From the Technical Director: More Reasons Why Fire Protection Engineering is a Great Career
By Morgan J. Hurley, P.E., FSFPE Fire Protection Engineering
For several years, the Society of Fire Protection Engineers has promoted a set of "messages” that are intended to help raise the awareness of fire protection engineering and attract people into the profession. These messages include:
Fire protection engineers are in high demand
A career in fire protection engineering pays well, provides an opportunity for world travel, and gives the opportunity to work in a variety of work environments
Fire protection engineers make the world a better place
These messages are largely targeted towards people – mostly younger people – who are considering a career choice. These messages identify some of the reasons why fire protection engineering makes such a great career.
Of course, there are other reasons as well. Some of these reasons will resonate more with older adults – people who are about the age of the parents of the people who are targeted by the three messages shown above. These messages resonate even more given the softness of the current global economy.
For one, even during the current economic climate, the unemployment rate among fire protection engineers is very low. When SFPE’s biennial profile of the profession was conducted last year, 5.5% of respondents in the U.S. indicated that they were unemployed at the time the survey was conducted. While this is far greater than the near-zero unemployment among fire protection engineers during better economic times, the rate is far lower than the overall unemployment rate in the U.S.
Presently, younger people have a higher unemployment rate than the whole population. According to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, one in five workers less than 25 years old was unemployed in 2010.1 Anecdotal information from schools in the U.S. indicate that graduates with degrees in fire protection engineering have little difficulty finding a job. The ability to easily find a job after graduation is one of the factors that college-aged people consider when making a career choice.
At the other end of the age spectrum, many older workers report concerns about age discrimination. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate among older workers (aged 55 or older) was 7.1% in 2010.2 While this rate was below the unemployment rate for the whole U.S. population, older unemployed workers were found to have more difficulty finding a new job than younger workers, as measured by the median time that people who were unemployed were out of work.
Again, fire protection engineering offers a more promising outlook than other professions. While SFPE has not collected data in this area, anecdotal information suggests that older fire protection engineers do not experience the same difficulties with age discrimination that older people in some other professions do. As with any profession, keeping abreast of the state of the art keeps a professional more marketable throughout his or her career; this is just part of the job for fire protection engineers, where the codes and standards change on a regular basis.
Of course, both of these reasons further illustrate how the demand for fire protection engineers exceeds the supply. These are all good statistics to cite when speaking with people who are considering a career choice or parents of people who are considering a career choice.
"Understanding the Economy: Unemployment Among Young Workers,” U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, Washington, D.C., 2010.
"Record Unemployment Among Older Workers Does Not Keep Them Out of the Job Market,” Issues in Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C, March 2010.
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