For tech lovers, tinkerers, math fanatics, and critical thinkers, engineering can be a wonderfully fulfilling career that comes with a promise of a unique reward.
Since there are so many avenues of engineering work to explore, job titles to ponder over, and in-demand fields to consider entering into, it can be difficult to know where to turn in order to take your career a step further.
Some people understand the concept of a successful career to mean making as much money possible, whereas, for others, it is the chance to see if they can make a positive impact on the world.
Through engineering, you can effectively do both! If you happen to be at a turning point, staring out into a world of limitless possibility, you be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed.
Here are some tips and pointers to help you find your direction and, hopefully, take your engineering career to new heights before too long.
Developing Leadership Skills
Your practical skills may be second to none, but without the ability to lead a team, take charge and make the correct decisions under pressure, decisions that directly affect others, you will likely struggle to climb to the next level.
Thankfully, this can be taught and picked up with ease over time; it just takes some dedication, understanding, and experience.
You might already have the makings of a great leader without even knowing it; sometimes it the skillset naturally develops in time; this might be a list that consists of such traits as:
- The Ability to Listen to People – Listening is a fantastic life skill, one that will likely be able to get you incredibly far, both professionally and personally.
- Being a Motivator – Employees often turn to their managers for direction and motivation, aspects expected of a competent leader without a second thought.
- Making Good Decisions – Leaders learn to get comfortable taking on the responsibility required to make highly important decisions. Learning to embrace responsibility is often a touchstone to indicate that someone is starting to develop and mature in their career.
Some engineers end up walking down the management route after a long time in the industry, as the huge number of skills and experience they amass can make for a strong consultant and leader.
If you want to inspire the next generation of engineers, honing your leadership skills could be the perfect place to start.
New generations of skilled professionals always need training, and perhaps your love and passion for the world of engineering could be the ideal catalyst to help strengthen the industry as a whole.
Education is Often the Key to Success
No matter what kind of industry is in question or whom the individual may happen to be, education can generally always empower and elevate, inspire and support.
It is always worth keeping an eye for brand new learning opportunities, particularly for those of you who feel like your career is beginning to stagnate or as though opportunities are locked away out of sight for you due to you not possessing the right qualifications.
Sometimes, a certification is all that separates someone from accessing their dream job or opening a door to a new horizon.
For engineers, keeping up to date with their education is an absolute must. The world of tech and science can have a habit of changing at a bewildering rate, so failing to take notes as it does so might leave you in the dark.
Some of the very best advanced degrees can set engineers up for some fantastically rewarding jobs with impressive-sounding, high-paying titles like:
- Nuclear Engineering Management Consultant
- Product Development Manager
- Site Reliability Engineering Manager
- Senior Manufacturing Engineer
It is fairly difficult to say which kind of job would be best for a highly educated engineer because not only are there so many to suit a vast range of different individuals and preferences, but engineering requires such a diverse skill set, you will likely be able to do whatever you want!
Thanks to the world of remote learning, accessing education might be easier than it ever has been before, so you can study to become a Master of Science Engineering Management Online at a time that best suits you, at a highly respected and renowned institution, all from the comfort of your own home.
For professionals who are already working within the industry but would still like to sharpen their skills via advanced educational opportunities, online courses might be ideal; as the flexibility they offer the individual can usually work around and support a busy schedule.
Seeking Out Volunteering Opportunities
Many professionals continue to volunteer throughout their entire working life and then even way into retirement in some capacity.
It is a superb way to gain some hands-on experience, meet exciting new people, help and support others, and make important connections.
Plus, it can look fantastic on your resume, as it shows you have the strength of character to commit to a cause, regardless of whether or not the money is good.
Sometimes, all it takes is a quick exchange of words to find yourself in a totally different career on a brand-new trajectory into an exciting world of possibility.
If you are not out meeting people for this magical occurrence to take place, then how will it ever happen?
Even if your dream job fails to somehow land into your lap as if it just fell right out of the sky, volunteering is still a good space to meet people who can open up your perspective to new directions worth exploring.
It can also be a good outlet for anyone who is passionate about engineering and simply cannot ever spend enough time around the subject. If you find yourself stuck in your current job, unable to find your spark or utilize your specialist skillset, volunteering on the side could be the way to go.
Volunteering is still an opportunity to support the community as a whole, so the many benefits it can bring you as an individual and the larger world should not be underestimated.
Where in the World to Start Looking?
In order to truly take your engineering career to the next level, it is often worth looking further afield, perhaps even to entirely new countries that promise a wealth of interesting opportunities.
