Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams before doing work
  • Install and maintain wiring and lighting systems
  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identify electrical problems with a variety of testing devices
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools
  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electric Code
  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. Electricians do both the installing and maintaining of electrical systems.

Installing electrical systems is less complicated than maintaining older equipment. This is because it is easier to get to electrical wiring during construction. Maintaining older equipment, however, involves identifying problems and repairing malfunctioning equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Electricians doing maintenance work may need to fix or replace outlets, circuit breakers, motors, or robotic control systems.

Electricians read blueprints, which are technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of hand and power tools, such as pipe benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used hand and power tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work independently, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems in new construction. Some electricians also may consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

The following are examples of occupational specialties:

Inside electricians maintain and repair large motors, equipment, and control systems in businesses and factories. They use their knowledge of electrical systems to help these facilities run safely and efficiently. Some also install the wiring for businesses and factories that are being built. To minimize equipment failure, inside electricians often perform scheduled maintenance.   

Residential electricians install wiring and troubleshoot electrical problems in peoples' homes. Those who work in new-home construction install outlets and provide access to power where needed. Those who work in maintenance and remodeling repair and replace faulty equipment. For example, if a circuit breaker is tripped, electricians determine the reason and fix it.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, coordinate, and direct activities in architecture and engineering, including research and development in these fields.

Architectural and engineering managers typically do the following:

  • Make detailed plans to reach technical goals, such as development of new products and designs
  • Manage research and development teams that produce new products, processes, or designs, or improve existing ones
  • Check the technical accuracy of the work and soundness of the methods their staff uses
  • Direct and coordinate the design of equipment and machinery
  • Confer with other levels of management on architectural and engineering activities
  • Propose budgets for projects and programs and determine staff, training, and equipment needs
  • Hire, assign, and supervise staff

Architectural and engineering managers use their knowledge in architecture or engineering to oversee a variety of activities. They determine technical goals, such as improving manufacturing or building processes, or developing new products or designs, and then they make detailed plans to accomplish these goals.

They may direct and coordinate production, operations, quality assurance, testing, or maintenance in industrial plants. They may develop the overall concepts of a new product or identify technical problems preventing the completion of a project.

Architectural and engineering managers must know how to budget, hire, and supervise. They propose budgets for projects and programs and determine staff, training, and equipment needs. Architectural and engineering managers hire and assign people to carry out specific parts of each project. They supervise the work of these employees and set administrative procedures, policies, or standards, such as environmental standards.

Architectural and engineering managers spend a great deal of time coordinating the activities of their unit with the activities of other units or organizations. They confer with other managers, including financial, production, and marketing managers, and with contractors and equipment and materials suppliers.


Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams before doing work
  • Install and maintain wiring and lighting systems
  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identify electrical problems with a variety of testing devices
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools
  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electric Code
  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. Electricians do both the installing and maintaining of electrical systems.

Installing electrical systems is less complicated than maintaining older equipment. This is because it is easier to get to electrical wiring during construction. Maintaining older equipment, however, involves identifying problems and repairing malfunctioning equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Electricians doing maintenance work may need to fix or replace outlets, circuit breakers, motors, or robotic control systems.

Electricians read blueprints, which are technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of hand and power tools, such as pipe benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used hand and power tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work independently, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems in new construction. Some electricians also may consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

The following are examples of occupational specialties:

Inside electricians maintain and repair large motors, equipment, and control systems in businesses and factories. They use their knowledge of electrical systems to help these facilities run safely and efficiently. Some also install the wiring for businesses and factories that are being built. To minimize equipment failure, inside electricians often perform scheduled maintenance.   

Residential electricians install wiring and troubleshoot electrical problems in peoples' homes. Those who work in new-home construction install outlets and provide access to power where needed. Those who work in maintenance and remodeling repair and replace faulty equipment. For example, if a circuit breaker is tripped, electricians determine the reason and fix it.


Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They devise efficient ways to use workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Industrial engineers typically do the following:

  • Review production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information to understand manufacturing and service methods and activities
  • Figure out how to manufacture parts or products or deliver services with maximum efficiency
  • Develop management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient
  • Enact quality control procedures to resolve production problems or minimize costs
  • Work with customers and management to develop standards for design and production
  • Design control systems to coordinate activities and production planning to ensure that products meet quality standards
  • Confer with clients about product specifications, vendors about purchases, management personnel about manufacturing capabilities, and staff about the status of projects

Industrial engineers apply their skills to many different situations from manufacturing to business administration. For example, they design systems for

  • moving heavy parts within manufacturing plants
  • getting goods from a company to customers, including finding the most profitable places to locate manufacturing or processing plants
  • evaluating how well people do their jobs
  • paying workers

In all these different projects, industrial engineers focus on how get the work done most efficiently, balancing many factors--such as time, number of workers needed, actions workers need to take, achieving the end with no errors, technology that is available, workers' safety, environmental concerns, and cost.

To find ways to reduce waste and improve performance, industrial engineers first study product requirements carefully. Then they use mathematical methods and models to design manufacturing and information systems to meet those requirements most efficiently.


Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They devise efficient ways to use workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Industrial engineers typically do the following:

  • Review production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information to understand manufacturing and service methods and activities
  • Figure out how to manufacture parts or products or deliver services with maximum efficiency
  • Develop management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient
  • Enact quality control procedures to resolve production problems or minimize costs
  • Work with customers and management to develop standards for design and production
  • Design control systems to coordinate activities and production planning to ensure that products meet quality standards
  • Confer with clients about product specifications, vendors about purchases, management personnel about manufacturing capabilities, and staff about the status of projects

Industrial engineers apply their skills to many different situations from manufacturing to business administration. For example, they design systems for

  • moving heavy parts within manufacturing plants
  • getting goods from a company to customers, including finding the most profitable places to locate manufacturing or processing plants
  • evaluating how well people do their jobs
  • paying workers

In all these different projects, industrial engineers focus on how get the work done most efficiently, balancing many factors--such as time, number of workers needed, actions workers need to take, achieving the end with no errors, technology that is available, workers' safety, environmental concerns, and cost.

To find ways to reduce waste and improve performance, industrial engineers first study product requirements carefully. Then they use mathematical methods and models to design manufacturing and information systems to meet those requirements most efficiently.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters--which measure voltage, current, and resistance--and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and inservice relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers--such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers--specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronic installers and repairers may specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer's site to repair the equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.


Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters--which measure voltage, current, and resistance--and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and inservice relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers--such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers--specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronic installers and repairers may specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer's site to repair the equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.


Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters--which measure voltage, current, and resistance--and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and inservice relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers--such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers--specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronic installers and repairers may specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer's site to repair the equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.


Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters--which measure voltage, current, and resistance--and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and inservice relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers--such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers--specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronic installers and repairers may specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer's site to repair the equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.


Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters--which measure voltage, current, and resistance--and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and inservice relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers--such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers--specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronic installers and repairers may specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer's site to repair the equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians help investigate crimes by collecting and analyzing physical evidence. Most technicians specialize in either crime scene investigation or laboratory analysis.

At crime scenes, forensic science technicians, also known as crime scene investigators, typically do the following:

  • Walk through the scene to determine what and how evidence should be collected
  • Take photographs of the crime scene and evidence
  • Make sketches of the crime scene
  • Keep written notes of their observations and findings, such as the location and position of evidence as it is found
  • Collect all relevant physical evidence, including weapons, fingerprints, and bodily fluids
  • Catalog and preserve evidence before transferring it to a crime lab

Crime scene investigators may use tweezers, black lights, and specialized kits to identify and collect evidence. In addition to processing crime scenes, they may also attend autopsies.

In laboratories, forensic science technicians typically do the following:

  • Identify and classify crime scene evidence through scientific analysis
  • Explore possible links between suspects and criminal activity using the results of chemical and physical analyses
  • Consult with experts in related or specialized fields, such as toxicology, about the evidence and their findings
  • Reconstruct crime scenes based on scientific findings

Forensic science technicians reconstruct crime scenes by carefully studying information gathered by investigators and conducting scientific tests on physical evidence. For example, lab technicians may look at photographs of blood splatter patterns and conduct ballistics tests on bullets found at the crime scene to determine the direction from which a shot was fired.

Forensic science technicians who work in laboratories use chemicals and laboratory equipment such as microscopes when analyzing evidence. They also use computer databases to examine fingerprints, DNA, and other evidence collected at crime scenes in order to match them to people and things that have already been identified. Most forensic science technicians who perform laboratory analysis specialize in a specific type of evidence analysis, such as DNA or ballistics.

All forensic science technicians prepare written reports that detail their findings and investigative methods. They must be able to explain their reports to lawyers, detectives, and other law enforcement officials. In addition, forensic science technicians may be called to testify in court about their findings and methods.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


Environmental Engineering Technicians

Environmental engineering technicians engineering technicians carry out the plans that environmental engineers develop.

Environmental engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Set up, test, operate, and modify equipment for preventing or cleaning up environmental pollution
  • Maintain project records and computer program files
  • Conduct pollution surveys, collecting and analyzing samples such as air and ground water
  • Perform indoor and outdoor environmental quality work
  • Work to mitigate sources of environmental pollution
  • Review technical documents to ensure completeness and conformance to requirements
  • Review work plans to schedule activities
  • Arrange for the disposal of lead, asbestos, and other hazardous materials

In laboratories, environmental engineering technicians record observations, test results, and document photographs. To keep the laboratory supplied, they also may get product information, identify vendors and suppliers, and order materials and equipment.

Environmental engineering technicians also help environmental engineers develop devices for cleaning up environmental pollution. They also inspect facilities for compliance with the regulations that govern substances such as asbestos, lead, and wastewater.


Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians help investigate crimes by collecting and analyzing physical evidence. Most technicians specialize in either crime scene investigation or laboratory analysis.

At crime scenes, forensic science technicians, also known as crime scene investigators, typically do the following:

  • Walk through the scene to determine what and how evidence should be collected
  • Take photographs of the crime scene and evidence
  • Make sketches of the crime scene
  • Keep written notes of their observations and findings, such as the location and position of evidence as it is found
  • Collect all relevant physical evidence, including weapons, fingerprints, and bodily fluids
  • Catalog and preserve evidence before transferring it to a crime lab

Crime scene investigators may use tweezers, black lights, and specialized kits to identify and collect evidence. In addition to processing crime scenes, they may also attend autopsies.

In laboratories, forensic science technicians typically do the following:

  • Identify and classify crime scene evidence through scientific analysis
  • Explore possible links between suspects and criminal activity using the results of chemical and physical analyses
  • Consult with experts in related or specialized fields, such as toxicology, about the evidence and their findings
  • Reconstruct crime scenes based on scientific findings

Forensic science technicians reconstruct crime scenes by carefully studying information gathered by investigators and conducting scientific tests on physical evidence. For example, lab technicians may look at photographs of blood splatter patterns and conduct ballistics tests on bullets found at the crime scene to determine the direction from which a shot was fired.

Forensic science technicians who work in laboratories use chemicals and laboratory equipment such as microscopes when analyzing evidence. They also use computer databases to examine fingerprints, DNA, and other evidence collected at crime scenes in order to match them to people and things that have already been identified. Most forensic science technicians who perform laboratory analysis specialize in a specific type of evidence analysis, such as DNA or ballistics.

All forensic science technicians prepare written reports that detail their findings and investigative methods. They must be able to explain their reports to lawyers, detectives, and other law enforcement officials. In addition, forensic science technicians may be called to testify in court about their findings and methods.


Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians help investigate crimes by collecting and analyzing physical evidence. Most technicians specialize in either crime scene investigation or laboratory analysis.

At crime scenes, forensic science technicians, also known as crime scene investigators, typically do the following:

  • Walk through the scene to determine what and how evidence should be collected
  • Take photographs of the crime scene and evidence
  • Make sketches of the crime scene
  • Keep written notes of their observations and findings, such as the location and position of evidence as it is found
  • Collect all relevant physical evidence, including weapons, fingerprints, and bodily fluids
  • Catalog and preserve evidence before transferring it to a crime lab

Crime scene investigators may use tweezers, black lights, and specialized kits to identify and collect evidence. In addition to processing crime scenes, they may also attend autopsies.

In laboratories, forensic science technicians typically do the following:

  • Identify and classify crime scene evidence through scientific analysis
  • Explore possible links between suspects and criminal activity using the results of chemical and physical analyses
  • Consult with experts in related or specialized fields, such as toxicology, about the evidence and their findings
  • Reconstruct crime scenes based on scientific findings

Forensic science technicians reconstruct crime scenes by carefully studying information gathered by investigators and conducting scientific tests on physical evidence. For example, lab technicians may look at photographs of blood splatter patterns and conduct ballistics tests on bullets found at the crime scene to determine the direction from which a shot was fired.

Forensic science technicians who work in laboratories use chemicals and laboratory equipment such as microscopes when analyzing evidence. They also use computer databases to examine fingerprints, DNA, and other evidence collected at crime scenes in order to match them to people and things that have already been identified. Most forensic science technicians who perform laboratory analysis specialize in a specific type of evidence analysis, such as DNA or ballistics.

All forensic science technicians prepare written reports that detail their findings and investigative methods. They must be able to explain their reports to lawyers, detectives, and other law enforcement officials. In addition, forensic science technicians may be called to testify in court about their findings and methods.


Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They devise efficient ways to use workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Industrial engineers typically do the following:

  • Review production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information to understand manufacturing and service methods and activities
  • Figure out how to manufacture parts or products or deliver services with maximum efficiency
  • Develop management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient
  • Enact quality control procedures to resolve production problems or minimize costs
  • Work with customers and management to develop standards for design and production
  • Design control systems to coordinate activities and production planning to ensure that products meet quality standards
  • Confer with clients about product specifications, vendors about purchases, management personnel about manufacturing capabilities, and staff about the status of projects

Industrial engineers apply their skills to many different situations from manufacturing to business administration. For example, they design systems for

  • moving heavy parts within manufacturing plants
  • getting goods from a company to customers, including finding the most profitable places to locate manufacturing or processing plants
  • evaluating how well people do their jobs
  • paying workers

In all these different projects, industrial engineers focus on how get the work done most efficiently, balancing many factors--such as time, number of workers needed, actions workers need to take, achieving the end with no errors, technology that is available, workers' safety, environmental concerns, and cost.

To find ways to reduce waste and improve performance, industrial engineers first study product requirements carefully. Then they use mathematical methods and models to design manufacturing and information systems to meet those requirements most efficiently.


Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, build, and test mechanical devices, including tools, engines, and machines.

Mechanical engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze problems to see how a mechanical device might help solve the problem
  • Design or redesign mechanical devices, creating blueprints so the device can be built
  • Develop a prototype of the device and test the prototype
  • Analyze the test results and change the design as needed
  • Oversee the manufacturing process for the device

Mechanical engineers use many types of tools, engines, and machines. Examples include the following:

  • Power-producing machines such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines
  • Power-using machines, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning
  • Industrial production equipment, including robots used in manufacturing
  • Other machines inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators
  • Machine tools and tools for other engineers
  • Material-handling systems, such as conveyor systems and automated transfer stations

Like other engineers, mechanical engineers use computers extensively. Computers help mechanical engineers to do the following:

  • Produce and analyze designs
  • Simulate and test how a machine is likely to work
  • Generate specifications for parts
  • Monitor the quality of products
  • Control manufacturing and production

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters--which measure voltage, current, and resistance--and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and inservice relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers--such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers--specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronic installers and repairers may specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer's site to repair the equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.


Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters--which measure voltage, current, and resistance--and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and inservice relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers--such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers--specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronic installers and repairers may specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer's site to repair the equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.


Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters--which measure voltage, current, and resistance--and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and inservice relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers--such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers--specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronic installers and repairers may specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer's site to repair the equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.


Computer, ATM, and Office Machine Repairers

Computer, ATM, and office machine repairers install, fix, and maintain many of the machines that businesses, households, and other consumers use.

Computer, ATM, and office machine repairers typically do the following:

  • Travel to customers' locations in response to service requests
  • Communicate with customers to determine the source of a problem
  • Do administrative tasks, such as completing work order forms
  • Use a variety of tools, such as a multimeter, to help diagnose the problem
  • Install large equipment, such as mainframe computers and ATMs
  • Explain the basic functions of machines and equipment to customers
  • Replace malfunctioning machine parts, such as video cards in desktop computers or keypads on ATM machines
  • Provide preventative maintenance, such as cleaning the internal parts of machines
  • Test newly installed systems to make sure they work properly

In most cases, machines do not break down entirely. Often just one broken part can keep a machine from working properly. Repairers often fix machines by replacing these parts and other defective equipment because it is often less expensive than replacing the entire machine.

Although the work of computer, ATM, and office machine repairers is very similar, the exact tasks differ depending on the type of equipment. For example, computer repairers often must replace desktop parts, such as a motherboard, because of hardware failure. ATM repairers may replace a worn magnetic head on a card reader to allow an ATM to recognize customers' bank cards. Office machine repairers replace parts of office machines that break down from general wear and tear, such as the printheads of inkjet printers.

Some repairers have assigned areas where they do preventive maintenance on a regular basis.

Computer repairers service and repair computer parts, network connections, and computer equipment, such as an external hard drive or computer monitor. Computer repairers must be familiar with various operating systems and commonly used software packages. Some work from repair shops, while others travel to customers' locations.

ATM repairers install and repair automated teller machines and, increasingly, electronic kiosks. They often work with a network of ATMs and travel to ATM locations when they are alerted to a malfunction.

Office machine repairers fix machinery at customers' workplaces because these machines are often large and stationary, such as office printers or copiers. Office machines often need preventive maintenance, such as cleaning, or replacement of commonly used parts as they break down from general wear and tear.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams before doing work
  • Install and maintain wiring and lighting systems
  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identify electrical problems with a variety of testing devices
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools
  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electric Code
  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. Electricians do both the installing and maintaining of electrical systems.

Installing electrical systems is less complicated than maintaining older equipment. This is because it is easier to get to electrical wiring during construction. Maintaining older equipment, however, involves identifying problems and repairing malfunctioning equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Electricians doing maintenance work may need to fix or replace outlets, circuit breakers, motors, or robotic control systems.

Electricians read blueprints, which are technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of hand and power tools, such as pipe benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used hand and power tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work independently, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems in new construction. Some electricians also may consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

The following are examples of occupational specialties:

Inside electricians maintain and repair large motors, equipment, and control systems in businesses and factories. They use their knowledge of electrical systems to help these facilities run safely and efficiently. Some also install the wiring for businesses and factories that are being built. To minimize equipment failure, inside electricians often perform scheduled maintenance.   

Residential electricians install wiring and troubleshoot electrical problems in peoples' homes. Those who work in new-home construction install outlets and provide access to power where needed. Those who work in maintenance and remodeling repair and replace faulty equipment. For example, if a circuit breaker is tripped, electricians determine the reason and fix it.


Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams before doing work
  • Install and maintain wiring and lighting systems
  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identify electrical problems with a variety of testing devices
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools
  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electric Code
  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. Electricians do both the installing and maintaining of electrical systems.

Installing electrical systems is less complicated than maintaining older equipment. This is because it is easier to get to electrical wiring during construction. Maintaining older equipment, however, involves identifying problems and repairing malfunctioning equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Electricians doing maintenance work may need to fix or replace outlets, circuit breakers, motors, or robotic control systems.

Electricians read blueprints, which are technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of hand and power tools, such as pipe benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used hand and power tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work independently, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems in new construction. Some electricians also may consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

The following are examples of occupational specialties:

Inside electricians maintain and repair large motors, equipment, and control systems in businesses and factories. They use their knowledge of electrical systems to help these facilities run safely and efficiently. Some also install the wiring for businesses and factories that are being built. To minimize equipment failure, inside electricians often perform scheduled maintenance.   

Residential electricians install wiring and troubleshoot electrical problems in peoples' homes. Those who work in new-home construction install outlets and provide access to power where needed. Those who work in maintenance and remodeling repair and replace faulty equipment. For example, if a circuit breaker is tripped, electricians determine the reason and fix it.


Health and Safety Engineers

Health and safety engineers develop procedures and design systems to keep people from getting sick or injured and to keep property from being damaged. They combine a knowledge of health or safety and of systems engineering to make sure that chemicals, machinery, software, furniture, and other products are not going to cause harm to people or buildings.

Health and safety engineers typically do the following:

  • Review plans and specifications for new machinery or equipment to make sure it meets safety requirements
  • Inspect facilities, machinery, and safety equipment to identify and correct potential hazards
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of various industrial control mechanisms
  • Ensure that a building or product complies with health and safety regulations, especially after an inspection that required changes
  • Install safety devices on machinery or direct the installation of these devices
  • Review employee safety programs and recommend improvements
  • Maintain and apply their knowledge of current policies, regulations, and industrial processes

Health and safety engineers also investigate industrial accidents, injuries, or occupational diseases to determine their causes and to see whether they could have been or can be prevented. They interview employers and employees to learn about work environments and incidents leading up to accidents or injuries. They also evaluate the corrections that were made to remedy violations found during health inspections.

Health and safety engineers are also active in two related fields: industrial hygiene and occupational hygiene. 

In industrial hygiene, they focus on the effects of chemical, physical, and biological agents. They recognize, evaluate, and control these agents to keep people from getting sick or injured. For example, they might anticipate that a particular manufacturing process will give off a potentially harmful chemical and recommend either a change to the process or a way to contain and control the chemical.  

In occupational hygiene, health and safety engineers investigate the environment in which people work and use science and engineering to recommend changes to keep workers from being exposed to sickness or injuries. They help employers and employees understand the risks and improve working conditions and working practices. For example, they might observe that the noise level in a factory is likely to cause short-term and long-term harm to workers and recommend ways to reduce the noise level through changes to the building or by having workers wear strong headphones.

Health and safety engineering is a broad field covering many activities. The following are specific types of health and safety engineers:

Aerospace safety engineers work on missiles, radars, and satellites to make sure that they function safely as designed.

Fire prevention and protection engineers design fire prevention systems for all kinds of buildings. They often work for architects during the design phase of new buildings or renovations. They must be licensed, and they must keep up with changes in fire codes and regulations.

Product safety engineers investigate the causes of accidents or injuries that might have resulted from the use or misuse of a product. They propose solutions to reduce or eliminate any safety issues associated with products. They also participate in the design phase of new products to prevent injuries, illnesses, or property damage that could occur with the use of the product.

Systems safety engineers work in many fields, including aerospace, and are moving into new fields, such as software safety, medical safety, and environmental safety. These engineers take a systemic approach to identify hazards in these new fields so that accidents and injuries can be avoided.

For information on health and safety engineers who work in mines, see the profile on mining and geological engineers.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams before doing work
  • Install and maintain wiring and lighting systems
  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identify electrical problems with a variety of testing devices
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools
  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electric Code
  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. Electricians do both the installing and maintaining of electrical systems.

Installing electrical systems is less complicated than maintaining older equipment. This is because it is easier to get to electrical wiring during construction. Maintaining older equipment, however, involves identifying problems and repairing malfunctioning equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Electricians doing maintenance work may need to fix or replace outlets, circuit breakers, motors, or robotic control systems.

Electricians read blueprints, which are technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of hand and power tools, such as pipe benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used hand and power tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work independently, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems in new construction. Some electricians also may consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

The following are examples of occupational specialties:

Inside electricians maintain and repair large motors, equipment, and control systems in businesses and factories. They use their knowledge of electrical systems to help these facilities run safely and efficiently. Some also install the wiring for businesses and factories that are being built. To minimize equipment failure, inside electricians often perform scheduled maintenance.   

Residential electricians install wiring and troubleshoot electrical problems in peoples' homes. Those who work in new-home construction install outlets and provide access to power where needed. Those who work in maintenance and remodeling repair and replace faulty equipment. For example, if a circuit breaker is tripped, electricians determine the reason and fix it.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams before doing work
  • Install and maintain wiring and lighting systems
  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identify electrical problems with a variety of testing devices
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools
  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electric Code
  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. Electricians do both the installing and maintaining of electrical systems.

Installing electrical systems is less complicated than maintaining older equipment. This is because it is easier to get to electrical wiring during construction. Maintaining older equipment, however, involves identifying problems and repairing malfunctioning equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Electricians doing maintenance work may need to fix or replace outlets, circuit breakers, motors, or robotic control systems.

Electricians read blueprints, which are technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of hand and power tools, such as pipe benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used hand and power tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work independently, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems in new construction. Some electricians also may consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

The following are examples of occupational specialties:

Inside electricians maintain and repair large motors, equipment, and control systems in businesses and factories. They use their knowledge of electrical systems to help these facilities run safely and efficiently. Some also install the wiring for businesses and factories that are being built. To minimize equipment failure, inside electricians often perform scheduled maintenance.   

Residential electricians install wiring and troubleshoot electrical problems in peoples' homes. Those who work in new-home construction install outlets and provide access to power where needed. Those who work in maintenance and remodeling repair and replace faulty equipment. For example, if a circuit breaker is tripped, electricians determine the reason and fix it.


Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams before doing work
  • Install and maintain wiring and lighting systems
  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identify electrical problems with a variety of testing devices
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools
  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electric Code
  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. Electricians do both the installing and maintaining of electrical systems.

Installing electrical systems is less complicated than maintaining older equipment. This is because it is easier to get to electrical wiring during construction. Maintaining older equipment, however, involves identifying problems and repairing malfunctioning equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Electricians doing maintenance work may need to fix or replace outlets, circuit breakers, motors, or robotic control systems.

