With National Engineering Week happening in mid-February, it is a great time to learn more about Minnesota’s engineers! Minnesota Compass has pulled together a few facts that you might not know about engineers in Minnesota.
Minnesota has more than 30,000 engineers, and the number is projected to grow
Minnesota has about 33,000 employees in engineering jobs, with another 16,000 working as engineering technicians and surveyors. Engineers make up 1% of Minnesota’s workforce and are part of the roughly 1 in 5 Minnesota workers in STEM jobs.
Engineering jobs[*] are projected to increase about 7% over the next decade. While this projected growth is not as high as in some other STEM fields like computers and health, it is higher than the 6% projected growth in all jobs over that time period.
Engineers are more frequently male and slightly younger than Minnesota professionals overall
Eighty-three percent of Minnesota engineers with a bachelor’s degree are male, compared to 48% of all workers with a four-year degree. This large gender disparity is also reflected in the share of graduates majoring in engineering.
Workers in the engineering field are slightly younger than workers in other fields in Minnesota, especially once education is accounted for. Among workers with a bachelor’s degree, 44% of engineers are under age 35, compared to 32% of all workers.
Looking only at workers with a four-year degree, the share of engineers of color and foreign-born engineers is similar to the share in other fields. Engineering is still less racially diverse than the Minnesota workforce overall, but these numbers suggest that this disparity is largely driven by Minnesota’s racial gap in educational attainment.
Most engineers have a specialized degree
Eighty-one percent of Minnesotans working in engineering occupations have a bachelor’s degree or higher, much higher than the 40% of Minnesota workers overall. Additionally, 57% of Minnesota engineers have their degree in an engineering field. Although apprenticeship and certification are other routes into engineering occupations, college education does appear to be the major pathway into the engineering workforce.
Minnesota institutions had about 1,750 students graduate with a BA in an engineering or engineering technician field in 2020, with another 600 earning an advanced degree in one of these fields. These new graduates can help to fill the growing need for Minnesota engineers.
Not everyone with an engineering degree ends up working in engineering
Nearly three-quarters of Minnesota workers who report having a bachelor’s degree or higher in engineering do not work in an engineering occupation. About 57% work in other fields, 2% are unemployed, and 19% are not in the labor force. The employment and labor force participation rates for Minnesotans with engineering degrees are similar to Minnesotans with bachelor’s degrees overall.
Looking only at people who are working, we see large racial and nativity disparities in the share of engineering graduates who go on to work in engineering fields. A smaller percentage of workers of color (19%) and foreign-born workers (15%) with an engineering degree report working in an engineering occupation compared to their White (39%) and native-born (39%) counterparts. Younger workers are also more likely to be using their engineering degree in an engineering field, with 44% of workers under 35 working in an engineering occupation, compared to 30% of workers 35-54, and 25% of workers 55 and older. This pattern, in which people with previous interest and experience in engineering do not end up in the engineering workforce, is sometimes referred to as a “leaky pipeline” for engineers. Interestingly, although fewer women than men graduate with engineering degrees, women who do get engineering degrees report working in engineering jobs at about the same rate as men.
Engineers have higher incomes compared to Minnesota workers overall
The median annual wage for engineers was $85,000 in 2021, well above the $45,000 median for all workers. Engineers with a bachelor’s degree or higher earn more than the median for their education level as well, with a median wage of $90,000, compared to $65,000 for all workers with a four-year degree.
Minnesota engineers work in a relatively well-paying and in-demand field. However, the engineering field struggles to engage women, retain graduates of color, and hold on to qualified workers as they age. Continuing efforts towards growing and diversifying the state’s engineering graduates, and moving those graduates into engineering fields, will help keep engineering in Minnesota growing and thriving.
For more data on engineering and other STEM fields, check out Minnesota Compass’s STEM section.
* In this article “engineering jobs” and “engineers” refer to occupations with SOC codes beginning in 172. “Engineering degrees” refer to Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) degree fields with codes beginning in 24. Minnesota Compass’s STEM section uses a broader definition of engineering jobs and degrees, and so will show different numbers than are used in this article.