A new study indicates that confidence in both the broader economy and their own career prospects has surged amongst American engineers, reaching highs not seen since before the Global Financial Crisis.

According to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive at the behest of human resources and staff firm Randstad, optimism and confidence among engineers has risen sharply this year, and is among the highest in any sector.

In the second quarter, 40 per cent of 119 engineers surveyed said they believed the economy was growing stronger, as compared to just 26 per cent in the first quarter.

Nearly 62 per cent of respondents said they were confident about their ability to find new work, for an increase of 11 per cent over the first quarter, and the highest reading for that question since before the GFC.

The results are in line with other news and data indicating that the job market is improving for engineers – particularly for mid-career professionals with at least five  years of experience.

The shale boom in North American, which has revolutionized global energy markets, is the primary driver of increased demand for engineers, with recruiting firms scrambling for a scarcity of talent.

The pool of engineering professionals remains insufficient to keep up with demand, in large part due to the IT boom and lucrative salaries offered by the financial sector around the turn of the century, with sucked away much promising talent.

Richard Zambacca, president of Randstad Engineering, says demand for engineers is coming at all career stages as a result of a dearth of qualified professionals.

“It’s not about the aging population not being up-to-date, or the new engineers not having what clients are looking for – there’s just not enough of them,” he said.

Figures released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicate that a full six of the 10 bachelor’s degrees which confer the highest pay rates are in engineering sub-fields. Computer and chemical engineering occupy the top two positions, while aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and civil engineering come in fourth through seventh, respectively.

Most interestingly, those engineering degrees beat out training in finance on the list, which ranked eighth.