Engineering Career Path

Engineering Careers

Do you like solving technical problems? Are you good at science and math? You might consider becoming an engineer. Engineers are problem solvers who use their expertise in science and math to do their jobs. They work in various branches of engineering. Let’s take a look at several of them.

    • Aerospace Engineer: Designs aircraft and tests prototypes to make sure they function as designed
    • Agricultural Engineer: Solves problems related to agriculture
    • Biomedical Engineer: Designs prosthetic limbs and artificial organs, as well as the material used to manufacture them
    • Chemical Engineer: Solves problems that involve the production or use of chemicals
    • Civil Engineer: Design, builds, and supervises construction projects and systems
    • Electrical and Electronics Engineer: Designs and tests electrical equipment and systems
    • Environmental Engineer: Solves problems in the environment

Quick Facts

    • Median annual earnings for several branches of engineering (U.S., 2016):
      Electrical $94,210
      Civil $83,540
      Mechanical $84,190
      Environmental $84,890
      Nuclear $102,220
      Biomedical $85,620
    • In 2016, 1.6 million people worked as engineers, according to the National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. Most of them were electrical and electronics engineers (315,870), mechanical engineers (285,790), civil engineers (287,800), and industrial engineers (281,950).
    • Job outlook differs by branch. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts civil and petroleum engineers will experience employment growth that is faster than the average for all occupations through 2024 while employment of biomedical engineers will increase much faster than the average. Chemical, electrical and electronics, mining and geological, and mechanical engineers will have job growth that is as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment of industrial engineers will change little or not at all and materials engineers’ job growth will be slower than the average for all occupations.

A Day in the Life of an Engineer

What is it like to be an engineer? We found some answers by looking at typical job duties listed in employment announcements on Indeed.com:

    • “Prepare roadway plans, detail drawings, project specifications, and cost estimate” (Civil Engineer)
    • “Provide civil engineering and design support for large earth structures including dams, landfills, mining projects, and power projects” (Civil Engineer)
    • “Design and execute engineering experiments, and statistical parameter control” (Mechanical Engineer)
    • “Prepare engineering calculations, diagrams, and technical reports” (Electrical Engineer)
    • “Write technical and regulatory documents in compliance with quality management system” (Biomedical Engineer)
  • “Oversee and manage the setup, performance, and reporting of the laboratory testing. Ensure that projects are completed on schedule and within budgetary constraints” (Environmental Engineer)
  • Document and present analysis results to technical leads, management and/or customers” (Aerospace Engineer)
  • “Research, draft, and coordinate acquisition packages for materials being purchased or upgraded” (Materials Engineer)

How to Become an Engineer

To get an entry-level job, you will need a bachelor’s degree in engineering. Sometimes a college degree in physical science or mathematics will suffice, especially in high-demand specialties. Some students specialize in a particular branch of engineering but then work in a related one.

You will have to get a state-issued license if you want to offer your services directly to the public. Doing this will allow you to be called a Professional Engineer (PE). To become licensed your college degree must come from a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). You also need four years of relevant work experience and must pass a state exam. Requirements vary by state.

What Soft Skills You Need

In addition to your education and an aptitude for math and science, you also need specific soft skills, or personal qualities, to succeed in this occupation.

  • Active Listening and Verbal Communication: These communication skills are essential for working on teams, which will be a significant part of your job.
  • Critical Thinking: You will need to use logic when testing products and solving problems.
  • Reading Comprehension: You must have the ability to understand written documentation.
  • Active Learning: You must be able to incorporate new findings into your work.

How Engineers Advance in Their Careers

After entry-level engineers gain experience and knowledge, they may work more independently, making decisions, developing designs, and solving problems. With further experience, they may become technical specialists or supervisors over a staff or team of engineers or technicians. Eventually, they may become engineering managers or may move into other managerial or sales jobs.

