Job opportunities are widening for cleared women veterans, particularly those interested in cleared engineering jobs.  It’s no secret women veterans face employment challenges.  But the growth of cleared engineering jobs continues to expand for women.  Those with a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), or related fields who also have a security clearance have the best opportunities for cleared engineering jobs.

In the defense sector, cleared engineering jobs continue to be in high demand in four specialties: electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, nuclear engineering and civil engineering. Breaking down the four areas, here’s a primer:

Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers conduct research, apply electrical theory to projects, calculate how electrical systems should be built, and use related software. Cleared women veterans with electrical engineering degrees have great opportunities for cleared engineering jobs in aerospace and defense, electronics, marine and power generation industries.

In the aerospace industry, electrical engineer requirements may include the ability to design interface that transfers electricity from engines to aircraft.  In defense, electrical engineers design installations for power, fire systems and security systems. Marine electrical engineers design interface to turn the power of a ship’s engines into a single power source to meet the ship’s electrical needs. Increasingly, defense systems are highly integrated, and electrical engineers are usually required to operate cross-disciplines.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), electrical engineers earn about $93,000.  However, cleared electrical engineers in the defense sector generally earn more. Good places to look: BAE Systems, SAIC, Mantech International, Solidus, Centurum, Inc., A-T Solutions and Fulcrum IT.

 Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers work primarily with machines and tools to design, repair and maintain installations and operations. Mechanical engineer degrees generally include a broad-based education suited for aerospace, automotive, electronics and power utilities.

Prospects for cleared women veterans with advanced technical skills and training are good, as are the salaries; BLS indicates mechanical engineers earn between $82,000 and $123,000. Federal agencies that commonly hire mechanical engineers include the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Energy (DoE), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and national laboratories. Outside of government, good places to look: Stanley Reid and Company, Planate Management, Exelis, Raytheon, Thor Solutions, LLC. and TAD PGS.

Nuclear Engineering

Nuclear Engineers design and oversee construction and operation of nuclear reactors and power plants, monitor operations and ensure safety regulations. However, the defense industry has changed the game with greater demand for advanced nuclear sciences. That means more jobs in semiconductor operations, nuclear propulsion systems, space missions and stewardship of nuclear weapons and engineering safeguards against nuclear proliferation

These positions require a bachelor’s degree, and those working in the public sector must be licensed by the state.  BLS projects that most new nuclear engineering jobs will be in research and development of nuclear technologies.

Earnings are excellent, with a median salary of about $104,000. Again, a clearance makes a difference and sees most cleared nuclear engineers making above average salaries. Good places to look: Sandia National Laboratories, SAIC, GET-NSA, Pro2Serve, PwC, Natural Resources Defense Council and Department of Energy.

Civil Engineering

Civil Engineers are responsible for planning, designing and overseeing construction. In the defense industry, this includes defense structures and facilities, inspecting project sites and guiding the construction processes to design specifications, safety standards and security requirements.

According to a recent Forbes survey, civil engineers account for most engineering jobs, with 274,000 in the workforce in 2014.  Due to the nature of DoD facility security needs, civil engineers are in high demand throughout government agencies and defense contractors.

As for salaries, cleared civil engineers earn between $80,000 and six figures. Good places to look: DoD, Raytheon, Parsons Corporation (with multiple locations throughout the US), Northrop Grumman and Chenega Corporation.  As for salaries, civil engineers earn

A few additional facts for cleared female veterans looking for cleared engineering jobs: The highest concentration of engineers in one place is Huntsville, Alabama, followed by San Jose, California and the Melbourne-Titusville, Florida region.

Currently, about 14 percent of engineers in the U.S. are women, according to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee.  But that’s not reflective of opportunity.  Educated, cleared women veterans have great prospects for cleared engineer jobs, as the population of aging engineers looks to retire.

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Tranette Ledford is a writer and owner of Ledford, LLC, which provides writing, editorial and public relations consulting for defense, military and private sector businesses. You can contact her at: