Engineers could save the world. Delay climate change. Improve the future, populated by countless machines, with innovative ideas – no matter what, that is your job. Alexandru Predonu of Bucharest (Romania), architect, is already laying the groundwork. He devised a plan for an enormous desalination plant: a giant, circular garden that converts salt water into fresh water using solar energy and even facilitates crop cultivation. That is a true innovation in times of increasing scarcity of water supplies.
From roller coasters to highway bridges, from solar modules to the Gotthard Base Tunnel, from electric vehicles to 3D printing: Engineers are behind the majority of the joys and necessities that make up our everyday lives. For example, many engineers working in the aircraft construction industry are discovering how individual parts are being designed and constructed using what’s known as additive production processes, i.e. 3D printing, all in one single step. There’s no question: Engineers are incredibly important to making business future proof and are more in demand than ever. And digitization is revolutionizing traditional work structures and planning habits. Production, automation and electronics are increasingly merging with information technology. Engineers are largely pulling the strings behind the scenes.
There are a plethora of technical sectors to work in: energy and electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, the aerospace industry, materials production and extraction, the chemical industry, plastics manufacturing, metal processing, construction, surveying, building technology, architecture, technical research and production control. Engineers are also in demand in the telecommunications, consumer goods and health care industries. And the job prospects prove it. There were just under 840,000 workers subject to social insurance contributions in engineering jobs in the second quarter of 2015 – more than ever before. And there will be more than enough jobs in future as well since some 700,000 engineers will have to be replaced by 2029 for age-related reasons. This is according to a report by the Association of German Engineers (VDI) in 2015. The best employment opportunities are found in the energy, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and vehicle construction industries. Nevertheless, there are still too few women in engineering professions.
To keep pace with rapid technological developments, jobs require young engineers to have outstanding expertise, flexibility, teamwork skills and a love of learning. The better an engineer’s skills in IT, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, the better their career prospects. Their capacity for networked thinking is key since content seems to increasingly overlap. Interdisciplinary experience, like the kind biotechnologists or chemical engineers bring to the table, are more needed in engineering than ever. Broad knowledge paired with specialist knowledge is valuable.
Engineers often begin their careers as trainees working in research and development as quality, project or system engineers. Skills like management skills, presentation skills, communication skills and good English language skills are gaining in importance, as is proven experience abroad.
Engineers in Germany in 2016 had the best average earning potential in the chemical industry, the aerospace industry, the automotive industry and vehicle construction. According to a study by gehalt.de, engineers in southern Germany are also earning well. This is followed by those in western Germany. Salaries in eastern Germany continue to be significantly lower. Experts expect an average annual salary for engineers of 67,400 euros in 2016. The size of the company often determines the salary. Starting salaries for engineers start at around 47,000 euros.
Those starting their careers can expect an average salary of 47,388 euros for men and an incomprehensibly lower 41,787 euros for women. These figures were revealed in the 2016 Universum Student Survey for Germany. According to the study, the top employers STEM graduates are looking at are the BMW Group, Porsche and Audi.
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Future trends. Innovation and technical analysis by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
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