Electricians read blueprints, which are technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of hand and power tools, such as pipe benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used hand and power tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work independently, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems in new construction. Some electricians also may consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

The following are examples of occupational specialties:

Inside electricians maintain and repair large motors, equipment, and control systems in businesses and factories. They use their knowledge of electrical systems to help these facilities run safely and efficiently. Some also install the wiring for businesses and factories that are being built. To minimize equipment failure, inside electricians often perform scheduled maintenance.   

Residential electricians install wiring and troubleshoot electrical problems in peoples' homes. Those who work in new-home construction install outlets and provide access to power where needed. Those who work in maintenance and remodeling repair and replace faulty equipment. For example, if a circuit breaker is tripped, electricians determine the reason and fix it.


Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams before doing work
  • Install and maintain wiring and lighting systems
  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identify electrical problems with a variety of testing devices
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools
  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electric Code
  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. Electricians do both the installing and maintaining of electrical systems.

Installing electrical systems is less complicated than maintaining older equipment. This is because it is easier to get to electrical wiring during construction. Maintaining older equipment, however, involves identifying problems and repairing malfunctioning equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Electricians doing maintenance work may need to fix or replace outlets, circuit breakers, motors, or robotic control systems.

Electricians read blueprints, which are technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of hand and power tools, such as pipe benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used hand and power tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work independently, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems in new construction. Some electricians also may consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

The following are examples of occupational specialties:

Inside electricians maintain and repair large motors, equipment, and control systems in businesses and factories. They use their knowledge of electrical systems to help these facilities run safely and efficiently. Some also install the wiring for businesses and factories that are being built. To minimize equipment failure, inside electricians often perform scheduled maintenance.   

Residential electricians install wiring and troubleshoot electrical problems in peoples' homes. Those who work in new-home construction install outlets and provide access to power where needed. Those who work in maintenance and remodeling repair and replace faulty equipment. For example, if a circuit breaker is tripped, electricians determine the reason and fix it.


Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems. They are involved in efforts to improve recycling, waste disposal, public health, and control of water and air pollution. They also address global issues, such as safe drinking water, climate change, and sustainability.

Environmental engineers typically do the following:

  • Prepare, review, and update environmental investigation reports
  • Design projects leading to environmental protection, such as water reclamation facilities, air pollution control systems, and operations that convert waste to energy
  • Obtain, update, and maintain plans, permits, and standard operating procedures
  • Provide technical support for environmental remediation projects and legal actions
  • Analyze scientific data and do quality-control checks
  • Monitor progress of environmental improvement programs
  • Inspect industrial and municipal facilities and programs to ensure compliance with environmental regulations
  • Advise corporations and government agencies about procedures for cleaning up contaminated sites

Environmental engineers conduct hazardous-waste management studies in which they evaluate the significance of the hazard and advise on treating and containing it. They also design municipal water supply and industrial wastewater treatment systems and research the environmental impact of proposed construction projects. Environmental engineers in government develop regulations to prevent mishaps.

Some environmental engineers study ways to minimize the effects of acid rain, global warming, automobile emissions, and ozone depletion. They also collaborate with environmental scientists, planners, hazardous waste technicians, engineers, and other specialists, such as experts in law and business, to address environmental problems and sustainability. For more information, see the job profiles on environmental scientists and specialists, hazardous materials removal workers, lawyers, and urban and regional planners.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


Health and Safety Engineers

Health and safety engineers develop procedures and design systems to keep people from getting sick or injured and to keep property from being damaged. They combine a knowledge of health or safety and of systems engineering to make sure that chemicals, machinery, software, furniture, and other products are not going to cause harm to people or buildings.

Health and safety engineers typically do the following:

  • Review plans and specifications for new machinery or equipment to make sure it meets safety requirements
  • Inspect facilities, machinery, and safety equipment to identify and correct potential hazards
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of various industrial control mechanisms
  • Ensure that a building or product complies with health and safety regulations, especially after an inspection that required changes
  • Install safety devices on machinery or direct the installation of these devices
  • Review employee safety programs and recommend improvements
  • Maintain and apply their knowledge of current policies, regulations, and industrial processes

Health and safety engineers also investigate industrial accidents, injuries, or occupational diseases to determine their causes and to see whether they could have been or can be prevented. They interview employers and employees to learn about work environments and incidents leading up to accidents or injuries. They also evaluate the corrections that were made to remedy violations found during health inspections.

Health and safety engineers are also active in two related fields: industrial hygiene and occupational hygiene. 

In industrial hygiene, they focus on the effects of chemical, physical, and biological agents. They recognize, evaluate, and control these agents to keep people from getting sick or injured. For example, they might anticipate that a particular manufacturing process will give off a potentially harmful chemical and recommend either a change to the process or a way to contain and control the chemical.  

In occupational hygiene, health and safety engineers investigate the environment in which people work and use science and engineering to recommend changes to keep workers from being exposed to sickness or injuries. They help employers and employees understand the risks and improve working conditions and working practices. For example, they might observe that the noise level in a factory is likely to cause short-term and long-term harm to workers and recommend ways to reduce the noise level through changes to the building or by having workers wear strong headphones.

Health and safety engineering is a broad field covering many activities. The following are specific types of health and safety engineers:

Aerospace safety engineers work on missiles, radars, and satellites to make sure that they function safely as designed.

Fire prevention and protection engineers design fire prevention systems for all kinds of buildings. They often work for architects during the design phase of new buildings or renovations. They must be licensed, and they must keep up with changes in fire codes and regulations.

Product safety engineers investigate the causes of accidents or injuries that might have resulted from the use or misuse of a product. They propose solutions to reduce or eliminate any safety issues associated with products. They also participate in the design phase of new products to prevent injuries, illnesses, or property damage that could occur with the use of the product.

Systems safety engineers work in many fields, including aerospace, and are moving into new fields, such as software safety, medical safety, and environmental safety. These engineers take a systemic approach to identify hazards in these new fields so that accidents and injuries can be avoided.

For information on health and safety engineers who work in mines, see the profile on mining and geological engineers.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They devise efficient ways to use workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service.

Industrial engineers typically do the following:

  • Review production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information to understand manufacturing and service methods and activities
  • Figure out how to manufacture parts or products or deliver services with maximum efficiency
  • Develop management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient
  • Enact quality control procedures to resolve production problems or minimize costs
  • Work with customers and management to develop standards for design and production
  • Design control systems to coordinate activities and production planning to ensure that products meet quality standards
  • Confer with clients about product specifications, vendors about purchases, management personnel about manufacturing capabilities, and staff about the status of projects

Industrial engineers apply their skills to many different situations from manufacturing to business administration. For example, they design systems for

  • moving heavy parts within manufacturing plants
  • getting goods from a company to customers, including finding the most profitable places to locate manufacturing or processing plants
  • evaluating how well people do their jobs
  • paying workers

In all these different projects, industrial engineers focus on how get the work done most efficiently, balancing many factors--such as time, number of workers needed, actions workers need to take, achieving the end with no errors, technology that is available, workers' safety, environmental concerns, and cost.

To find ways to reduce waste and improve performance, industrial engineers first study product requirements carefully. Then they use mathematical methods and models to design manufacturing and information systems to meet those requirements most efficiently.


Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams before doing work
  • Install and maintain wiring and lighting systems
  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identify electrical problems with a variety of testing devices
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools
  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electric Code
  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. Electricians do both the installing and maintaining of electrical systems.

Installing electrical systems is less complicated than maintaining older equipment. This is because it is easier to get to electrical wiring during construction. Maintaining older equipment, however, involves identifying problems and repairing malfunctioning equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Electricians doing maintenance work may need to fix or replace outlets, circuit breakers, motors, or robotic control systems.

Electricians read blueprints, which are technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of hand and power tools, such as pipe benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used hand and power tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work independently, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems in new construction. Some electricians also may consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

The following are examples of occupational specialties:

Inside electricians maintain and repair large motors, equipment, and control systems in businesses and factories. They use their knowledge of electrical systems to help these facilities run safely and efficiently. Some also install the wiring for businesses and factories that are being built. To minimize equipment failure, inside electricians often perform scheduled maintenance.   

Residential electricians install wiring and troubleshoot electrical problems in peoples' homes. Those who work in new-home construction install outlets and provide access to power where needed. Those who work in maintenance and remodeling repair and replace faulty equipment. For example, if a circuit breaker is tripped, electricians determine the reason and fix it.


Health and Safety Engineers

Health and safety engineers develop procedures and design systems to keep people from getting sick or injured and to keep property from being damaged. They combine a knowledge of health or safety and of systems engineering to make sure that chemicals, machinery, software, furniture, and other products are not going to cause harm to people or buildings.

