What Engineering Disciplines are Most Common at Entry Level Positions?

OSPE is often asked what type of engineering has the most openings or the highest demand for new engineering graduates in entry level positions. Of course, many factors influence demand for jobs. It depends on economic issues, location, resources, and COVID-19 recovery efforts.

To offer a snapshot of where the jobs are, we analyzed data from the annual 2019 OSPE/Mercer salary survey, containing data from 210 companies representing over 9,400 engineers and engineering graduates (the survey did not distinguish whether these workers had a P.Eng. or not).

Employers identified how many of these professionals worked in each position, as follows:

  • P1: Entry Professional (1-2 Years Experience)
  • P2: Experienced Professional (2-4 Years Experience)
  • P3: Senior Professional (4-8 Years Experience)
  • P4: Specialist Professional (8-12 Years Experience)
  • P5: Expert Professional (12+ Years Experience)
  • P6: Pre-Eminent Professional (15+ Years Experience)

OSPE broke down data from 10 specific disciplines and produced a report, which can be found here. The observations presented in the report look at what types of engineering employs the highest proportions of professionals at an entry level position and what types of engineering tend to attract engineering graduates who desire or are willing to remain at a Senior Professional Level throughout their careers. These observations may help engineering students and new graduates determine which engineering discipline most suits their career plans.

Note that the full report should be reviewed to understand the context of these observations. OSPE does not promote one engineering discipline over the other – there are many different pathways to all types of careers in engineering and different variables that contribute to the results below.

Nonetheless, Table 1 shows from highest percentage of Entry Level Professionals (0-2 years experience) to fewest. Those with the highest proportions may provide a better opportunity for engineering graduates to start their careers. Especially with Civil/Construction/Structural, to start a career in these sectors can provide the experience necessary to move on into other types of engineering.

Table 1: Proportions of Entry Level Positions (0-2 Years Experience) in Specific Types of Engineering

Type of Engineering Percentage Entry Level Number of Positions
Civil/Construction/Structural 23% 621/2654
Environmental 21% 140/669
Mechanical 18% 177/967
Chemical 16% 41/256
Electrical 10% 93/927
Hardware/Software Product Usability 9% 29/321
Project 8% 92/1163
Manufacturing Production Process 7% 51/705
Quality Assurance 5% 21/425
Product Design 1% 20/1344

Table 2 outlines the percentage of Senior Level Professionals (4 – 8 years experience). The higher the percentage the more likely professionals in these positions tend to stay at this level throughout their careers. These types of engineering may appeal to engineering graduates who prefer to work in more technical environments and are satisfied to remain there for their careers. Conversely, those who aspire to the highest professional levels or desire to go into management positions, may want to explore careers in the types of engineering with the fewest proportions of Senior Level Professionals.

Table 2: Proportions of Senior Level Positions (4-8 Years Experience) in Specific Types of Engineering

Type of Engineering Percentage Senior Level Number of Positions
Chemical 55% 142/256
Manufacturing Production Process 45% 319/705
Product Design 43% 582/1344
Hardware/Software Product Usability 39% 124/321
Quality Assurance 38% 163/425
Mechanical 33% 318/967
Environmental 32% 211/669
Civil/Construction/Structural 31% 991/2654
Electrical 31% 290/927
Project 30% 346/1163

While many factors are at play when deciding which discipline and career to pursue in engineering, the report at least provides useful observations about the most common engineering positions amongst Ontario companies. There is a dearth of practical information about which types of engineering are the most open to hiring entry level engineering graduates. With this analysis, OSPE hopes that it will provide insight for young people and their parents in deciding which engineering program to choose when applying and starting university. It also outlines skill sets needed in these disciplines to show what new graduates should prepare for when pursuing engineering as a career.

Looking to advance your career in engineering? OSPE is here to help.

OSPE has developed an entire portfolio of programs to help engineers and engineering graduates advance their careers by connecting with the top employers and providing all the tools you need to make your efforts a success. Join us at ENGpath, your engineering career portal. Why should you take a look? Here’s a couple of great programs to show you why:

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OSPE is Ontario’s only member-based association dedicated to helping engineers connect to be stronger together. Come join us today and explore all the ENGpath has to offer.

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