Careers in some engineering disciplines are among the hottest in the Seattle area. The fields of biomedical and civil engineering and environmental engineering technicians are particularly booming.
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in some engineering disciplines are among the hottest. The fields of biomedical and civil engineering and environmental engineering technicians are particularly booming; the BLS projects growth of 18 percent to 27 percent in those areas through 2022.
So what’s it like to be an up-and-coming engineer in the Seattle area? Here’s a look.
Name: Jason McKee
Job: Project engineer at Gravitec Systems, Inc., Poulsbo
The work: McKee’s work is split into different areas: design and drafting, project management, and installation. Engineers who work at Gravitec are contracted to perform site surveys, and design and fabricate customized systems for challenging fall hazards. They look at building exteriors and interiors and many other structures where people need to be protected from height.
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Education and training: McKee earned an associate degree in applied science with an emphasis in computer drafting from John Wood Community College in Quincy, Ill., and a Bachelor of Science in architectural engineering with a structural option from the University of Wyoming in 2005. McKee then worked for a Denver manufacturing company.
Best aspects of the job: “At my job in Colorado, I’d do the drawings and that was it,” he says. “Here, everything is start to finish. It’s rare that you can design and install in the same firm, and I value that.”
Biggest challenge: “Whatever site you’re at, it’s never a straightforward process,” says McKee. “You have to be creative, get together, collaborate and bend minds.”
Annual BLS mean local wage for civil engineers in 2012: $86,410
Name: Alex Esibov
Job: Associate research engineer at Physio-Control in Redmond
The work: Redmond-based Physio-Control makes defibrillators and other emergency-medical-response solutions. As part of the research group, Esibov works on improving the science around resuscitation, including data analysis, experiment design and writing research papers.
Education and training: Esibov received a Bachelor of Science degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington in 2013. During his junior year, Esibov landed an internship at Physio-Control, which then led to his full-time job. “I was involved in math competitions as a kid,” says Esibov. “I always knew I would go into engineering, so it was just a matter of picking which field.”
Best aspects of the job: “There’s a direct connection between the products I work on and saving lives,” says Esibov. Also high on the list: mentorship, teamwork and collaboration with schools and research facilities.
Biggest challenge: “Working for a company is different than being in school,” he says. “I’m still focused on academic research, but now I get to see how it all plays into the product, including manufacturing, sales, marketing and the rest of [research and development].”
Annual BLS mean local wage for biomedical engineers in 2012: $84,200
Environmental engineering technician
Name: Renee Vandermause
Job: Civil engineer 1 at Tetra Tech in Seattle
The work: A mix of office work (research, analyzing data, mapmaking, creating figures for reports) and fieldwork (taking measurements, collecting samples, hiking in the woods, getting in and out of boats). “It varies,” she says. “When you’re entry level, people tell you what to do, and you do that.”
Education and training: Vandermause received a Bachelor of Science in civil and environmental engineering from Seattle University in 2012. Similar to many entry-level engineers, Vandermause is classified as an EIT– Engineer in Training. After four or more years of experience on the job, she can apply to take the Professional Engineering exam; once she passes, she will be eligible to put her stamp on engineering projects.
Best aspects of the job: Interaction with colleagues, including scientists and biologists. “We all share a passion for the environment,” she says. “One of the best parts of being out in the field is the opportunity to travel and engage outside of the office.”
Biggest challenge: “In school, you study a small percentage of the iceberg,” Vandermause says. “In the work environment, there’s so much more out there. It was startling at first, but now I know it’s just part of the trade.”
Annual BLS mean local wage for environmental engineering technicians in 2012: $60,640