Careers in Engineering – A Guide
by Sumona Job & Career 12 January 2022
The field of engineering encompasses a wide range of expertise, including technology, science, and mathematics. This means that anyone looking to enter a career in this sector has a vast range of opportunities to choose from.
In addition, the basis of engineering covers everything from researching and designing solutions to modern problems. So whether you’re working to develop renewable energy systems or maintaining vital software, there’s something for every skill set.
There is a need for skilled engineers in many industries across the world. This sought-after career also commands good salary prospects even at the graduate level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in engineering occupations is projected to grow around 6% between 2020 and 2030.
It is said that many new job positions will likely focus on sectors such as renewable energy, robotics, and infrastructure as the world changes to meet sustainability demands.
The pay is higher compared to the average national wage, with median salaries at $83,160. Typical jobs in the market include Aerospace Engineers, Chemical Engineers, and Civil Engineers, among many others. There’s also the chance to work for public or private sector companies at home or internationally.
With this immense choice and open-ended possibilities, a career in engineering has never looked so good. This short guide covers the types of engineering jobs available and what you need to get your foot in the door. Plus, there are also handy tips on getting your first graduate job.
Read on to find out more about this exciting field of work:
What qualifications are required for engineering jobs?
The vast area of engineering opens up employment to people with all types of qualifications and experience. Depending on the sector, it is possible to start from the ground up. However, if you’re looking to specialize, higher qualifications are needed.
The typical entry-level qualification for engineering jobs is a bachelor’s degree. This level of education provides the necessary background and knowledge required to carry out several positions within the sector. In addition, many individuals also obtain a master’s in a specialist area and licensure within specific areas.
If you’re already working in engineering and want to move up the ladder, there are a number of courses that assist the process. For example, a masters in engineering management online program allows you to work alongside study. This option provides a specialist avenue in management in the engineering sector to give you insight and expertise when applying for senior positions.
What experience is required for engineering roles?
Experience within engineering varies depending on the type of job you apply for. Employers recognize you have limited experience in the sector at the graduate level. However, it’s still important to show you have some. A great way to do this is via an internship.
Internships provide you with an insight into a variety of jobs within the field. They are a valuable asset on your resume and demonstrate a willingness to learn. However, this type of work experience is typically unpaid depending on the employer, so it is only suitable for a few months at a time. You can find internship opportunities via many job websites.
If you have an employer in mind, send them an email to inquire. Some of the best job opportunities come from taking the initiative and putting yourself forward even if no immediate jobs are available. Building connections is a crucial way to get your foot in the door.
What types of engineering jobs are available?
The beauty of the engineering sector is there are so many employment options available. Hundreds of disciplines are available, including manufacturing, science, technology, and construction. Engineering firms come in all sizes, from large corporations to start-ups.
Before you take your step into the world of engineering, it can help to know the basics and explore the type of engineers out there. This will guide you to the right pathway and career preferences suited to your talents and qualifications.
Below are some of the common examples of engineers:
i). Electrical engineer
Electrical engineers develop and design electrical systems and equipment typically within manufacturing processes. This includes working in areas such as telecommunications, power stations, mobile technology, and satellite communications.
ii). Chemical engineer
Chemical engineers work to turn raw materials into useable products and delve deep into the processes that make it happen. There is often a misconception that this field works purely in industrial processes at the source.
However, this field is varied and exciting. Example jobs could include designing innovative fabrics to making things taste better. The opportunities are vast.
iii). Civil engineer
Civil engineers focus on making everything run smoothly throughout infrastructure. This includes working on road systems, bridges, and buildings to ensure design and flow are functional for the people using it and the landscape around it.
iv). Software engineer
If you’re looking for a role in technology and innovation, a software engineer job is a great choice. Modern society functions around the use of technology and its power in personal and business mediums. Software engineers are key individuals behind the scenes that make it all happen.
Everything from working on apps, websites, and operating systems is a big part of this role. Plus, you’ll learn a whole new language – programming. Positions in this area will continue to grow in the future, so it is a viable option for anyone that loves technology and engineering.
v). Mechanical engineer
There is often a misconception that mechanical engineers only work on vehicles. But there is a whole world of machines and engine-powered equipment that makes the world go round.
Mechanical engineers develop and design components and equipment to support this area. This job role is likely to innovate dramatically in the future with the introduction of sustainable fuels and materials. It may also be a great way to combine electrical and mechanical engineering.
vi). Environmental engineer
Engineers don’t just work to tackle corporate jobs; they also provide solutions for the world around us. As an environmental engineer, you’ll find solutions that help create a better quality of life.
