Industry Employment Forecast

May 29, 2018

About the author: Matt Barcus is president of Precision Executive Search and managing partner of A/E/P Central LLC, which operates the website www.civilengineeringcentral.com. Barcus can be reached at 888.525.5784 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Unless you have literally had your head in the sand, you cannot avoid the doom and gloom that is everywhere when it comes to the abysmal economy, high unemployment and the U.S.’s failing infrastructure. Quite frankly, even if your head is in the sand, it would still be quite difficult to avoid this information.

That being said, I would like to discuss with the water and wastewater engineering community what I see as I gaze into my crystal ball. Being that I make my living discussing career opportunities with water and wastewater professionals across the country, what I see is more trustworthy, I believe, than a crystal ball. And what I see is good news.

Room for Infrastructure Improvement

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issued its Infrastructure Report Card early this year in preparation for the stimulus package that was recently signed off by President Obama. As we all suspected, our nation’s infrastructure is failing miserably:

  • Dams, D
  • Drinking Water, D-
  • Energy, D+
  • Inland Waterways, D-
  • Levees, D-
  • Wastewater, D-

Job Opportunities

In the current marketplace, even under the existing market conditions, water and wastewater engineering jobs seem to be secure. In fact, compared to other areas of civil engineering such as land development or transportation, water and wastewater engineering jobs are available in abundance.

Throughout the past year and a half, my executive search firm has seen a steady rise in the number of water/wastewater searches that we have been asked to execute. Recruiters are seeing requirements for all levels of experience, from C-level and executive down through the senior project engineer level.

Two hot spots where there will be plenty of work to go around are Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati. In these respective cities, the DC Water and Sewer Authority and Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati are set for multibillion-dollar, long-term projects. Many other cities are also implementing significant wet-weather programs and expanding water and wastewater treatment plants. These high-ticket projects provide plenty of work to go around and are creating opportunities for new consulting engineering firms to enter the marketplace and expand.

Looking Ahead

Seventy percent of the Earth’s surface is water, and the human body is made up of approximately 60 percent water. Providing clean and safe water is a necessity before building new highways or bridges or master-planned communities, so as a specialist in water and wastewater, you are in many ways insulated from this turbulent economy.

A poor report card issued from ASCE in the categories relevant to the water/wastewater systems throughout the U.S., plus the billions of dollars to be injected into water and wastewater infrastructure as a result of the stimulus package, makes for all the right ingredients for continued strength and growth for this sector of the civil engineering industry.

About the Author

Matt Barcus

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