What Employers Expect From You

To find out what qualities, in addition to education and technical skills, employers were looking for when hiring engineers, we again turned to Indeed.com. Here’s what we found:

  • “Strong communication and interpersonal skills are required”
  • “Ability to organize work and deliver on time work products”
  • “Goal-oriented, able to set goals and achieve them”
  • “Ability to take ownership of assigned tasks in a timely manner, and learn new principle ideas and concepts”
  • “Organized, self-motivated, and detail-oriented, with the ability to adapt quickly in a fast-paced, deadline-driven environment”
  • “Ability to read and interpret product drawings”

Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

Your interests, personality type, and work-related values are some of the factors that will determine whether being an engineer is a good fit for you. This career is suitable for people who have the following traits:

  • Interests (Holland Code): RIC (Realistic, Investigative, Conventional)
  • Personality Type Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI): ENTJ, INTJ, ESTJ, ISTJ, ESTP
  • Work-Related Values: Independence, Working Conditions, Achievement, Recognition

How to Become an Engineer – Education, Licensing and Other Qualifications

Engineers use their knowledge of scientific and mathematical principles to solve technical problems. They work in a variety of disciplines including civil, environmental, chemical, mechanical, electrical and petroleum engineering. Do you want to know how to become an engineer? Learn about educational requirements and how to get into a college engineering program. See what you will have to do after you graduate and find out what employers are looking for when they are hiring for entry-level jobs.

Do You Have What It Takes?

To work in most branches of engineering you need good math and science skills. Make sure to take and do well in as many high school classes in these subjects as possible. Chemistry, physics, biology, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, pre-calculus and calculus should certainly be part of your curriculum. They will form a good foundation for the advanced courses you will take in college.

In addition to having a strong background in science and math, certain soft skills will allow you to be successful in this occupation. For example, you need to be a good problem solver. It means you must be able to identify problems and come up with possible solutions to them. Excellent critical thinking skills will allow you to evaluate each solution to determine which one has the best chance of working. You must also be able to work on a team, solving problems alongside colleagues. You should be a good listener and speaker as well.

Required Education

If you want to become an engineer, you must earn a bachelor’s degree from an engineering program, majoring in the branch in which you want to work. When it comes to deciding where to study, you may select either an accredited or an unaccredited program, but it is usually in your best interests to opt for an accredited one. Having that designation means the program meets certain standards. You will probably need a degree from an accredited program to become licensed and, also, many employers prefer to hire graduates of those programs. ABET accredits engineering education programs in the United States. Different agencies have this responsibility in other countries. TryEngineering.org, a website that provides information about engineering education and careers, has a searchable database of accredited programs around the world.

College coursework varies depending on the engineering branch you choose. In addition to your engineering classes, you should expect to take advanced science and math courses. You will have to fulfill the general education or core curriculum requirements of your college by taking English, humanities and social sciences classes.

Here is a sample of courses that are listed among the requirements of various engineering programs:

  • Engineering Materials
  • Analytical Geometry and Calculus
  • Logical Design and Digital Circuits
  • Mechanical Engineering Laboratory
  • Engineering Mathematics
  • Decision Analysis
  • Probability and Risk Analysis for Engineers
  • General Chemistry
  • General Physics
  • English Composition
  • American History
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to Sociology

Students who are interested in engineering degrees and careers have a wealth of options to choose from. Prospective professionals can follow a degree and career path based on the science that piques their interest, the types of products they’re interested in working with, or the materials they are knowledgeable about. Below are examples of the types of jobs that engineers can pursue, along with educational requirements as described by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Civil EngineerThis broad subsection of engineering allows professionals to design, develop and build a wide variety of products, including engines, machines and tools. This job entails duties such as using computer software to create product designs; testing design prototypes to determine whether or not they work the way they should; and analyzing test results to adjust the design specifications as necessary. Some projects also require installation, so mechanical engineers sometimes have the opportunity to really get their hands dirty by ensuring that certain products, such as water or heating systems, are installed and maintained properly.

Education RequirementsBachelor’s degree in civil engineering, civil engineering technology, or similar specialty. Degree must be from ABET-accredited program to earn a professional engineer (PE) license. Master’s degree is required for some positions.

Electrical EngineerThe electrical systems used in products are designed, developed and tested by electrical engineers. These workers find the best ways to use electrical power in numerous products. To do this, they use calculations to develop and construct products; develop specifications to construct, manufacture and install a product; and test products to ensure they meet the production criteria. Electrical engineers may also investigate complaints about a product, evaluating why something went wrong and how it can be fixed.

Education RequirementsBachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited program in electrical or electronics engineering or in electrical engineering technology. Some programs are available that offer a bachelor’s and master’s degree concurrently and last approximately five years.

Environmental EngineerWhen there’s an environmental disaster, such as an oil spill, a community turns to these kinds of engineers for help. Or when a city needs to improve its recycling program, it counts on their recommendations. That’s because environmental engineers use their knowledge of engineering, as well as sciences like chemistry and biology, to solve environmental problems and find solutions to issues that affect the environment.

Some of the specific job duties of environmental engineers include conducting environmental investigations and preparing detailed reports, creating environmental protection plans, and inspecting industrial facilities to ensure they comply with applicable laws.

Education RequirementsA bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering or a closely related engineering field such as general, civil or chemical engineering. To become licensed, engineers must have a degree from an ABET-accredited program.

Nuclear EngineerThese engineers develop ways to leverage nuclear energy and radiation. Examples of their work can be found in medical devices used to treat and diagnose patients, as well as power sources found in airplanes and ships. Some of the job duties of nuclear engineers include designing and developing equipment, such as reactor cores and radiation shielding; investigating nuclear accidents to find the cause and create strategies for prevention; creating guidelines for nuclear waste handling and disposal; and monitoring the operations of nuclear power plants to ensure they are run lawfully.

Education RequirementsSome jobs may require only a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering or related engineering subject, but a master’s and even an PhD may be required even for entry level positions. Nuclear engineering degree programs are ABET accredited.

Materials EngineerWhether they are working with ceramics, metals, plastics or glass, these engineers use materials to create products used in everyday life — which is accomplished by developing, testing and processing materials to find the right ones for a specific product. The job duties of materials engineers include creating budgets for projects and working to ensure they are adhered to; investigating product failures and finding solutions to the problems; and supervising the work of technicians and technologists.

Education RequirementsA bachelor’s degree in engineering is a minimum requirement, however a master’s degree may be necessary for career advancement. Master’s degrees in materials science and engineering are available. Candidates for graduate programs won’t necessarily need to complete their undergraduate studies in engineering, but they should have a solid educational background in math and science to apply to a master’s program in materials engineering.

Industrial EngineerThe work of industrial engineers is primarily driven by efficiency. To that end, they use their engineering knowledge to manage materials, devices, information and even people in order to create products or provide services. This job entails reviewing processes to uncover wastefulness, creating efficient ways to manufacture products, analyzing production problems and creating quality control measures, and working with clients to streamline production schedules.

Education RequirementsMost often, these professionals have at least a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, but some have degrees in general engineering or a closely related field such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, manufacturing engineering or industrial engineering technology. Those who wish to pursue higher education can do so by finding a 5-year program offering the bachelor’s and master’s degree together, or pursuing a master’s degree in industrial engineering down the road. PhD programs are also available.

Computer Hardware EngineerComputer hardware engineers contribute to advancements in computer technologies by testing and designing systems and components. Their work includes creating blueprints of computer hardware, testing completed hardware designs and making necessary changes, and collaborating with software developers to adjust existing hardware products so they are compatible with the latest software updates.

Education RequirementsBachelor’s degree

Getting Into an Engineering Program

Admission requirements and procedures vary by college. It is important that you check with the institutions to which you want to apply to learn about their policies. Usually, you will have to complete a general application and take the required standardized admissions tests like the SAT or ACT. Applicants to engineering programs sometimes have to apply directly to those programs or even to a specific discipline and often have to meet additional qualifications. For example, they may need to have earned certain scores on the math section of the ACT or SAT, taken SAT subject tests in math and science and completed specific high school classes.

Students who want to transfer into engineering programs from other colleges or even from within the same school will have additional hoops to jump through. Those requirements also differ by school. Therefore it is imperative that you investigate thoroughly before you begin the process.

What You Must Do After You Graduate

Engineers who offer their services directly to the public need a license to do so. Once licensed, they are called Professional Engineers (PEs). In the US, individual states and the District of Columbia issue these licenses. You can learn the specific licensing requirements in the state in which you want to work by using the Licensed Occupations Tool from CareerOneStop but generally all require that one has graduated from an accredited program, has four years of work experience and has passed exams that are administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. If you move to another state or want to practice in multiple states, you must apply for a license in each one. Fortunately, since the exam is national, you won’t have to take it again!

Typical Steps to Licensure for Graduates of Accredited Engineering Programs in the US

  • Step 1: Take the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering) Exam, an eight-hour test, after graduation from an accredited engineering program.
  • Step 2: If you pass the exam, work as an engineer-in-training or engineer intern to get four years of work experience, as required for full licensure.
  • Step 3: Take the PE (Professional Engineer) Exam in your discipline. It is an eight-hour exam.

Getting Your First Job

Learn what qualities employers of engineers are seeking. Here are specifications excerpted from job announcements found in various sources:

  • “Strong organizational and time management skills.”
  • “The ability to work independently as well as part of a team.”
  • “Proactively investigates, identifies, and implements best-in-class Quality Engineering practices.”
  • “Work with supervisors to improve direct labor efficiency.”

What Can You Do With an Engineering Degree?

ngineering is a broad subject which splits into many different disciplines, including chemical, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering. Engineering graduates are often logical thinkers with excellent numerical and problem-solving skills.  The careers open to engineering graduates are wide and varied, although you may wish to choose the career most relevant to your engineering specialization and related skills. This may require extra studying and work experience; if you’d like to become a chartered engineer, for example, you will need to take a postgraduate course (MEng) and gain professional experience.

Those looking to begin careers in engineering will be pleased to discover that, not only is there a high demand for engineering graduates, but there’s also a chance that you could earn an impressive salary, with engineering graduates in the US earning an average of US$75,800 per year according to glassdoor.co.uk.

Read on to find out which careers in engineering would best suit you, and how to increase your employability in these areas.

Civil engineering careers

Degrees in civil engineering prepare you for a career in the construction industry as well as in the wider business, management and financial sectors. Civil engineering careers are both rewarding and challenging and can involve construction, design and management, depending on your interests and specialist knowledge.

This career option often involves many aspects of design and architecture, allowing you to express your creative side and explore innovative new ideas, whilst also analyzing data and technology. Civil engineers need a good knowledge of design and construction methods as well as health and safety matters.

Civil engineering careers generally split into the roles of a consulting civil engineer and a contracting civil engineer. Civil engineering careers in consultancy are likely to be involved in the design stage of a project, collaborating with architects and other professionals. Alternatively, contracting civil engineers turn the plans of consulting civil engineers into reality, dealing with practical issues such as obtaining materials and meeting deadlines, and helping to resolve any problems that arise. There are also roles which combine both the consulting and contracting stages.

The role of a building control surveyor is generally suited to civil engineering students but is open to engineering students of all disciplines. Building control surveyors consider areas of health and safety to ensure building regulations and other regulations are monitored when buildings are designed and constructed. They also offer advice when buildings do not meet these regulations and will make visits to the construction site at different stages to make sure that the work is being correctly carried out.

Chemical engineering careers

If you’re a chemical engineering graduate, there are a wide range of engineering careers available to you. The technical and transferable skills developed in your degree can also lead to professions in business, finance and law.

Chemical or process engineers examine and design the machinery and processes used to turn raw materials into everyday products such as fuel, plastics and food, whilst sticking to health and safety guidelines. Modern chemical engineering is also concerned with trailblazing useful new resources and techniques, such as nanotechnology. This career would suit graduates with a strong interest in chemistry and a knack for problem-solving.

You’ll be using your knowledge of mathematics and science to help you analyze problems and come up with solutions. Good management skills are required to help effectively manage projects, budgets and people. Click here to read in more detail about how careers as a chemical engineer vary between sectors such as food processing and wastewater management.

Another career which you might wish to consider as a chemical engineering graduate is a product/process development scientist. Your knowledge of processing gained in your degree will be very useful for this career, as product or process development scientists are responsible for exploring and developing new production processes and adjusting current manufacturing systems to increase their efficiency and profitability.

Mechanical engineering

Mechanical engineers develop solutions to help improve mechanical processes and products, and can work in a variety of sectors, including manufacturing and power. They are involved in the management of people and resources, as well as the development and use of new materials and technologies. This career path will suit you if you’re technically minded, skilled at science and mathematics, and good at problem-solving. Mechanical engineers in the US can earn an average of US$62,680 per year according to glassdoor.co.uk.

Aeronautical engineering

The obvious route for careers in aeronautical engineering is to study a specialized degree in this field, but it is also an option for graduates of mechanical engineering, as well as graduates of computer science engineering, electrical engineering and manufacturing engineering.

As an aeronautical engineer you’ll apply scientific, technological and mathematical principles to research, design, develop, maintain and test the performance of civil and military aircraft, including weapons, satellites and even space vehicles. You’ll need to be able to resolve any issues that arise during the design, development and testing process, including investigating any aircraft accidents and project management.

Electrical engineering

Electrical engineering often overlaps with other areas of engineering, as the sectors you could work in span from construction to communications and media, to healthcare and more. This is another area which isn’t necessarily restricted to graduates of this subject, as entry may be possible with a different type of engineering degree, particularly mechanical engineering.

Electrical engineers design, develop and maintain electrical control systems and/or components through a mixture of technical knowledge and commercial awareness, and in the US can expect to earn $76,460 on average, according to glassdoor.co.uk. As well as having technical knowledge, electrical engineers need to have commercial awareness and be able to project manage and multitask.

Engineering careers in management and consultancy

Engineering graduates are well suited to roles in management, as they often have strong problem-solving skills and the ability to ‘think outside the box’. Some graduates of engineering might decide to study a postgraduate degree specializing in engineering management in order to boost their career prospects, while many graduates will be able to gradually progress into a more senior position which involves having responsibility for other staff or larger projects and budgets.

Experienced engineers may choose to pursue a career in engineering management consultancy, working either as part of a consultancy or as an independent contractor. This means the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects at different types of organization, providing expert advice, and perhaps also taking on project management duties.

Similarly, engineering managers conduct a variety of tasks to apply engineering principles to business practice, for example by overseeing projects and operations, managing personnel and handling budgets. Engineering management combines the technological problem-solving know-how of engineering and the logistic, administrative and formation skills of management in order to supervise complex initiatives from conception to completion. As this is a senior role, you will usually need a qualification as a chartered engineer, as well as significant experience.

Career Paths: Civil Engineering | Express Publishing

Other careers for engineering graduates

IT consultant 

This career may suit graduates who have studied electrical or computer/software engineering. Your expertise in IT would be welcomed in a wide range of organizations. IT consultants work in partnership with clients, guiding them on how to use information technology in order to meet their business objectives or overcome problems. Having a good degree, prior work experience and a sincere interest in IT and consulting will increase your chances of finding work in this role.

Quality manager

As a quality manager, you’re responsible for ensuring that your company’s products and services are fit for purpose and meet set standards, with quality assessment procedures in place to uphold those standards. If you understand the importance of quality to customers and businesses, have an eye for detail and are a good communicator, this could be an ideal career for you. A postgraduate degree and/or relevant experience would be useful for entry into this role.

Technical writer

Technical writers are needed in many industries to write descriptions or instructions to help people understand how to use a product or service. The strong practical knowledge that you’ve gained during your engineering degree will be very useful in this role, particularly if you have knowledge of software packages, as you could be writing manuals for high-tech products. Technical writers work for an extensive assortment of industries, from finance to nuclear energy. Again, relevant experience is useful, as are strong writing skills and the ability to convey instructions clearly in the relevant language/s.

Engineer Careers List

Engineering contains a large number of job opportunities and specialties. We’ve selected a list of specialties below. With each specialty, we look at the definition and nature of the work, the specialties employment trends, possibly career advancement opportunities, and hope that it is helpful for you in determining whether or not the career is right for you.

Aerospace Engineer

Aerospace engineering is the study of the design, development, and production of air and spacecraft. This engineering discipline is often divided between those who pursue careers on the aeronautical side and those working on space craft. Both air and space vehicles contain complex subsystems that require specialists from many engineering groups such as electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering.

Agricultural Engineer

Agricultural engineering is also known as biological engineering, and it covers subjects from aquaculture (raising food sources that thrive in water), to land farming and forestry. These engineers also develop biofuels, plan animal environments, and find better food processing methods. Often they work in offices, but they are also outdoors and traveling to worksites where they oversee equipment function in agricultural settings, and assure that government regulations are met.

Automotive Engineer

Automotive engineering is one of the most exciting, challenging and rewarding careers. Whenever a customer drives a new vehicle off a dealership lot, he or she is taking with them the technical expertise of many engineers, but in particular, the automotive engineer. Automotive engineers research, design and develop vehicles and their subsystems. They work with sophisticated technologies to create products that thrill the senses and bring the freedom of mobility to the world.

Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers work with a combination of biology, medicine and engineering. They are trained to analyze and design solutions that will improve patient care. They are the professionals behind sophisticated medical equipment like MRIs and microscopic surgical machines. Biomedical engineers are also responsible for research and development of medical innovations like artificial organs and prosthesis.

Chemical Engineer

Chemical engineers utilize their knowledge of the physical world to manipulate the interactions of individual atoms and molecules. Their talents are generally employed in the research and development of new materials and are critical to numerous fields including nanotechnology, energy storage, and computing. Often working alongside other engineers in interdisciplinary teams to solve humanity’s greatest problems, chemical engineers are guaranteed to remain key leaders in securing our future prosperity whether on this planet or any other.

Civil Engineer

Civil engineers specialize in road, bridge, buildings and water supply system design and construction. They supervise and direct construction teams and work with other engineers. These professionals ensure that every structure built is environmentally compliant and can withstand earthquakes and hurricanes. This is especially true in places where these natural calamities often strike.

Computer Engineer

Computer Engineers develop and improve the software programs and hardware that make computers run. Computer Engineers may specialize in either software or hardware. From operating system software, such as Windows and Linux, to individual computer programs, such as Photoshop and Microsoft Office, Software Engineers turn piles of hardware into fully functional computers. Hardware Engineers develop the hardware of computers, including the motherboards, graphics and audio cards and drives that are later programmed by Software Engineers.

Drafting and Design Engineering is an exciting career that allows the engineer to be involved in all stages of the design process, from conception to presentation of the finished plans. This career requires a working knowledge of drafting and design principles, material types and properties, and manufacturing processes.

Electrical Engineer

Electrical engineers specialize in power supply and generation. They design, develop, test and supervise electrical equipment manufacturing. They have also been trained to handle responsibilities like wiring and lighting installations in buildings, automobiles and aircraft. What is great about being an electrical engineer is that the training is so extensive that graduates may land a job in many different industries such as construction, manufacturing and design.

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers use science and engineering principles to protect and improve the environment. The quality of air, water, and soil is their primary focus. They seek solutions to water-borne diseases, wastewater management, and air pollution. They work to improve recycling, waste disposal, and industrial hygiene. They analyze soil and water samples. They understand the law as it applies to protecting the environment.

Geological engineering involves geology,civil engineering, and fields such as mining, forestry and geography. These engineers apply earth sciences to human problems. Specialty areas include geotechnical site studies of rock and soil slope stability for projects; environmental studies and planning for construction sites; groundwater studies; hazard investigations; and finding fossil fuel and mineral deposits.

Marine Engineer

Marine Engineers are responsible for the design and construction of seagoing vessels and structures, focusing primarily on their internal systems. Simply put, they design the onboard electrical, environmental and propulsion systems aboard everything from oil platforms to cruise ships.

Mechanical Engineer

Mechanical engineering is the study of motion, energy and force. The mechanical engineer seeks to control these elements by using a combination of material, human and economic resources to develop mechanical solutions that help satisfy the needs and wants of society.

Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers specialize in designing and developing technology and methods for digging the earth’s surface to extract oil and gas. They find means to obtain either natural gas or crude oil from the ground. In addition, petroleum engineers explore and discover new techniques to extract oil and gas from older wells all over the world.

Software Engineer

Software engineers are specialists who are in charge of the testing, design, development and maintenance of computer software for business and personal use. They apply the principles of mathematics, engineering and computer science in creating managing software. These professionals are responsible for programming computers to make them operate as they should.

Civil Engineer Infographic | Blog | Postgrad.com

everything you need to know to find your first engineering job

Congratulations, you’ve passed all your tests and certifications, and received your degree in engineering! Now what? How do you transform that degree into the well-paying job you were promised was waiting for you at the end? Luckily, applying for your first engineering job is a lot like applying for any other job, you just have a little less experience!

The good news: most employers understand that your potential is as important (if not more important) than experience when filling entry-level engineering jobs. If you’re not sure how to start your engineering career, Randstad Engineering has a few suggestions!

become an engineer-in-training (EIT)

In Canada, to become a professional engineer (P.Eng) you need to be licensed by your provincial association. Becoming an Engineer-in-Training is the first step to being licensed as a professional engineer. To use the title of Engineer-in-Training, you need to complete the academic requirements and apply for membership in your province. Since you’ve graduated and have obtained your engineering degree, you simply have to apply to your provincial association!

