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Table 1:“Hard to fill vacancies” as a percentage of vacancies in engineering occupations across different business sectors. It found that two-thirds of all vacancies at craft and skilled operative level are classified as hard-to-fill, as are over half of all vacancies at engineering professional level.19 This data is eight years old. The advent of the high speed global computerized communications networks now makes it possible to outsource a wide range of jobs that were previously done locally such as design, research and engineering, publishing, customer service, technical support and some types of marketing. From software outsourcing has migrated to business process outsourcing (BPO) in a wide range of fields including video game design, engineering, legal services, medical diagnosis, hospital management, accounting and financial services.
Science, engineering, and surveying and mapping technicians, as well as drafters, provide essential support services to engineers, scientists, surveyors, and other professionals. Engineering technicians is a broad category and workers in this field specialize in any of a number of engineering areas, including aerospace, electro-mechanical, electrical and electronics, mechanical, industrial, civil, or environmental.
Most engineering and science technicians work in a comfortable environment, some, however, must contend with night and weekend work and with work-related hazards, including contact with hazardous chemicals and other toxic materials.
In 2013, aerospace engineering and operations technicians reported median annual earnings of $62,680, the highest amongst engineering technicians.
With only a few exceptions, real wages for engineering and science technicians have remained stagnant or decreased over the last decade. One possible explanation for the stagnant wage growth in the last decade is the overall decrease in the number of jobs for engineering and science technicians. The BLS projects generally weak job growth for most engineering and science technician occupations. In 2013, the percentage of engineering and science technicians who were union members varied by occupation with two out of the seven occupation categories having above average union density.

A number of professional unions represent engineering and science technicians, including the American Federation of Government Employees, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, the United Steelworkers of America, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) comprises 22 AFL-CIO unions representing over four million people working in professional, technical and administrative support occupations. Our report found that the annual contractor billing rate for mechanical engineering services is $189,197. Mechanical engineering, of course, is just one service of many that the government outsources.
A UK study published in 2000 revealed significant skill shortages in a wide range of engineering professions as measured by the percentage of ‘hard to fill' job vacancies reported by firms. Technicians use principles of science and engineering to assist in the development and production of infrastructure, computers, pharmaceuticals, and many other products. The BLS differentiates the work of drafters from that of commercial and industrial designers.[4] While this occupational overview will focus on the work of drafters, the two occupations share a number of similarities.
Even for those occupations that have experienced growth, when controlling for inflation the wage increases were modest. The number of jobs grew overall in only five of the fourteen occupations outlined from 2003-2013. Some occupations, such as architectural and civil drafters, experienced rapid growth prior to the 2008 recession, but have since faced a steady decline.
Engineering technicians and agricultural and food science technicians boasted the highest rates of unionization with 16 and 12.1 percent, respectively. The enormous significance of this development lies in the fact that manufacturing represents less than 25% of jobs in most OECD countries , and even within the category of manufacturing a large percentage of the jobs are in the provision of services such as research, design, engineering, finance and marketing.

This overview explores the employment, working conditions, earnings, job outlook, and unionization of workers in these occupations. The BLS disaggregates the various kinds of science technician, and most occupations have too few employees to report demographics, however, data are available for two occupational categories.
Hispanic or Latino workers represented 9.7 percent of chemical science technicians and 10 percent of workers in miscellaneous life, physical, and social science technician occupations. This varies by occupation, ranging from more than one in four surveying and mapping technicians holding at least one postsecondary degree to over 85 percent of drafters holding an associate’s degree or higher.
Jobs for biological and geological and petroleum technicians grew between 40 and 50 percent each in the last decade; however, these were both relatively small occupations to start. The number of jobs in industrial engineering however, has been somewhat mercurial, and shows signs of returning to pre-recession levels. DPE was chartered by the AFL-CIO in 1977 in recognition of the rapidly growing professional and technical occupations.
Mechanical engineering did experience modest overall job loses, but the total number has remained relatively flat since 2003. That means a federal employee costs taxpayers just two-thirds the price of a contractor for comparable mechanical engineering services.

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