A Guide to Career Options in Engineering
February 15, 2019
Engineering is a broad term that covers a great many diverse and rewarding career opportunities.
As engineers through time achieve their objectives, so it lays the foundation for new industries and therefore new career opportunities. It’s only a few decades ago that careers such as software and electronics engineering were unheard of, yet now they are one of the most vital roles in modern life.
There will be many considerations to make before you pursue a career in this field, so read below for a clearer understanding of what is available, and the roles you can undertake.
Becoming an engineer
The basic requirement for being an engineer is to have a good grasp of scientific and mathematical principles and an enquiring, inventive type of mind. You’ll need a degree in your chosen field, but engineering covers so many varying specialties that wherever your specific talents and interests lay there will be a matching role in engineering.
It’s also a career that is open to people of all ages and backgrounds, and many people who work in engineering roles have retrained or built upon their existing knowledge to become engineers in their chosen specialty. There are some outstanding college courses all across the US providing some of the best engineering education in the world, but you don’t need to be a full-time student to become an engineer.
Forward thinking universities are providing degree courses for offsite and part-time students, for example, you could complete a structural engineering online degree while still working in your current job.
One of the most well-known branches of the profession is civil engineering. The role of a civil engineer is critical in the infrastructure of human existence. Civil engineers design and then supervise the creation of roads and other transport links, public buildings, and water and energy supply systems. They play a crucial role in the safe design of structures to ensure they can withstand extreme weather conditions and ground instability such as might be experienced during a hurricane or earthquake, and part of their remit is to make sure construction projects comply with environmental and safety regulations.
Automotive engineers are responsible for designing and developing all of the many different kinds of vehicles you might encounter, from your family car to concept supercars. They use highly advanced technology and computer systems to develop their ideas into efficient, eco-friendly forms of transport and aerodynamically advanced vehicles that combine beauty with extraordinary power and performance.
Biomedical engineers use the science behind biology and medicine combined with engineering principles to develop the equipment used in health care. Their role is to improve the lives of patients and ensure excellent patient care, and they’re responsible for the design, creation, and maintenance of a range of medical devices and technologies, including:
- Magnetic resonance imaging machines (MRIs) and other sophisticated diagnostic imaging equipment
- Robotic surgical devices
- Artificial organs
- Artificial limbs
Wherever a device, machine, or another form of technological solution could enhance the patient experience, biomedical engineers will be working on the mechanics in collaboration with medical professionals.
Environmental engineers are becoming increasingly sought after with the rising concern about how we should care for the planet. They focus on ensuring the quality of the air and water and the stability and fertility of the soil is maintained and improved, looking at such areas of concern as water-borne disease control, recycling, air pollution, waste management, and other influences on the atmosphere.
Projects would include technological solutions for air and water treatments, sustainable energy, and protection from radiation, as well as assessing the effects of other new forms of technology.
Computer Engineers work on improving and developing computers and the programs they use.
Hardware engineers focus on the computer system, designing and upgrading the internal workings of the computer, or its hardware; including the motherboard, graphics cards, audio systems, and other physical aspects of the operating systems ready for programming.
Software engineers concentrate on the programming side of the equation, working on operating system software like Windows or specialist software packages such as Microsoft Office. They work on improving the performance of these programs and their capabilities, aiming to enhance user experience and make computing easier and more productive for end users.
Marine engineers cover a multitude of potential specialisms, from container ships to oil platforms. Basically, anything that functions in or on the sea comes under the remit of a marine engineer. They need to be able to design the electrical systems, propulsion, and environmental systems on board ships and rigs so that they are capable of withstanding anything the sea can throw at them. As so much of the rise in world trade depends on shipping, this is a critical role in the global economy.
Electrical engineers specialize in power, both its generation and supply. They may focus on the wiring and electrical installation processes, or be more involved in the design and development of electrical equipment. They also supervise the maintenance and testing of all electrical equipment related to power generation.
Electronic engineers are often confused with electrical engineers, but the two disciplines, although linked, are quite separate. Electronics engineers focus on the design of electronic circuits, the microchips, printed circuit boards, and other control mechanisms that enable electrical equipment to function.
These are just a few examples of the many branches of engineering, with many other specialist roles also being available, including:
- Aerospace Engineering
- Agricultural Engineering
- Applied Engineering
- Architectural Engineering
- Audio Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Molecular Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering
- Telecommunications Engineering
Engineering is one of the most important roles in human society, and everything you do in your daily life depends on the ideas, skills, and expertise of professional engineers. If you are interested in any of the branches of engineering, there’s never been a better time to develop your aptitude and train to join the ranks of the engineering elite.
Alec Neufeld is a retired builder, now freelance writer and part-time general fix it man. He has strong opinions on the use of alternate energy and is also an avid sports enthusiast.