After gaining 4 years of engineering experience as an EIT (including at least 1 year in Canada), you’ll be able to apply for a Professional Engineer designation. Both P.Eng and EIT designations are in demand in Canada and can help substantiate your engineering experience.

refresh your resume

Looking for your first full-time engineering job? Now is the perfect time to give your resume a scrubbing. Your student resume isn’t going to cut it anymore. Get rid of any side gigs and part-time jobs unrelated to engineering. Instead, focus on your engineering skills, the software you’ve worked with, and engineering projects you’ve worked on, even if they were coursework. The key is highlighting relevant engineering experience.

need help getting your engineering resume in order?

connect with a recruiter

build an engineering portfolio

Engineering is a broad career path. Sometimes that leads to engineers who are unsure how to define themselves. A portfolio can help you explain who you are and sell your strengths to potential employers. It’s also more detailed than your resume, which makes it a great tool for new engineers to sell their skills to potential employers.

What should you include in your engineering portfolio?

  • A short bio that focuses on your strengths, education, and certifications
  • A copy of your engineering-focused resume
  • Detailed information about your coursework, internships, and projects you’ve worked on
  • References or letters of recommendation from people you’ve worked with (if you’re fresh out of school, professors are a great option to build credibility)
  • Examples of projects you’ve worked on, or other demonstrations of your skills. This is your chance to be creative. Do you have a YouTube video of a project coming together? Have you built models or prototypes you can show off (photos will do)? Anything that showcases your engineering skills in action will add weight to your portfolio.

Ideally, all components of your portfolio should be digital. Though it’s certainly handy to have a physical portfolio to take to interviews, make sure you have a version you can email to hiring managers and attach to your LinkedIn profile. Having multiple formats makes it easy for potential employers to review.

build your network

Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know that will help you land an interview with a company you love. The key is to get your foot in the door. Once you’re in the door, you have a chance to dazzle hiring managers with your passion and engineering knowledge!

If you’re fresh out of school, you might be thinking: what network? I don’t know any engineers in a position to help me out. Actually, you do! Consider these places where you can connect with engineers who have the knowledge and experience to help:

your alumni network

Your alumni network is a great place to start building your engineering contacts. Most universities and colleges will have an association you can join. The great thing about alumni networks is they connect you with people already working in your industry, who may be in a position to help you find a job, connect you with colleagues who can, or provide references. Sometimes alumni associations also have mentorship programs you can join to be paired with experienced alumni in your field.

professors and classmates

Don’t underestimate the value of building relationships through your school. Professors often work in the field prior to, or outside of their teaching duties, and may be able to offer advice on where to look for jobs. They’ve also seen countless other students graduate and know what’s helped previous classes find post-graduation employment. They also make great references, as do classmates who you’ve worked with on projects.

professional associations

In Canada, each province has a professional association that engineers can join. In addition to government-regulated associations, many fields have additional associations worth joining. For instance, as civil engineers, you may find local associations in your field that are more targeted to your interests and career goals. Often these associations have resources to help members network or find jobs.

social media

Social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) can be a useful tool for connecting with other engineering professionals in your field. Sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are home to discussion groups you can join to meet other engineering professionals, share articles, resources and news, and find a job.

recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies have tools, resources, and connections you can use to get started on the right path, especially if you’ve new to your field. They can help you fine-tune your resume and interview skills, and because they have established relationships with a variety companies, may be able to help you get your foot in the door at companies you’re interested in. Look for recruiting firms that specialize in engineering – like Randstad Engineering – to ensure you’re working with an organization that has relevant connections with companies you want to work for.

looking for an engineering job?

work on your soft skills

As a fresh face in the industry, it’s often your soft skills that set you apart from other entry-level candidates with similar skill sets. Brush up on your interview skills, communication, teamwork, positive attitude, etc. Employers understand that a lot of skills can be taught. But they’re looking for someone with promising raw materials who they can help grow into the role.