Health and safety engineers typically do the following:

  • Review plans and specifications for new machinery or equipment to make sure it meets safety requirements
  • Inspect facilities, machinery, and safety equipment to identify and correct potential hazards
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of various industrial control mechanisms
  • Ensure that a building or product complies with health and safety regulations, especially after an inspection that required changes
  • Install safety devices on machinery or direct the installation of these devices
  • Review employee safety programs and recommend improvements
  • Maintain and apply their knowledge of current policies, regulations, and industrial processes

Health and safety engineers also investigate industrial accidents, injuries, or occupational diseases to determine their causes and to see whether they could have been or can be prevented. They interview employers and employees to learn about work environments and incidents leading up to accidents or injuries. They also evaluate the corrections that were made to remedy violations found during health inspections.

Health and safety engineers are also active in two related fields: industrial hygiene and occupational hygiene. 

In industrial hygiene, they focus on the effects of chemical, physical, and biological agents. They recognize, evaluate, and control these agents to keep people from getting sick or injured. For example, they might anticipate that a particular manufacturing process will give off a potentially harmful chemical and recommend either a change to the process or a way to contain and control the chemical.  

In occupational hygiene, health and safety engineers investigate the environment in which people work and use science and engineering to recommend changes to keep workers from being exposed to sickness or injuries. They help employers and employees understand the risks and improve working conditions and working practices. For example, they might observe that the noise level in a factory is likely to cause short-term and long-term harm to workers and recommend ways to reduce the noise level through changes to the building or by having workers wear strong headphones.

Health and safety engineering is a broad field covering many activities. The following are specific types of health and safety engineers:

Aerospace safety engineers work on missiles, radars, and satellites to make sure that they function safely as designed.

Fire prevention and protection engineers design fire prevention systems for all kinds of buildings. They often work for architects during the design phase of new buildings or renovations. They must be licensed, and they must keep up with changes in fire codes and regulations.

Product safety engineers investigate the causes of accidents or injuries that might have resulted from the use or misuse of a product. They propose solutions to reduce or eliminate any safety issues associated with products. They also participate in the design phase of new products to prevent injuries, illnesses, or property damage that could occur with the use of the product.

Systems safety engineers work in many fields, including aerospace, and are moving into new fields, such as software safety, medical safety, and environmental safety. These engineers take a systemic approach to identify hazards in these new fields so that accidents and injuries can be avoided.

For information on health and safety engineers who work in mines, see the profile on mining and geological engineers.


Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, or power generation equipment. Electrical engineers also design the electrical systems of automobiles and aircraft.

Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment such as broadcast and communications systems, from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPS). Many also work in areas closely related to computer hardware.

Electrical engineers typically do the following:

  • Design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products
  • Do detailed calculations to compute manufacturing, construction, and installation standards and specifications
  • Direct manufacturing, installing, and testing to ensure that the product as built meets specifications and codes
  • Investigate complaints from customers or the public, evaluate problems, and recommend solutions
  • Work with project managers on production efforts to ensure projects are completed satisfactorily, on time, and within budget

Electronics engineers typically do the following:

  • Design electronic components, software, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military, or scientific applications
  • Analyze electrical system requirements, capacity, cost, and customer needs and then develop a system plan
  • Develop maintenance and testing procedures for electronic components and equipment
  • Evaluate systems and recommend repair or design modifications
  • Inspect electronic equipment, instruments, and systems to make sure they meet safety standards and applicable regulations
  • Plan and develop applications and modifications for electronic properties used in parts and systems to improve technical performance

Electronics engineers who work for the federal government research, develop, and evaluate electronic devices used in diverse technologies, such as aviation, computing, transportation, and manufacturing. They work on federal electronic devices and systems, including satellites, flight systems, radar and sonar systems, and communications systems.

The work of electrical engineers and electronics engineers is often similar. Both use engineering and design software and equipment to do engineering tasks. Both types of engineers must also work with other engineers to discuss existing products and possibilities for engineering projects.

Engineers whose work is related exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers. For more information about this occupation, see the profile on computer hardware engineers.


Mechanical Engineering Technicians

Mechanical engineering technicians help mechanical engineers design, develop, test, and manufacture industrial machinery, consumer products, and other equipment. They may make sketches and rough layouts, record and analyze data, make calculations and estimates, and report their findings.

Mechanical engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Evaluate drawing designs for new or changed tools by measuring dimensions on the drawing and comparing them with the original specifications
  • Prepare layouts and drawings of parts to be made and the process for putting them together
  • Discuss changes with coworkers--for example, in the design of the part, in the way it will be made and put together, and in the techniques and process they will use
  • Review instructions and blueprints for the project to ensure the test specifications, procedures, and objectives
  • Plan, make, and put together new or changed mechanical parts for products, such as industrial machinery or equipment
  • Set up and conduct tests of complete units and of parts as they would really be used, as a way to investigate proposals for improving equipment performance
  • Record test procedures and results, numerical and graphical data, and recommendations for changes in product or test methods
  • Analyze test results in regarding design specifications and test objectives

Mechanical engineering technicians also estimate labor costs, equipment life, and plant space. Some test and inspect machines and equipment or work with engineers to eliminate production problems. They may assist in testing products by, for example, setting up instrumentation for vehicle crash tests.


Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, or power generation equipment. Electrical engineers also design the electrical systems of automobiles and aircraft.

Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment such as broadcast and communications systems, from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPS). Many also work in areas closely related to computer hardware.

Electrical engineers typically do the following:

  • Design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products
  • Do detailed calculations to compute manufacturing, construction, and installation standards and specifications
  • Direct manufacturing, installing, and testing to ensure that the product as built meets specifications and codes
  • Investigate complaints from customers or the public, evaluate problems, and recommend solutions
  • Work with project managers on production efforts to ensure projects are completed satisfactorily, on time, and within budget

Electronics engineers typically do the following:

  • Design electronic components, software, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military, or scientific applications
  • Analyze electrical system requirements, capacity, cost, and customer needs and then develop a system plan
  • Develop maintenance and testing procedures for electronic components and equipment
  • Evaluate systems and recommend repair or design modifications
  • Inspect electronic equipment, instruments, and systems to make sure they meet safety standards and applicable regulations
  • Plan and develop applications and modifications for electronic properties used in parts and systems to improve technical performance

Electronics engineers who work for the federal government research, develop, and evaluate electronic devices used in diverse technologies, such as aviation, computing, transportation, and manufacturing. They work on federal electronic devices and systems, including satellites, flight systems, radar and sonar systems, and communications systems.

The work of electrical engineers and electronics engineers is often similar. Both use engineering and design software and equipment to do engineering tasks. Both types of engineers must also work with other engineers to discuss existing products and possibilities for engineering projects.

Engineers whose work is related exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers. For more information about this occupation, see the profile on computer hardware engineers.


Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams before doing work
  • Install and maintain wiring and lighting systems
  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identify electrical problems with a variety of testing devices
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools
  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electric Code
  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. Electricians do both the installing and maintaining of electrical systems.

Installing electrical systems is less complicated than maintaining older equipment. This is because it is easier to get to electrical wiring during construction. Maintaining older equipment, however, involves identifying problems and repairing malfunctioning equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Electricians doing maintenance work may need to fix or replace outlets, circuit breakers, motors, or robotic control systems.

Electricians read blueprints, which are technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of hand and power tools, such as pipe benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used hand and power tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work independently, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems in new construction. Some electricians also may consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

The following are examples of occupational specialties:

Inside electricians maintain and repair large motors, equipment, and control systems in businesses and factories. They use their knowledge of electrical systems to help these facilities run safely and efficiently. Some also install the wiring for businesses and factories that are being built. To minimize equipment failure, inside electricians often perform scheduled maintenance.   

Residential electricians install wiring and troubleshoot electrical problems in peoples' homes. Those who work in new-home construction install outlets and provide access to power where needed. Those who work in maintenance and remodeling repair and replace faulty equipment. For example, if a circuit breaker is tripped, electricians determine the reason and fix it.


Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, build, and test mechanical devices, including tools, engines, and machines.

Mechanical engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze problems to see how a mechanical device might help solve the problem
  • Design or redesign mechanical devices, creating blueprints so the device can be built
  • Develop a prototype of the device and test the prototype
  • Analyze the test results and change the design as needed
  • Oversee the manufacturing process for the device

Mechanical engineers use many types of tools, engines, and machines. Examples include the following:

  • Power-producing machines such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines
  • Power-using machines, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning
  • Industrial production equipment, including robots used in manufacturing
  • Other machines inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators
  • Machine tools and tools for other engineers
  • Material-handling systems, such as conveyor systems and automated transfer stations

Like other engineers, mechanical engineers use computers extensively. Computers help mechanical engineers to do the following:

  • Produce and analyze designs
  • Simulate and test how a machine is likely to work
  • Generate specifications for parts
  • Monitor the quality of products
  • Control manufacturing and production

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, or power generation equipment. Electrical engineers also design the electrical systems of automobiles and aircraft.

Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment such as broadcast and communications systems, from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPS). Many also work in areas closely related to computer hardware.

Electrical engineers typically do the following:

  • Design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products
  • Do detailed calculations to compute manufacturing, construction, and installation standards and specifications
  • Direct manufacturing, installing, and testing to ensure that the product as built meets specifications and codes
  • Investigate complaints from customers or the public, evaluate problems, and recommend solutions
  • Work with project managers on production efforts to ensure projects are completed satisfactorily, on time, and within budget

Electronics engineers typically do the following:

  • Design electronic components, software, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military, or scientific applications
  • Analyze electrical system requirements, capacity, cost, and customer needs and then develop a system plan
  • Develop maintenance and testing procedures for electronic components and equipment
  • Evaluate systems and recommend repair or design modifications
  • Inspect electronic equipment, instruments, and systems to make sure they meet safety standards and applicable regulations
  • Plan and develop applications and modifications for electronic properties used in parts and systems to improve technical performance

Electronics engineers who work for the federal government research, develop, and evaluate electronic devices used in diverse technologies, such as aviation, computing, transportation, and manufacturing. They work on federal electronic devices and systems, including satellites, flight systems, radar and sonar systems, and communications systems.

The work of electrical engineers and electronics engineers is often similar. Both use engineering and design software and equipment to do engineering tasks. Both types of engineers must also work with other engineers to discuss existing products and possibilities for engineering projects.

Engineers whose work is related exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers. For more information about this occupation, see the profile on computer hardware engineers.


Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians help investigate crimes by collecting and analyzing physical evidence. Most technicians specialize in either crime scene investigation or laboratory analysis.

At crime scenes, forensic science technicians, also known as crime scene investigators, typically do the following:

  • Walk through the scene to determine what and how evidence should be collected
  • Take photographs of the crime scene and evidence
  • Make sketches of the crime scene
  • Keep written notes of their observations and findings, such as the location and position of evidence as it is found
  • Collect all relevant physical evidence, including weapons, fingerprints, and bodily fluids
  • Catalog and preserve evidence before transferring it to a crime lab

Crime scene investigators may use tweezers, black lights, and specialized kits to identify and collect evidence. In addition to processing crime scenes, they may also attend autopsies.

In laboratories, forensic science technicians typically do the following:

  • Identify and classify crime scene evidence through scientific analysis
  • Explore possible links between suspects and criminal activity using the results of chemical and physical analyses
  • Consult with experts in related or specialized fields, such as toxicology, about the evidence and their findings
  • Reconstruct crime scenes based on scientific findings

Forensic science technicians reconstruct crime scenes by carefully studying information gathered by investigators and conducting scientific tests on physical evidence. For example, lab technicians may look at photographs of blood splatter patterns and conduct ballistics tests on bullets found at the crime scene to determine the direction from which a shot was fired.

Forensic science technicians who work in laboratories use chemicals and laboratory equipment such as microscopes when analyzing evidence. They also use computer databases to examine fingerprints, DNA, and other evidence collected at crime scenes in order to match them to people and things that have already been identified. Most forensic science technicians who perform laboratory analysis specialize in a specific type of evidence analysis, such as DNA or ballistics.

All forensic science technicians prepare written reports that detail their findings and investigative methods. They must be able to explain their reports to lawyers, detectives, and other law enforcement officials. In addition, forensic science technicians may be called to testify in court about their findings and methods.


Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, build, and test mechanical devices, including tools, engines, and machines.

Mechanical engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze problems to see how a mechanical device might help solve the problem
  • Design or redesign mechanical devices, creating blueprints so the device can be built
  • Develop a prototype of the device and test the prototype
  • Analyze the test results and change the design as needed
  • Oversee the manufacturing process for the device

Mechanical engineers use many types of tools, engines, and machines. Examples include the following:

  • Power-producing machines such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines
  • Power-using machines, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning
  • Industrial production equipment, including robots used in manufacturing
  • Other machines inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators
  • Machine tools and tools for other engineers
  • Material-handling systems, such as conveyor systems and automated transfer stations

Like other engineers, mechanical engineers use computers extensively. Computers help mechanical engineers to do the following:

  • Produce and analyze designs
  • Simulate and test how a machine is likely to work
  • Generate specifications for parts
  • Monitor the quality of products
  • Control manufacturing and production

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters--which measure voltage, current, and resistance--and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and inservice relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers--such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers--specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronic installers and repairers may specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer's site to repair the equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians help investigate crimes by collecting and analyzing physical evidence. Most technicians specialize in either crime scene investigation or laboratory analysis.

At crime scenes, forensic science technicians, also known as crime scene investigators, typically do the following:

  • Walk through the scene to determine what and how evidence should be collected
  • Take photographs of the crime scene and evidence
  • Make sketches of the crime scene
  • Keep written notes of their observations and findings, such as the location and position of evidence as it is found
  • Collect all relevant physical evidence, including weapons, fingerprints, and bodily fluids
  • Catalog and preserve evidence before transferring it to a crime lab

Crime scene investigators may use tweezers, black lights, and specialized kits to identify and collect evidence. In addition to processing crime scenes, they may also attend autopsies.

In laboratories, forensic science technicians typically do the following:

  • Identify and classify crime scene evidence through scientific analysis
  • Explore possible links between suspects and criminal activity using the results of chemical and physical analyses
  • Consult with experts in related or specialized fields, such as toxicology, about the evidence and their findings
  • Reconstruct crime scenes based on scientific findings

Forensic science technicians reconstruct crime scenes by carefully studying information gathered by investigators and conducting scientific tests on physical evidence. For example, lab technicians may look at photographs of blood splatter patterns and conduct ballistics tests on bullets found at the crime scene to determine the direction from which a shot was fired.

Forensic science technicians who work in laboratories use chemicals and laboratory equipment such as microscopes when analyzing evidence. They also use computer databases to examine fingerprints, DNA, and other evidence collected at crime scenes in order to match them to people and things that have already been identified. Most forensic science technicians who perform laboratory analysis specialize in a specific type of evidence analysis, such as DNA or ballistics.

All forensic science technicians prepare written reports that detail their findings and investigative methods. They must be able to explain their reports to lawyers, detectives, and other law enforcement officials. In addition, forensic science technicians may be called to testify in court about their findings and methods.


Health and Safety Engineers

Health and safety engineers develop procedures and design systems to keep people from getting sick or injured and to keep property from being damaged. They combine a knowledge of health or safety and of systems engineering to make sure that chemicals, machinery, software, furniture, and other products are not going to cause harm to people or buildings.

Health and safety engineers typically do the following:

  • Review plans and specifications for new machinery or equipment to make sure it meets safety requirements
  • Inspect facilities, machinery, and safety equipment to identify and correct potential hazards
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of various industrial control mechanisms
  • Ensure that a building or product complies with health and safety regulations, especially after an inspection that required changes
  • Install safety devices on machinery or direct the installation of these devices
  • Review employee safety programs and recommend improvements
  • Maintain and apply their knowledge of current policies, regulations, and industrial processes

Health and safety engineers also investigate industrial accidents, injuries, or occupational diseases to determine their causes and to see whether they could have been or can be prevented. They interview employers and employees to learn about work environments and incidents leading up to accidents or injuries. They also evaluate the corrections that were made to remedy violations found during health inspections.

Health and safety engineers are also active in two related fields: industrial hygiene and occupational hygiene. 

In industrial hygiene, they focus on the effects of chemical, physical, and biological agents. They recognize, evaluate, and control these agents to keep people from getting sick or injured. For example, they might anticipate that a particular manufacturing process will give off a potentially harmful chemical and recommend either a change to the process or a way to contain and control the chemical.  

In occupational hygiene, health and safety engineers investigate the environment in which people work and use science and engineering to recommend changes to keep workers from being exposed to sickness or injuries. They help employers and employees understand the risks and improve working conditions and working practices. For example, they might observe that the noise level in a factory is likely to cause short-term and long-term harm to workers and recommend ways to reduce the noise level through changes to the building or by having workers wear strong headphones.

Health and safety engineering is a broad field covering many activities. The following are specific types of health and safety engineers:

Aerospace safety engineers work on missiles, radars, and satellites to make sure that they function safely as designed.

Fire prevention and protection engineers design fire prevention systems for all kinds of buildings. They often work for architects during the design phase of new buildings or renovations. They must be licensed, and they must keep up with changes in fire codes and regulations.

Product safety engineers investigate the causes of accidents or injuries that might have resulted from the use or misuse of a product. They propose solutions to reduce or eliminate any safety issues associated with products. They also participate in the design phase of new products to prevent injuries, illnesses, or property damage that could occur with the use of the product.

