & flight planner

Many people dream, from childhood, of visiting space. Now, thanks to private companies like SpaceX, that dream is becoming reality. As the world saw for the first time in 2020, commercial rocket launches are possible, and many new space travel companies are likely to emerge. One ticket to the International Space Station can be yours for a cool $55 million.

As NASA aims for the moon by 2024 and Mars in the 2030s, the horizons of space are wide open!

The commercial spaceflight industry is in its infancy, but the need for planners and space travel engineers for space is pressing. Space travel engineers will have a wide variety of responsibilities — from designing a rocket to coordinating a commercial rover launch on the moon — to make space travel safe and enjoyable for everyone.

For high-profile clients, space travel agents will be in demand. They’ll plan seven-course liftoff meals and make sure the rover has heated seats.

A space travel engineer or planner could earn as much as $117,000!

Interstellar city planner

Imagine living on a different planet. Wake up and put on your space suit so you can breathe. Learn about nearby planets in geography class. In the evening, you might look up at the sky to see Earth and the moon far away.

Interstellar life could be the future for much of humanity as Earth’s swelling population continues to deplete its resources. But, before we inhabit these new worlds, someone will have to design them. That’s where an interstellar city planner comes in.

The job will require lots of research and development to help society adapt in different environments. Like urban planning today, this enormous task will require feedback from potential inhabitants and many professionals in supporting fields.

Interstellar city planners will have the exciting task of designing an entirely new and innovative society on a faraway planet. They can expect to earn at least $74,000 with a master’s degree in urban planning or related field.

Self-driving car engineer

Innovations in automobile design and technology are already changing the future of driving. But what happens when a teenager wants to get their license to drive a flying car? And who will fix the flying and self-driving machines of the future?

New jobs created by these emerging feats of engineering will be influential both in sheer number and financial opportunity. For every new type of car, engineers will be needed to design, build, teach and fix. Companies like Terrafugia and Waymo (backed by Google) are already developing autonomous vehicles. In addition to transporting people, autonomous vehicles also have commercial and logistics applications (e.g., delivering packages for Amazon, restocking Walmart after a natural disaster).

A bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering is a good place to start; new car technology engineers might earn a salary of $88,000.

Trash and recyclables construction specialist

The United States is the ‘king of trash’, producing an average of 4.4 pounds of garbage per person, per day. This isn’t sustainable. Trash and recyclables often end up in the ocean, on the side of the road and in overflowing landfills. Pollution harms the natural world and, to solving these issues, that’s where a trash and recyclables construction specialist comes in.

Forget wood and nails. Try reused plastic and reshaped metal cans! Construction engineers of the future will innovate to meet building codes that live up to increasingly stringent environmental standards. A perfect career for those who like to experiment with new materials and work with their hands! Can you imagine taking a pile of trash and creating a house? That’s the future of construction!

Construction specialists need to earn a bachelor’s degree in construction management; they may earn $95,000 per year.

Engineering jobs of the future are critical to the advancement of all branches of STEM. Science, technology and math professionals all will benefit from exposure to engineering fields, as they enter a job market predicated on critical thinking skills and innovation.

These careers represent only a few of the rapidly evolving fields within STEM. Come back soon, to PAGES, a Techniques blog, for our next feature on STEM jobs of the future: science!

Jacqui Schlesinger is passionate about STEM education and career development. As a rising high school junior in the Boston area, she is involved with several organizations including Career In STEM, The Math Club of Lexington, her school’s STEM Education Club, and the Masshire MNWB Youth Committee. She also enjoys playing tennis, writing and exploring nature.

Ashley Pereira is a former middle and high school science teacher, and owner of Career In STEM. She creates engaging STEM career exploration resources to prepare middle school students to succeed in future STEM careers.