Career Advice for the Aspiring Engineer

Engineers are, rightfully, well-respected practitioners regardless of their field. According to the American Society for Engineering Education, there are two million engineers across the nation – taking up expert roles in computing, electronics and more. Working an engineering role is a fulfilling vocation, and one that is well remunerated too – but how do you get on the engineering ladder?

Fields of Engineering

Firstly, it is important to address a basic truth out of the gate: engineering isn’t a career by itself. Rather, it is a term – and a relatively broad one at that – used to describe design and practical application within a given field and to denote skill and expertise within the same.

The most conventional use of the term ‘engineer’ would relate to mechanical engineering, or the design, maintenance and repair of machinery that utilizes physics (from the steam engines of the Industrial Revolution to modern-day equipment). There are also structural engineers, the profession from which the English term originated; Medieval engineers were responsible for designing war fortifications amongst other things. Today, structural engineering principles encompass construction, architecture and the civil engineering of sewage and waterways.

Indeed, engineers can be found in most fields today. Chemical engineers design chemical processes and manufacture materials, while electrical engineers design and maintain electrical systems, utilizing complex components like strain gauges to design equipment and measurement tools alike. Software engineers apply scientific understanding and coding skills in the digital sphere, and audio engineers effectively design sound for clients.

Educational Pathways

The vast majority of these professions require comprehensive higher education – not to mention a specialized qualification in order to qualify as an engineer in title. Of course, the varying nature of engineering roles means you must specialize early.

In vocational roles such as electrical or audio engineering, college degrees and other academic qualifications are less valuable. Across all disciplines, though, special qualifications and accreditations are at least desirable and at most essential. ABET-accredited college courses are a strong route forward for those actively seeking an engineering role.

Crafting a Resume

Having the right educational pathway is crucial to securing an ideal role within your chosen industry. However, it is by no means the sole factor in your success here. You also need to sell yourself well to potential employers, through a rock-solid resume.

This should highlight your academic achievements and relevant qualifications, but also sell you as a dependable and experienced starter. This means internships, part-time work, project work and prior roles of responsibility. Indeed, having a separate project portfolio detailing your experience can stand you in good stead.

Soft Skills and Personal Development

Soft skills are the non-specific ‘people’ skills that round you out as a good candidate for firms of any kind to consider – and just as important in an engineering career as anywhere else. Your resume should detail your personal development, while your interviews are opportunities to demonstrate your ability to work well with others – and, of course, under stress.


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