The Earning Power of Engineers
- Paul Bercegeay (U. Of Southwestern Louisiana, Lafayette, La)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 1967
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 311 - 317
- 1967. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training
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- 146 since 2007
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A detailed study of current data relative to engineering enrollments, supply and demand for engineers and scientists and the earning power of engineers employed in all segments of the economy is presented. Conclusions are drawn which indicate that the serious shortage of engineers will continue and a surplus of scientists will develop. The scientist. finding fewer job opportunities in his chosen field, will be forced to move into the engineering field where more jobs are available. This is primarily due to the decreasing relative earning power of the engineer. Although starting salaries are at an all time high, the conclusions show that they must rise higher and faster to arrest the relative decline in engineering enrollments.
Numerous detailed studies have been initiated which seek to determine future requirements of industry, government and education for engineers and scientists. These studies, which are increasing in frequency and scope, are stimulated by the ever-increasing and serious shortage of engineering graduates. Data available today confirm that a very serious shortage of engineering talent exists in all segments of industry, government and education. Over the past decade total college enrollments have moved rapidly upward while engineering enrollments have suffered a relative decline of about 11 percent per year. Through this period, science enrollments have shown a corresponding relative increase of about 10 to 12 percent per year. Enrollments in some engineering curricula such as petroleum and mechanical engineering have shown actual declines of 200 and 7 percent, respectively. Conservative estimates indicate that engineering requirements in the petroleum industries will exceed 600 per year through 1970. This year, only 298 BS and advanced degrees were granted by departments. Enrollments have bottomed out, but then petroleum engineering shortage will remain through 1980.
Surveys also reveal that 294,000 scientists and 717,200 engineers will be required in this decade. However, our colleges will graduate 313,900 scientists and only 450,700 engineers in this same period. Therefore, it is evident that if these surveys are correct there will exist, by the end of this decade, a shortage of 266,500 engineers and a surplus of 19,000 scientists. This supply-demand imbalance will result in serious manpower problems which will be most acute in the petroleum and related industries.
Opinions, as varied- as the backgrounds of those expressing them, have been offered to explain the situation that faces the petroleum recruiter seeking engineering talent at the university market place. Many factors have received the blame, but regardless of where the blame lies, the fact remains that oil's public image is continuing to drive the freshman away from petroleum curricula and making it increasingly more difficult for recruiters to hire engineers from other disciplines.
This article explores the most important job criterion which motivates qualified students to select careers in engineering. The criterion is the earning power of the engineer.
Enrollment and Placement Trends
Consider the current enrollment and placement trends of various engineering disciplines. Figs. 1A and B illustrate enrollment trends for the past decade and project these trends through 1970. Depressed engineering enrollments began with the recession of 1958 and lasted through 1963. This resulted in our present short supply of engineering graduates. Enrollments are turning upward and will probably continue to climb as projected; however, smaller percentages of those enrolling will actually be around 4 years later to receive their first degree. Thus, engineers are expected to continue in short supply through 1980 unless something is done to reverse the trends. Table 1 provides some insight into division of the 1964 and 1965 enrollments among the various curricula. The interest of the engineering student today lies predominantly in the fields of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, with electrical and electronics by far the most popular.
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