Breaking Into the Modeling and Simulation Industry
Modeling and simulation is a booming industry and Central Florida has become a hub for innovation. Companies based in the Orlando area are building simulation and training equipment and systems for the defense, medical, education and entertainment sectors. It is an area with strong growth, with new companies relocating to the area every year. From Lockheed Martin to Orlando Health, simulation and modeling is increasingly used to improve procedures and processes. However, while demand is high for employees in this area, many employers are having difficulty finding qualified candidates.
Demand in the Industry
According to Payscale.com, a site that aggregates salary data across the country, the average salary for a simulation and modeling analyst is $85,000, with many making well into the six figures. It is a potentially lucrative field, but companies are having trouble filling vacancies. The Florida Chamber of Commerce reports that, since 2010, the science, technology and engineering field has grown by 63% and there are over 55,000 unfilled jobs throughout Florida in the industry. Growth is expected to rise steadily through at least 2021, so focusing on the modeling and simulation industry can lead to a secure and high-paying career.
One of the challenges is the unique nature of modeling and simulation. While it overlaps with aspects of engineering and computer science, it is very different than those areas and requires a good deal of creativity and the ability to think on your feet. It is a unique skillset that requires significant communication skills and the ability to work with a team.
Requirements for the Business
To break into the modeling and simulation industry, education and hands-on experience is essential. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum while a master’s degree in simulation, engineering or mathematics is preferred. A military background is helpful, but is not mandatory for most positions.
Previously, finding a school with a modeling and simulation focus was difficult, but that is no longer the case. With the growth of Central Florida’s technical corridor, local universities have recognized the demand for skilled talent within the industry. For instance, both the University of Central Florida and Rollins College offer courses in modeling and simulation, with UCF also offering a Master’s of Science curriculum as well.
While there is high demand for candidates in the field, entry-level roles can be competitive. It is typically recommended that you have completed at least one internship before graduating to give yourself the best chance of landing a choice job. Internship opportunities are plentiful, with major employers like Walt Disney World, Lockheed Martin, Siemens and Deloitte often offering internships. Engineering or computer science internships can also be valuable experiences and are viewed positively by area employers.
There are a number of networking groups in modeling and simulation for interns and seasoned professionals alike. The National Center for Simulation offers regular events, from career fairs to symposiums with leading experts. These can be valuable opportunities to meet industry leaders and learn the main companies in the area.
While the modeling and simulation industry has experienced explosive growth and continues to expand, companies are finding it difficult to fill positions for analysts and professionals in the field. They are increasingly bringing in out-of-state talent due to the limited talent pool in Central Florida. Local college and universities have recognized this issue and built curriculums specific to the field, making the area a hub of innovation and technology. Pursuing a degree in this area can set you on the path to a lucrative and solid career.