This role may tackle everything from recycling to waste management or water pollution and climate issues. The variety is exciting and innovative.
Jobs in engineering solve problems in everyday situations. These roles are interesting and varied, and there are many industries to consider when choosing a graduate position. But how do you take the next step to find the right opportunity?
Check out these handy tips to finding your first graduate job:
While there is a need for skilled engineers and expertise in this area, finding a job can still be challenging for an inexperienced graduate. However, it’s not impossible.
a. Research job roles
We’ve covered some of the top engineering jobs above, but there are many more to discover when choosing your next step. Research is key to getting the best opportunity for your skills and passions.
Delve deeper into the requirements that the job entails. What qualifications are needed? Do you need experience?
Asking these questions will ensure you have everything ready for the application stage. It’s also handy to remember that just because you don’t fit the job role exactly, you shouldn’t bother applying.
Employers like to see other attributes that make you a good fit for the job. So while your resume is your foot in the door, your cover letter should highlight why you should make the cut.
b. Start applications early
It’s surprising how quickly time passes when studying. So while you’re knee-deep in coursework and exam revision, it can be easy to forget to make time for graduate job applications. Many universities advise you to start the process early and build your resume as you go.
This allows you time to research jobs to get the best opportunity for your skills. At this point, it’s also helpful to note what grades you need. Many employers are looking for high grades, so this will guide you on what to work towards.
c. Get work experience
Getting work experience is vital to provide the best standing against other candidates. Employers understand that you’re not an expert in the field at the graduate level. Still, some experience shows knowledge and understanding in the area.
Many university courses have a work experience element. However, an internship is also an excellent opportunity for industry insight. While these opportunities are usually unpaid, they offer a broad look at the type of role you could go into.
Of course, some experience is better than none at all, so check out potential internships on job boards or ask your course leader for tips. If you’re eager to get into a particular sector or organization, start enquiring about opportunities early. These spaces fill quickly.
d. Take advantage of higher education
Many people think university is just a means to a great job. Still, in reality, it’s a hive of information and expertise if you take advantage of it properly. Many engineering firms have key connections with educational establishments.
They often post jobs and internships opportunities and network with faculty. Don’t forget your lecturer isn’t just a teacher either. These individuals have typically worked within the engineering sector. They are experts in their own right and can guide you in many areas, including great places to work.
e. Be ambitious
The world of work after graduation can be a daunting place. However, that shouldn’t stop you from aiming high. There are numerous firms looking for skilled and knowledgeable graduates, and it can be easy to downplay your achievements.
While some larger organizations will have fierce competition, there is still a chance to shine through. However, smaller companies also have great opportunities. You may also see promotion more quickly and a varied role in these positions, so don’t rule this option out.
There’s also a range of engineering roles in companies outside of the engineering field. Many companies require this skill set, such as large retail firms, government, and entertainment industries.
f. Create a great resume
Employers can spot a generalized resume in an instant, so avoid sending a standard template that could contain silly mistakes. For example, if you forget to change the employer name or keep the same motivation statement for all jobs and they don’t really relate, it’s likely your application will end up in the trash.
Do your research and create targeted resumes for jobs you actually want. Employers will spot lackluster statements and unrelated skillsets, so be sure to tailor your resume to the job. Find out more about the company and culture and take time to understand what they do. This invaluable research will help at an interview to boost your chances.
Also, don’t be put off if you don’t quite match the job requirements. While these are guidelines, employers want to find the best person for the role. If you lack experience or have a different qualification, use your motivation statement to impress them. Showcase your passions and interest in the company, and explain how you can contribute to the team.
Some companies use resume parsers to filter information, which could cause an issue if you don’t meet the relevant areas. However, many smaller firms take resumes at face value to ensure they get the best fit for the company.
g. Keep optimistic
Graduate jobs in engineering are available, but often there is a lot of completion for roles. However, it’s essential to stay optimistic. Use rejections to look closer at your resume and hone your application further. If you get past the interview stage but are not the right fit, be sure to get feedback, as this will help in the future.
It’s also important to identify when you don’t feel like a good fit for a company. It might be the best opportunity in the sector, but it’s acceptable to decline if it doesn’t fit your requirements.
Careers in engineering are exciting and diverse, which makes it a great sector for career advancement alongside a good salary. If you’re taking the next steps in your education and want to take the leap, be sure to do your research and find the right direction for you.