The best jobs in engineering and IT truly are the “best of the best.” That's because each job is not only the best in these technical fields, but the top-rated of all types of jobs nationally in 2014.
In fact, careers in STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—are shaping the landscape of 21st century America, and have become the backbone of our economy.
“The most exciting thing for me is taking a business and increasing its productivity and efficiency through the use of technology,” says Melissa Minchala, co-founder of Data Velocity in New York City, which provides a range of IT solutions to small businesses.
Bruce Clark agrees, and says STEM professionals are today's “modern-day manufacturers.”
As a vice president at Infobelt in Charlotte, N.C., which provides data services to a range of clients, Clark says that having the ability to help companies manage big and small data across a wide range of industries, from healthcare to finance, helps STEM pros play a pivotal role in society.
But engineering and IT career advisers say that's just one reward for those pursuing careers in these fields. There are also many intangible benefits, including “an element of creativity,” says Srini Mannava, the founder of Infobelt.
He says this creativity allows IT experts the freedom to make improvements on projects while also meeting client demand, which often is very fulfilling professionally.
Both the demand and necessity for more STEM-sector employees are evident in the promising hiring outlook and lucrative salary potential for the best engineering and IT jobs.
For instance, a survey by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and other engineering societies found that during the recession - from 2011 to 2013 - the average salary rose almost 5% for engineers.
That’s right in line with the national average salary of $104,270 that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects for mechanical engineers this year. Of the most highly rated engineering jobs, petroleum engineers earn the highest average annual salary at $130,280.
When hiring outlook is added to the mix, engineering unemployment is just 1.9% and down to pre-recession levels, reports IEEE, the world's largest professional association for the advancement of technology. In addition, the BLS projects six IT and engineering careers will grow by at least 20% over the next eight years.
Leading the way with a 27% projected growth is biomedical engineer, a career that made its first appearance in the Jobs Rated report last year.
Next is computer systems analyst, with projected hiring growth of 25% by 2022. The anticipated demand for skilled computer systems analysts is a reflection of businesses’ growing need to increase efficiency, say industry recruiters.
For job seekers looking to enter one of these careers, it takes more than learning the current landscape to flourish. Aspiring IT and engineering professionals need to be one step ahead, says Mannava.
"Adaptability” is an essential quality, which means staying ahead of new technological advancements, he says. STEM professionals can actually initiate these advancements on their own, too.
For example, IEEE’s 2014 Dream Job report spotlights one engineer who is combining robotics and environmental engineering to develop cheaper solar energy.
Indeed, the best jobs in IT and engineering are not just the leading careers for 2014; they’re the careers leading us beyond 2014.
What follows are the best IT and engineering jobs according to their ranking in the 2014 Jobs Rated report:
1. Software Engineer
Demand is high and salaries are competitive for top-flight software engineers. Those with know-how in Cloud-based technology in particular will have a leg up in the job market in the coming years.