A career in engineering can offer several fantastic job perks including high levels of job satisfaction, financial security, and an excellent job outlook. Engineering is also an extremely diverse and evolving field that provides a wide range of exciting job roles. Skilled engineers are in high demand and can choose to specialize in many fields including civil engineering, electrical engineering, and computer engineering, to name a few. For those reasons, increasing numbers of students are choosing to study engineering with the hopes of joining this dynamic field.
If you’re considering pursuing a career in engineering, then here are eight tips to help you become a successful engineer.
1. Explore different engineering sectors
As mentioned, engineering is a hugely diverse industry with a massive variety of job roles available. Many students choose to study a particular type of engineering, and complete formal training in that field. Alternatively, you can study a general engineering course and then specialize in a particular niche later on. It is essential that you explore the different engineering sectors in detail, and find an area that will suit your skillset and interests. Pursing a career that you are passionate about will give you a sense of value, and help you achieve high levels of job satisfaction. You can learn about the various fields of engineering by referring to career advice websites and reading articles and blogs online.
Here are some of the most popular engineering jobs to consider:
- Mechanical engineer – Mechanical engineering is one of the largest and more versatile engineering sectors. Mechanical engineers are responsible for designing power-producing and power-using machines. This may include everything from elevators within buildings to gas turbines. They also test different mechanical machines and equipment to check that they are performing at the optimal levels.
- Civil engineer – Civil engineers deal with the design and construction of buildings and facilities. They are responsible for designing and maintaining various types of infrastructures which may include roads, schools, sewage systems, and bridges.
- Aerospace engineer – Aerospace engineers use cutting-edge technology to design and build aircraft, satellites, and other structures found in space. They are also responsible for testing aerospace products to ensure that they meet the required safety standards.
- Environmental engineer – Environmental engineers apply their specialist skills and knowledge to help solve environmental challenges such as global warming and water shortages. Environmental engineers promote sustainability, and have a positive impact on the planet by encouraging the uptake of eco-friendly practices.
- Petroleum engineer – Petroleum engineering is one of the highest-paid engineering sectors. Qualified petroleum engineers earn an average salary of almost $138,000 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A petroleum engineer is tasked with developing new methods of extracting gas and oil from below the earth’s surface in the safest and most cost-effective way possible.
2. Start building work experience early
Practical hands-on experience is extremely important in the engineering industry and you must gain relevant work experience as early as possible. Ideally, you should start searching for work experience opportunities like internships and placements as soon as you decide that you’re interested in a career in engineering. Not only will this help you develop the skills needed to be successful, but it will also allow you to gain an insight into the industry and determine whether a job in engineering is right for you.
Securing an engineering internship can be a challenge and there is strong competition for the top placements. However, there are lots of things you can do to increase your chances of landing your dream internship. Experts at slcontrold.com state that it’s not enough to simply search for formal work experience opportunities. You must be proactive and ask companies about available or upcoming opportunities. Most large engineering companies have a structured internship that you can apply for. Take your time to write a winning resume and remember to submit your application early. It may be worth getting an engineering specialist or tutor to read over your application and make suggestions for improvement. This will increase your chances of impressing employers and securing the best internships.
3. Research the routes to qualification
Most aspiring engineers start their training by earning a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a relevant topic. You must check that your college is accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). You can search on the ABET website for a list of accredited engineering programs. A bachelor’s degree in engineering typically takes four years of full-time study to complete. Graduate engineers must then apply for licensure which typically involves completing the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam. This is a six-hour exam consisting of 110 questions that focus on the core areas of engineering. The exam is not required in all states although it is a valuable way to check that graduates have the skills and expertise to practice engineering in a professional setting.
You can learn more about the FE exam and take practice questions to help you prepare by visiting the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Each state sets its own requirements for engineering licensure, so make sure you check what you need to do early on.
4. Earn a master’s degree
Most engineers require a master’s degree to practice in their chosen field. Once you have completed your bachelor’s degree, you can choose to study a master’s program in your chosen sub-discipline of engineering. This course will teach you the advanced skills and knowledge needed to be successful in your chosen field. You will also have the opportunity to pursue your interests and gain a competitive edge in the job market. Most master’s programs require one year of full-time study, although this may be longer if your course requires a placement. There is a huge selection of different master’s engineering programs to choose from – you can learn more here. For instance, you can choose to enroll in an MS Engineering-ECE-Advanced Mobility and gain the skills needed to join the fast-paced and exciting world of automotive engineering.
5. Develop your soft skills
Technical skills are vital in engineering, and you must become as technically sound as possible in your chosen field. That being said, you should also focus on developing your soft skills like communication and teamwork. Employers will expect you to demonstrate technical engineering skills but they will also want you to possess important soft skills. Some key soft skills to maximize your career success in engineering include problem-solving, organization, communication, and leadership.
6. Join a highly-skilled team
Engineering graduates should focus on joining a highly-skilled team that will enhance their engineering skills and support long-term growth. Take your time to research different engineering organizations and look for a company that offers high levels of support, quality training, and advancement opportunities. Read testimonials from former and current employees to gain an insight into workplace conditions and learn about the values of the company.
You can boost your chances of being offered an interview at your company of choice by writing an impressive resume and cover letter that differentiates you from your peers. There are many articles offering tips on how to write standout applications and impress at engineering interviews.
7. Commit yourself to continuous professional development
Rapid advancements in technology mean that the engineering industry is continuously evolving and adapting to meet modern demands. As an engineer, it is crucial that you learn about new engineering technology and remain up-to-date with the latest tools and software. To keep up with the dynamic world of engineering, you must commit yourself to continuous professional development and take a proactive approach to your training. You should be enthusiastic about your job role and seek new learning and development opportunities. Joining a professional engineering organization such as the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) can be an excellent way to learn about topics relating to your field. It will also allow you to connect with fellow engineers and expand your professional network.
8. Don’t forget to maintain a healthy work-life balance
Working as an engineer is often extremely rewarding but it can also be challenging at times. Too much stress can increase your risk of certain health conditions and harm your mental wellbeing over time. For that reason, you must make it a priority to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This should involve keeping your work and personal life separate, spending enough time with loved ones, and finding relaxing outlets to relieve feelings of stress. Achieving and maintaining a work-life balance will ensure that you are healthy, happy, and productive long-term.
The engineering industry can offer graduates a wide selection of exciting job roles with multiple perks including high earning potential, job satisfaction, and fantastic advancement opportunities. For those reasons, more and more students are choosing to enroll in engineering programs with the hopes of joining this dynamic field. Securing your dream role in engineering will not be easy and there is high competition for the top jobs. However, there is nothing to stop you from achieving a long and rewarding career. Use the above tips to help you become a successful engineer and start working towards your career goals today.