Systems safety engineers work in many fields, including aerospace, and are moving into new fields, such as software safety, medical safety, and environmental safety. These engineers take a systemic approach to identify hazards in these new fields so that accidents and injuries can be avoided.

For information on health and safety engineers who work in mines, see the profile on mining and geological engineers.


Construction Managers

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from early development to completion.

Construction managers typically do the following:

  • Prepare and negotiate cost estimates, budgets, and work timetables
  • Select appropriate construction methods and strategies
  • Interpret and explain contracts and technical information to workers and other professionals
  • Report on work progress and budget matters to clients
  • Collaborate with architects, engineers, and other construction and building specialists
  • Instruct and supervise construction personnel and activities onsite
  • Respond to work delays and other problems and emergencies
  • Select, hire, and instruct laborers and subcontractors  
  • Comply with legal requirements, building and safety codes, and other regulations

Construction managers, often called general contractors or project managers, coordinate and supervise a wide variety of projects, including the building of all types of residential, commercial, and industrial structures, roads, bridges, powerplants, schools, and hospitals. They oversee specialized contractors and other personnel. Construction managers schedule and coordinate all design and construction processes to ensure a productive and safe work environment. They also make sure jobs are completed on time and on budget with the right amount of tools, equipment, and materials. Many managers also are responsible for obtaining necessary permits and licenses. They are often responsible for multiple projects at a time.

Construction managers work closely with other building specialists, such as architects, engineers, and a variety of trade workers, such as stonemasons, electricians, and carpenters. Projects may require specialists in everything from structural metalworking and painting, to landscaping, building roads, installing carpets, and excavating sites. Depending on the project, construction managers also may interact with lawyers and local government officials. For example, when working on city-owned property or municipal buildings, managers sometimes confer with city council members to ensure that all regulations are met.

For projects too large to be managed by one person, such as office buildings and industrial complexes, a construction manager would only be in charge of one part of the project. Each construction manager would oversee a specific construction phase and choose subcontractors to complete it. Construction managers may need to collaborate and coordinate with other construction managers who are responsible for different aspects of the project.

To maximize efficiency and productivity, construction managers often use specialized cost-estimating and planning software to effectively budget the time and money required to complete specific projects. Many managers also use software to determine the best way to get materials to the building site. For more information, see the profile on cost estimators.


Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters--which measure voltage, current, and resistance--and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and inservice relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers--such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers--specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronic installers and repairers may specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer's site to repair the equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.


Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineering is one of the broadest engineering disciplines. Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, build, and test mechanical devices, including tools, engines, and machines.

Mechanical engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze problems to see how a mechanical device might help solve the problem
  • Design or redesign mechanical devices, creating blueprints so the device can be built
  • Develop a prototype of the device and test the prototype
  • Analyze the test results and change the design as needed
  • Oversee the manufacturing process for the device

Mechanical engineers use many types of tools, engines, and machines. Examples include the following:

  • Power-producing machines such as electric generators, internal combustion engines, and steam and gas turbines
  • Power-using machines, such as refrigeration and air-conditioning
  • Industrial production equipment, including robots used in manufacturing
  • Other machines inside buildings, such as elevators and escalators
  • Machine tools and tools for other engineers
  • Material-handling systems, such as conveyor systems and automated transfer stations

Like other engineers, mechanical engineers use computers extensively. Computers help mechanical engineers to do the following:

  • Produce and analyze designs
  • Simulate and test how a machine is likely to work
  • Generate specifications for parts
  • Monitor the quality of products
  • Control manufacturing and production

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters--which measure voltage, current, and resistance--and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and inservice relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers--such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers--specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronic installers and repairers may specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer's site to repair the equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.


Civil Engineering Technicians

Civil engineering technicians help civil engineers plan and design the construction of highways, bridges, utilities, and other major infrastructure projects. They also help with commercial, residential, and land development.

Civil engineering technicians typically do the following:

  • Read and review project blueprints to determine dimensions of structures
  • Confer with their supervisors about preparing plans and evaluating field conditions
  • Inspect project sites and evaluate contractors' work to detect problems with a design
  • Help to ensure that projects conform to design specifications and applicable codes
  • Develop plans and estimate costs for installing systems and operating facilities
  • Prepare reports and document project activities and data

Civil engineering technicians must work under the direction of a licensed civil engineer. For more information, see the profile on civil engineers.

Civil engineering technicians generally help civil engineers, often doing many of the same tasks as the engineers. However, because they are not licensed, civil engineering technicians cannot approve designs or supervise the overall project.

These technicians sometimes estimate construction costs and specify the materials to be used. Other times, they prepare drawings or survey land. Civil engineering technicians may also set up and monitor various instruments for studies of traffic conditions.


Assemblers and Fabricators

Assemblers and fabricators assemble both finished products and the parts that go into them. They use tools, machines, and their hands to make engines, computers, aircraft, toys, electronic devices, and more.

Assemblers and fabricators typically do the following:

  • Read and understand detailed schematics and blueprints
  • Use hand tools or machines to assemble parts
  • Conduct quality control checks
  • Work closely with designers and engineers in product development 

Assemblers and fabricators have an important role in the manufacturing process. They assemble both finished products and the pieces that go into them. The products encompass a full range of manufactured products, including aircraft, toys, household appliances, automobiles, computers, and electronic devices.

Changes in technology have transformed the manufacturing and assembly process. Modern manufacturing systems use robots, computers, programmable motion-control devices, and various sensing technologies. These systems change the way in which goods are made and affect the jobs of those who make them. Advanced assemblers must be able to work with these new technologies and use them to produce goods.

The job of an assembler or fabricator ranges from very easy to very complicated, requiring a range of knowledge and skills. Skilled assemblers putting together complex machines, for example, read detailed schematics or blueprints that show how to assemble the machine. After determining how parts should connect, they use hand or power tools to trim, shim, cut, and make other adjustments to fit components together and align them properly. Once the parts are properly aligned, they connect them with bolts and screws or weld or solder pieces together.

Quality control is important throughout the assembly process, so assemblers look for faulty components and mistakes in the assembly process. They help to fix problems before defective products are made.

Manufacturing techniques are moving away from traditional assembly line systems toward lean manufacturing systems, which use teams of workers to produce entire products or components. Lean manufacturing has changed the nature of the assemblers' duties.

It has become more common to involve assemblers and fabricators in product development. Designers and engineers consult manufacturing workers during the design stage to improve product reliability and manufacturing efficiency. Some experienced assemblers work with designers and engineers to build prototypes or test products.

Although most assemblers and fabricators are classified as team assemblers, others specialize in producing one type of product or do the same or similar tasks throughout the assembly process.

The following are types of assemblers and fabricators:

Aircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblers fit, fasten, and install parts of airplanes, space vehicles, or missiles, such as wings, fuselage, landing gear, rigging and control equipment, or heating and ventilating systems.

Coil winders, tapers, and finishers wind wire coils of electrical components used in a variety of electric and electronic products, including resistors, transformers, generators, and electric motors.

Electrical and electronic equipment assemblers build products such as electric motors, computers, electronic control devices, and sensing equipment. Automated systems have been put in place because many small electronic parts are too small or fragile for human assembly. Much of the remaining work of electrical and electronic assemblers is done by hand during the small-scale production of electronic devices used in all types of aircraft, military systems, and medical equipment. Production by hand requires these workers to use devices such as soldering irons.

Electromechanical equipment assemblers assemble and modify electromechanical devices such as household appliances, computer tomography scanners, or vending machines. The workers use a variety of tools, such as rulers, rivet guns, and soldering irons.

Engine and machine assemblers construct, assemble, or rebuild engines, turbines, and machines used in automobiles, construction and mining equipment, and power generators.

Structural metal fabricators and fitters cut, align, and fit together structural metal parts and may help weld or rivet the parts together.

Fiberglass laminators and fabricators laminate layers of fiberglass on molds to form boat decks and hulls, bodies for golf carts, automobiles, or other products.

Team assemblers work on an assembly line, but they rotate through different tasks, rather than specializing in a single task. The team may decide how the work is assigned and how different tasks are done. Some aspects of lean production, such as rotating tasks and seeking worker input on improving the assembly process, are common to all assembly and fabrication occupations.

Timing device assemblers, adjusters, and calibrators do precision assembling or adjusting of timing devices within very narrow tolerances.


Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, coordinate, and direct activities in architecture and engineering, including research and development in these fields.