focus on companies you’re interested in

One of the biggest mistakes we see among entry-level job seekers is that they mass apply to any job that’s even remotely related to their field. Don’t do this. Mass applying to hundreds of jobs with a boilerplate resume is not the way to stand out and find a job you love. Entry-level job seekers sometimes worry they’re not experienced enough to get the job they want. Avoid approaching your job search this way. Spend a little more effort on each application, but focus on a handful of companies or roles you’re really passionate about. Your genuine interest will shine through. Recruiters and hiring managers appreciate candidates who are enthusiastic about the role at hand.

don’t get discouraged

Looking for your first job (or any job, if we’re perfectly honest!) is tough. It takes time and a whole lot of effort to find the perfect fit. It might seem like you’re pouring endless time and resources into a black pit of despair, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As an engineer, you’re entering an in-demand field. Just keep at it. You will find the right job eventually!

What Is Construction Engineering? Salary and Careers | Ohio University

6 Things Every Engineer Should Know

Whatever their specialized fields be, there are certain common things that every engineer needs to know to become good at their jobs. All that time spent studying the subject prepares you for most of the tasks for sure. However, some skills come naturally.

There are lots of online books and video series teaching us how to be an engineer. While you may learn the technical language, history of the profession as well as general technology and products being used, there is nothing that can really prepare you for certain situations.

Here are 6 things that every good engineer needs to know.

Manage your time efficiently

Being an engineer requires multitasking. If you aren’t able to manage your time effectively, everything would soon come crumbling down. Sometimes making lists and scheduling your day help you organize your workload. You will be amazed how much free time you’ll be left with when you develop time management skills. Another thing to consider, while multitasking is important, you shouldn’t completely switch between tasks. Try finishing one project and only then, start a new one as you would require too much concentration to do several completely different things simultaneously. Find a way to eliminate all the habits and practices that cost you too much time during a workday. This will allow you to be more efficient.

Practice basic skills even though you don’t need them anymore

Most engineering courses teach basic knowledge of the skills needed to be a successful engineer. Even if you don’t practice complex equations on a daily basis, it is important to maintain a working knowledge. During their careers, engineers are often challenged with various tasks that are out of their comfort zone. While this is a great test, most of them will flunk it as they are unable to go back to basic formulas. Have in mind that almost every engineering science has a basis in mathematics and physics. As such, refreshing your memory from time to time is key for doing your job. Luckily for you, there are lots of web resources you can read or download at any time!

Don’t be arrogant but be confident

Some people think that being an engineer gives them the right to be arrogant, because of how smart they think they are. However, the best way to prove yourself is working well under stress, as well as developing practical problem-solving skills. Stress is inevitable to the subject of engineering. Therefore, you need to be confident in your decision-making skills if you want to become a successful engineer. This is especially true if you’re a part of a larger team or a company. Even if you’re an owner, arrogance can create unwanted friction and alienate you from employees.

Understand other engineering disciplines

Whichever field you work in, it is important to maintain a basic knowledge of what other engineers do. When it comes to collaboration projects or interdisciplinary researchers, a broad point of view always comes in handy. The ability to keep up with colleagues outside your field will carry you to the next level to become a good engineer. For example, even if you have extensive mechanical education, taking a course from electrical engineering would be great for your career. New technologies and continuous development should be on top of your list.

Give good presentations

Given the complexity of engineering technologies and systems, you need to be able to explain them to a larger audience. Many engineers are known to be introverts, but to be a successful engineer presentation skills are crucial. Elon Musk has admittedly struggled with public speaking due to his introverted nature. However, like any other skill, the more you practice social interactions, the better you will get at them. Best way to start is to talk with your clients directly when providing services. Impose yourself during team meetings and be open when discussing a problem. With this simple system, you will become confident in stressful situations and in front of a larger group of people. When ready, start doing presentations in front of a smaller group of people and in time, you will be ready for any type of a presentation regardless of how many people are there in the crowd.

Risk and reward

Today, the job of a modern engineer is ten times more complex. Not only are you required to finish a technical process, but you need to see if its gonna be profitable. When making important decisions, engineers need to be able to weigh the real risks and rewards of projects. Whether you are designing a monumental structure or a specific product, you’ll always face with collateral and unintended results. It is important to recognize these issues and decide if the risk is worth taking or not. Like everything else in life, you need to search for the right opportunities. Once you check all the data and projected figures, you can decide whether or not to work on something.

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