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How to Build a Successful Career in Engineering

Successful Career in Engineering

Engineering is a varied and challenging field of study which opens numerous rewarding and fascinating career paths. With the right education, experience, and commitment, engineering offers people the opportunity to travel the world, make a difference in the way society operates, and earn a substantial salary in the process. This article explains why engineering is such a prosperous career and how you can maximize your chances of long-term success.

Before we get into building a successful career in engineering, it is worth beginning with why someone might want to start one at all. Here we outline some of the most persuasive reasons to pursue a career in engineering.

Why build a career in engineering?

Opportunity to be creative

Engineering is regarded as a scientific and practical profession, and while this is true to an extent, it is also a career built on innovation and creativity. Engineers often need to work on projects and use technology, which is outside of their comfort zone. They need to use their skills, regardless of their field of study and apply them to new challenges and problems. The study of engineering is full of transferable skills, the ability to learn and adapt, and tools that can be used to create solutions to just about any problem.

International travel 

Whether they specialize in electrical, civil, or mechanical engineering, engineers are in demand all over the world and are held in high esteem across all industries. This means that with a degree in engineering, you will have the chance to work just about anywhere in the world and can travel as much as you wish. If you are interested in an adventurous and unpredictable career, engineering could be ideal for you.

Engineering is highly paid

Some careers are renowned for being highly paid, such as doctors, lawyers, and CEOs of corporations, but in many parts of the world, engineers do just as well. In fact, in some cases, engineering salaries can exceed doctors’ salaries so that engineers can look forward to a comfortable living standard and a stable career. Of course, the biggest salaries are earned by those who advance to the top of their own business. Still, with the right education, experience, networking, and business acumen, the sky is the limit. 

Engineers change the world

When you think of a career that enables you to help people, you probably think of being a nurse, counselor, or teacher before thinking of an engineer. In reality, engineers are at the forefront of improving and advancing our society. By ensuring technology and industry operate as efficiently and productively as possible, reducing our impact on the environment, and ensuring we have the building blocks of modern society, engineers are changing the world for the better.

Long-term job security 

Engineers are wanted all over the world in a wide range of sectors. When you couple this with a worldwide shortage of engineers, engineering professionals have their pick of jobs. Even when one project has finished, there will be another around the corner, and this will be the case for many years to come. In addition, engineering can give you skills that are applicable in numerous sectors and types of business. All in all, engineers should never be out of work if they are willing to adapt and move with advancing technology. 

Engineers are never bored

If the idea of a desk job terrifies you, engineering is a great choice. Modern engineering does involve sitting at a computer to a certain extent, but there will rarely be a day when you are not using your hands and completing practical tasks. Seeing the work that you design on a computer come to life is one of the most rewarding moments as an engineer, and it happens every day. 

Varied projects

Because engineering is such a diverse field, choosing to pursue a particular path does not restrict you to that path forever. An engineering graduate can enter almost any industry, but their skills and knowledge can be transferred to another field when required. This might include working with technology, data, mechanics, electricals, or manufacturing. Engineers can also be useful in marketing, training, product design, IT development, and management. The key to a varied and interesting career lies in being flexible and adapting to new environments. 

Professional respect 

If it is not clear by now, engineers are highly respected for their skills and their impact on society. Engineers are trusted because of their high level of training and their reputation for continued learning and innovation. People know that an engineer can think critically, creatively, and pays attention to detail. If a business has a problem, an engineer will be the person to solve it. Being able to call yourself an engineer carries a lot of kudos. 

Wide open market for jobs

Engineering positions are plentiful, and even if you have to look in another area or country, you will find your ideal job. If you are interested in cars, renewable technology, computer technology, farming, space travel, or anything else, there will be a company out there offering the ideal position. When you have had enough of one position, you can switch to something else. 

How to build a career in engineering

Once you have completed your engineering degree (in whatever field you prefer), you can begin to build a long-term career. With each project you work on, you will be honing your skills and problem-solving ability, gathering experience, learning how to maximize results with limited resources, and growing your network of professional contacts. Some engineers are content to work at the same level throughout their career, but if you are hoping to push yourself and excel professionally, you need to take control from the beginning. Regardless of the engineering field, you choose to pursue, these tips will help you to maximize your chances of success. 

Set your long-term goals

Any engineering project needs research and preparation to maximize its chances of success, and your career is no different. When you start out on your engineering career, it is advisable to have a clear goal in mind in terms of where you want to be in five years, ten years, and twenty years. You are not necessarily mapping out a plan you will stick to as you can adjust your plan at any time but having a goal will help you to focus on moving forward. It is also important to take a step back now and again to review where you are in your career so you can adjust course if needed. 

Invest in continued professional development 

The world is developing rapidly, and if you are not developing alongside it, you will be left behind. Your value as an employee and an engineer lies in your ability to continue to gather new skills and work on new projects. Take the opportunity to learn new skills whenever you can and consider studying for a master’s and/or specific engineering certifications. 

Improve your soft skills

Your academic education and technical skills obviously vital to your career prospects, but you should not neglect your soft skills. Soft skills include your communication, people management, active listening, negotiation, teamwork, and the ability to present your ideas to engineers and people without engineering expertise. Management and organizational skills can make you a prime candidate for engineering and/or systems management roles. Click here for more information on the difference between the engineering management and systems management. With the right approach to your colleagues and superiors, you will find progression opportunities. 

Work on your business skills

Engineering rarely occurs in a vacuum, and the projects you encounter will have a commercial element. Businesspeople are always looking for ways to maximize efficiency and productivity, reduce costs, and solve their operational problems. Engineers who can innovate and develop a solution to those problems will be highly prized by their employer, which puts them at the top of the list when promotions become available. 

Be ready for change

Technology and engineering ingenuity are advancing quickly, particularly for those in the software and automation sector. Engineers who are resistant to change and struggle to adopt new technology will struggle to stay relevant, so be prepared to embrace a continuously changing professional landscape.

Be resilient

While this point can apply to any industry, engineers who work hard and get back up when they stumble are more successful. The greatest inventors in history failed time and time again before succeeding. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn and improve, so do not get disheartened when a project does not go to plan.

Learn from a mentor

Identify a more experienced colleague or senior member of staff and learn from them as a mentor. You might want to ask the person in question if they would be able to act as a mentor, but if you would rather keep it casual, ask them questions and get their advice when you feel the need. There may also be influential figures outside your organization who inspire you.