by Jan Saxhaug

Whether you’re a student thinking about a career in engineering, or you’re a current engineer looking for a change of scenery, it’s worth taking a look at the opportunities available in Northeast Minnesota. Revivals in the mining and manufacturing sectors –and a construction industry bouncing back from the recession – mean there are ample opportunities for engineers looking to make the move north.


engineerThe current job vacancy rate for engineers in the Northeast Minnesota is 12.3 percent – or 12 openings for every 100 people employed as engineers. That’s three times greater than the vacancy rate for engineers in the Twin Cities region! The job vacancy rate is a good measure for how in-demand a particular occupation is. The statewide vacancy rate for all occupations is 2.3 percent, so it is fair to say that engineers in the Northland are needed.

So what kinds of engineers are needed? According to DEED’s Occupations in Demand data tool, nine engineering occupations have high current demand indicators, which mean a good career outlook in the region. These occupations include:

According to regional employment projections, the number of engineers in Northeast Minnesota is projected to grow by 11.9 percent between 2010 and 2020, with electrical engineers (21.4 percent), health and safety engineers (21.4 percent), environmental engineers (17.1 percent), and mechanical engineers (16.7 percent) leading the way.  This is good news for students thinking about a future career as an engineer; not only are these jobs in-demand now, they should be even more so in the future.

These are also good paying jobs. Median salaries for engineers in the Northland fall between $71,998 for civil engineers and $92,741 for health and safety engineers. Median salaries for engineering technicians range from $47,667 to $60,216, depending on specialty.

Engineering jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree, while technician jobs require an associate’s degree. The University of Minnesota-Duluth offers bachelor’s degrees in several engineering fields, while Lake Superior College, Mesabi Range Community and Technical College, Itasca Community College,  and Hibbing Community College all offer two-year programs for those pursuing engineering technician jobs, or hoping to transfer into a four-year program.

Whether you’re a current or future engineer, and you’ve been thinking about making the move north, the time has never been better. Engineer yourself a new career northern Minnesota!