Most people believe the Last Frontier state’s industries are fishing and oil with tourism in the summer. The truth is Alaska’s economy is driven heavily by industries, such as a very strong construction industry, that directly affect the engineering landscape. Greg Latreille, a Professional Engineer in Alaska, said, “the oil & gas, forestry, mining, fishing, and tourism industries are what fuel our economy, but the demands of a growing economy result in the need for infrastructure, commercial and residential buildings, and power generation that make up the bread and butter of most of the engineers in the state.” Alaska’s recent growth has also brought a surge in technology and supporting jobs, such as software engineering.
The Alaska Society of Professional Engineers (ASPE) is helping the state to develop its engineering programs, by both networking and connecting engineers, but also providing scholarships to those hoping to join the profession. The ASPE offers continuing education opportunities, special events, a wide array of products for your professional use and development, and all the while, operates with a constant eye on the future of the engineering profession and society in Alaska.
Some of the larger employers that EducatingEngineers.com recommends prospective engineering professionals to consider include HDR Alaska Inc., PND Engineers, Inc., R&M Consultants Inc. Conoco Phillips, BP, Elaska Native Corporations NANA, ASRC and Bristol Bay Native Corp.
Engineering Education in Alaska
Although Alaska’s educational system is smaller than most states, it has an extensive online and distance learning system. The University of Alaska campuses offer several engineering degrees, including civil engineering general, industrial and manufacturing engineering and mechanical engineering.
With Alaska’s great environmental resources, the environmental and environmental health engineering degrees at the Fairbanks campus are popular with students. Fairbanks has geological and petroleum engineering degrees.
Outlook for Engineering Jobs in Alaska
Alaska has the highest ratio of environmental engineers per thousand workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It also is offers the highest mean annual wage. With Alaska’s growth and environmental concerns, it is a promising frontier for environmental engineers. The diversity of industries and their impact on the environment makes it an exciting career for Alaskans.
The state has the third highest concentration of petroleum engineers per thousand workers and has the third highest mean annual wage in the U.S. for this engineering field. Alaska also has the highest concentration of civil engineers per thousand workers and has the second highest wage for this occupation, according to the BLS’s 2012 report on 2011 occupations. Although most of these jobs are concentrated in Alaska’s major cities, such as Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau, there are companies that need field workers and engineers to support them.