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I want to get my bachelors in biomedical engineering. Do engineers get laid off a lot? Is it hard to find a job with a engineering degree?


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G. Mark’s Answer

Engineers are generally always in demand. They are, however, as every other job you could possibly have, susceptible to Parkinson's Law, which, paraphrased, is "The needs increase to consume the available resources." In this case, it means that your employment depends largely on the job you are willing to take. Many engineers are rather particular about the job they take. If you are willing to train specifically in the hottest areas of engineering, you'll likely have gainful employment for a very long time. Many engineers are consultants, and as such, work until their specific contract is over. An engineer who remains current and who has a permanent role in a company will tend to be there a long time. Not nearly as long as, say, 20-30 years ago, since today's engineers are much more mobile, and move from company to company. Right now, the economy is doing very well, and in any good economy, people who can design, invent, and make stuff work, are in great demand. Biomedical Engineering is a hot field. And anyone who is versed in biomedical engineering can likely perform in a wide range of engineering fields, not just that specific one. Also, biomedical engineering itself covers a wide range of disciplines, and is a very, very interesting field. Many engineers move from discipline to discipline, simply because engineering is a difficult major, and anyone who gets through it is generally assumed to be able to take on a wide range of responsibilities. If you can stick it out, you can't really go wrong. I myself have been in at least a dozen project and corporate roles only related to engineering and loved every minute of it.


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Ken’s Answer

The probability of any career area being more or less prone to layoff than another is totally unpredictable and should not be used as a determining factor in selecting a career area. The most important thing for you to determine is how well a career area, such as biomedical engineering, matches with your personality traits. As you develop experience in your field and develop professional interpersonal networking relationships, you will be prepared to locate a position fairly easily if you are laid off, as through such networking is the way that 80% of people find suitable jobs.


Getting to know yourself and how your personality traits relate to people involved in various career opportunities is very important in your decision making process. During my many years in Human Resources and College Recruiting, I ran across too many students who had skipped this very important step and ended up in a job situation which for which they were not well suited. Selecting a career area is like buying a pair of shoes. First you have to be properly fitted for the correct size, and then you need to try on and walk in the various shoe options to determine which is fits the best and is most comfortable for you to wear. Following are some important steps which I developed during my career which have been helpful to many .



Ken recommends the following next steps:

The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. You can locate them by asking your school academic advisor, favorite teachers, and the reference librarian at your local library. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
• It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##
Here are some sites that will help you to learn more about engineering: ## https://www.engineergirl.org/ http://www.futureengineers.org/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43zVcmTJSKM

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Peter’s Answer

Ashlynn:


I had a 42-year career in Civil Engineering, retiring a few years ago. Although this is not in your favored Field of Biomedical Engineering, my experience may be of interest to you, as I think it is generally typical of the Engineering Field in general. I, personally, never got laid off during my career. This is, in part, because I was always willing to be flexible and accept assignments that were not always in my field of specialty. But this also assured that I got exposed to a wide variety of challenges during my career. Flexibility and willingness to try new types of work can be key to staying successfully employed.


I should state that I did witness several engineers being laid off. In fact, I personally had to lay off one engineer in a group that I headed up, when times got difficult. But of the several hundred engineers I interacted with throughout my career, I would estimate that less than 5% ever got laid off. Thus, in my experience, engineering is generally a very stable profession.


Pete Sturtevant, PE


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