Architectural and engineering managers typically do the following:

  • Make detailed plans to reach technical goals, such as development of new products and designs
  • Manage research and development teams that produce new products, processes, or designs, or improve existing ones
  • Check the technical accuracy of the work and soundness of the methods their staff uses
  • Direct and coordinate the design of equipment and machinery
  • Confer with other levels of management on architectural and engineering activities
  • Propose budgets for projects and programs and determine staff, training, and equipment needs
  • Hire, assign, and supervise staff

Architectural and engineering managers use their knowledge in architecture or engineering to oversee a variety of activities. They determine technical goals, such as improving manufacturing or building processes, or developing new products or designs, and then they make detailed plans to accomplish these goals.

They may direct and coordinate production, operations, quality assurance, testing, or maintenance in industrial plants. They may develop the overall concepts of a new product or identify technical problems preventing the completion of a project.

Architectural and engineering managers must know how to budget, hire, and supervise. They propose budgets for projects and programs and determine staff, training, and equipment needs. Architectural and engineering managers hire and assign people to carry out specific parts of each project. They supervise the work of these employees and set administrative procedures, policies, or standards, such as environmental standards.

Architectural and engineering managers spend a great deal of time coordinating the activities of their unit with the activities of other units or organizations. They confer with other managers, including financial, production, and marketing managers, and with contractors and equipment and materials suppliers.


Geoscientists

Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth, such as its composition, structure, and processes, to learn about its past, present, and future.

Geoscientists typically do the following:

  • Plan and conduct field studies, in which they visit locations to collect samples and conduct surveys
  • Analyze aerial photographs, well logs (detailed records of geologic formations found during drilling), and other data to locate natural resource deposits and estimate their size
  • Conduct laboratory tests on samples collected in the field
  • Produce geologic maps and charts
  • Prepare written scientific reports
  • Present their findings to clients, colleagues, and other interested parties
  • Review reports and research done by other scientists

Geoscientists use a wide variety of tools, both simple and complex. In a day in the field, they may use a hammer and chisel to collect rock samples and then use sophisticated radar equipment to search for oil underground. In laboratories, they may use x rays and electron microscopes to determine the chemical and physical composition of rock samples. They also use remote sensing equipment to collect data and advanced geographic information systems (GIS) and modeling software to analyze data.

Geoscientists often supervise the work of technicians, both in the field and in the lab. They also usually work as part of a team with other scientists and engineers. For example, they work closely with petroleum engineers to find and develop new sources of oil and natural gas.

Many geoscientists are involved in the search for and development of natural resources and minerals such as petroleum. Others work in environmental protection and preservation and are involved in projects to clean up and reclaim land. Some specialize in a particular aspect of the Earth, such as its oceans.

The following are examples of types of geoscientists:

Engineering geologists apply geologic principles to civil and environmental engineering. They offer advice on major construction projects and help in other projects, such as environmental cleanup and reducing natural hazards.

Geologists study the materials, processes, and history of the Earth. They investigate how rocks were formed and what has happened to them since their formation.

Geochemists use physical and organic chemistry to study the composition of elements found in groundwater, such as water from wells or aquifers, and earth materials, such as rocks and sediment.

Geophysicists use the principles of physics to learn about the Earth's surface and interior. They also study the properties of Earth's magnetic, electric, and gravitational fields.

Oceanographers study the motion and circulation of ocean waters; the physical and chemical properties of the oceans; and how these properties affect coastal areas, climate, and weather.

Paleontologists study fossils found in geological formations to trace the evolution of plant and animal life and the geologic history of the Earth.

Petroleum geologists explore the Earth for oil and gas deposits. They analyze geological information to identify sites that should be explored. They collect rock and sediment samples from sites through drilling and other methods and test them for the presence of oil and gas. They also estimate the size of oil and gas deposits and work to develop sites to extract oil and gas.

Seismologists study earthquakes and related phenomena like tsunamis. They use seismographs and other instruments to collect data on these events.

For a more extensive list of geoscientist specialties, visit the American Geological Institute.

People with a geosciences background may become professors or teachers. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.


Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, or replace a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Refer to service guides, schematics, and manufacturer specifications
  • Repair or replace defective parts, such as motors, fuses, or gaskets
  • Reassemble and test equipment after repairs
  • Maintain records of parts used, labor time, and final charges

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers work on complex pieces of electronic equipment.

Automated electronic control systems are becoming increasingly complex. As a result, repairers use software programs and testing equipment to diagnose malfunctions. Among their diagnostic tools are multimeters--which measure voltage, current, and resistance--and advanced multimeters, which measure the capacitance, inductance, and current gain of transistors.

Repairers also use signal generators, which provide test signals, and oscilloscopes, which display signals graphically. In addition, repairers use handtools such as pliers, screwdrivers, soldering irons, and wrenches to replace faulty parts and adjust equipment.

Commercial and industrial equipment electrical and electronics repairers repair, test, adjust, or install electronic equipment, such as industrial controls, transmitters, and antennas.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers of transportation equipment install, adjust, or maintain mobile communication equipment, including sound, sonar, security, navigation, and surveillance systems on trains, watercraft, or other vehicles.

Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers inspect, test, maintain, or repair electrical equipment used in generating stations, substations, and inservice relays. These workers may be known as powerhouse electricians, relay technicians, or power transformer repairers.

Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers--such as armature winders, generator mechanics, and electric golf cart repairers--specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing electric motors, wiring, or switches.

Electronic equipment installers and repairers of motor vehicles install, diagnose, and repair sound, security, and navigation equipment in motor vehicles. Motor vehicle installers and repairers work with an increasingly complex range of electronic equipment, including DVD players, navigation systems, and passive and active security systems.

Electrical and electronic installers and repairers may specialize, according to how and where they work:

Field technicians often travel to factories or other locations to repair equipment. When equipment breaks down, field technicians go to a customer's site to repair the equipment. Because repairing components is a complex activity, workers on the factory floor usually remove and replace defective units, such as circuit boards, instead of fixing them. Defective units are discarded or returned to the manufacturer or a specialized shop for repair.

Bench technicians work in repair shops in factories and service centers, fixing components that cannot be repaired on the factory floor. These workers also locate and repair circuit defects, such as poorly soldered joints, blown fuses, or malfunctioning transistors.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


Electricians

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams before doing work
  • Install and maintain wiring and lighting systems
  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identify electrical problems with a variety of testing devices
  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools
  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electric Code
  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. Electricians do both the installing and maintaining of electrical systems.

Installing electrical systems is less complicated than maintaining older equipment. This is because it is easier to get to electrical wiring during construction. Maintaining older equipment, however, involves identifying problems and repairing malfunctioning equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Electricians doing maintenance work may need to fix or replace outlets, circuit breakers, motors, or robotic control systems.

Electricians read blueprints, which are technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of hand and power tools, such as pipe benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used hand and power tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, and multimeters to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work independently, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems in new construction. Some electricians also may consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

The following are examples of occupational specialties:

Inside electricians maintain and repair large motors, equipment, and control systems in businesses and factories. They use their knowledge of electrical systems to help these facilities run safely and efficiently. Some also install the wiring for businesses and factories that are being built. To minimize equipment failure, inside electricians often perform scheduled maintenance.   

Residential electricians install wiring and troubleshoot electrical problems in peoples' homes. Those who work in new-home construction install outlets and provide access to power where needed. Those who work in maintenance and remodeling repair and replace faulty equipment. For example, if a circuit breaker is tripped, electricians determine the reason and fix it.


Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design and supervise large construction projects, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Civil engineers typically do the following:

  • Analyze survey reports, maps, and other data to plan projects
  • Consider construction costs, government regulations, potential environmental hazards, and other factors in planning stages
  • Test soils to determine the adequacy and strength of foundations
  • Test building materials, such as concrete, asphalt, or steel, for use in particular projects
  • Provide cost estimates for materials, equipment, or labor to determine a project's economic feasibility
  • Use design software to plan and design transportation systems, hydraulic systems, and structures in line with industry and government standards
  • Oversee, or participate in, surveying to establish reference points, grades, and elevations to guide construction
  • Present their findings to the public on topics such as bid proposals, environmental impact statements, or property descriptions

Many civil engineers hold supervisory or administrative positions ranging from supervisor of a construction site to city engineer. Others work in design, construction, research, and teaching. They work with others on projects and may be assisted by civil engineering technicians and technologists.

The federal government employs about 12,100 civil engineers to do many of the same things done in private industry, except that the federally employed civil engineers may also inspect projects to be sure that they comply with regulations.

Civil engineers work on complex projects, so they usually specialize in one of several areas.

Geotechnical engineers work to make sure that foundations are solid. They focus on how structures built by civil engineers, such as buildings and tunnels, interact with the earth (including soil and rock). Additionally, they design and plan for slopes, retaining walls, and tunnels.

Structural engineers design and assess major projects, such as bridges or dams, to ensure their strength and durability.

Transportation engineers plan and design everyday systems, such as streets and highways, but they also plan larger projects, such as airports, ports, and harbors.


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