With an elite set of skills and some widely recognized qualifications, there is no need to feel like you have to stay local. In fact, many engineers set their sights on faraway pastures to start exciting new jobs.
San Francisco can be a superb place for anyone with a tech-oriented mindset and a desire to position themselves at the forefront of cutting-edge innovation in product design. The world-famous silicon-valley is home to some of the world’s leading brands, like Apple, Netflix, Google, and Facebook.
The city itself is a beautiful place, rich in culture and activities, progressive attitudes, and breathtaking beaches, making it a prime consideration for anyone interested in chasing opportunity across America’s golden coastline.
Munich is home to BMW, Audi, Voith, and many other huge international brands, so whatever your specialization may be, Munich is certainly one to watch for engineers who wish to find work.
Germany is known for making flawless automobiles that are desired and revered across the entire planet. If cars were your area of engineering expertise, or practically any other area of engineering you can imagine, the great beer capital of Europe might be well-worth your time.
Dubai boasts what is subjectively, one of the world’s most breathtaking skylines. The beautiful weather shining down on a bustling, luxurious metropolis, combined with the frequency in which the city takes on new building projects, might make it a superb destination for those of you wishing to get into civil engineering management.
Working on Your Personal Traits
If you enjoy nothing more than keeping your head down to the grindstone and getting on with a project by yourself, many advanced positions in the field of engineering require great soft skills to navigate.
It is likely worth brushing up on some of these skills in order to aid your professional development and prepare yourself for a new role. This might refer to:
- Your Ability to Work in a Team – You may already be aware of this, but the ability to work in a team is often an intrinsic part of an engineer’s job. On bigger projects, this can mean communicating effectively with a cross-section of entire departments.
- Flexibility – It is probable that not every plan will go as smoothly as one would hope, which is one of the many reasons why taking a flexible approach to life can benefit your career. This is a great soft skill to possess, as it can show potential employers that you are versatile and easy to work with.
- Your Pitching and Presentation Skills – Public speaking rarely comes naturally to many people, but it is nevertheless an important skill to possess, particularly if you are aiming to reach the heights of the engineering industry, where pitching and presenting will likely be part of the day job.
Many soft skills inherently revolve around an ability to communicate effectively, and if you do not necessarily have that right now, there is no need to worry; it is a skill that you can learn.
In many ways, it all starts with being a good listener. Paralinguistics can also play a big role in workplace communication, such as the way you hold yourself and the tone of voice you decide to adopt to speak to others.
Networking can be an immensely important part of one’s career, and thanks to a digitally connected world, there should be fairly few excuses for failing to do so.
It can, of course, be hard to approach someone. This could be down to feeling awkward, not wanting to annoy people, or simply just shyness.
Overcoming this can help you out massively when striving to advance your career, as making connections is a good way to open up new opportunities in areas that might not have been visible to you before.
You can start establishing your networking skills by working on your own personal brand, even if this just means getting yourself signed up to LinkedIn.
People need to be able to find you if they are to reach out with offers you cannot refuse. You could even think about making yourself some business cards and setting up a website.
Creating a Professional Portfolio
When the time finally comes to apply for jobs, a professional portfolio can be a powerful tool indeed, particularly one that you can reveal to your potential employers at a moment’s notice.
Your creations deserve to be shown off in all of their glory, so it is worth creating a timeline using your portfolio in order to show employers your journey and how you have developed professionally throughout your engineering career. Remember, there are many different materials in the world of engineering. Ideally, you need to show that you’ve worked with different kinds of materials, along with systems and controls. For example, work with hdpe is always looked favorably upon because it has many uses throughout the world of construction and engineering.
A portfolio is always great, so long as it is varied and full of different kinds of experiences.
Starting Your Own Business
If you feel like you have the expertise, the experience, and the connections to thrive on your own, then starting your own business should not be a prospect to ignore.
Working for yourself can give you the freedom and space you need to flourish in a competitive sector. Finding your niche, your market, and your funding are some good first steps to consider, even if the idea of starting your own business is still a pipedream as of late.
Sometimes, advancing to the next stage in your career means carving out your own path and doing it your way, on your terms with people you respect and trust.
The engineering industry can be difficult to navigate, but provided that you have a skillset to provide you with solid foundations, there might not be very much weighing you down from seeking an opportunity at every turn.
It is worth bearing in mind, keeping up with the current news in engineering could give you the edge as a candidate, as someone who can come across enthusiastic, forward-thinking, and knowledgeable can be a delight for any employer.