An engineer’s life can be pretty exciting. Whether you’re working on designing the next great skyscraper or pushing the boundaries of physics with groundbreaking experiments, there’s always something new and exciting to get involved with.
However, the type of work an engineer gets involved with can vary a great deal. Some of the more common career paths an engineer may follow include:
1) Site Engineering
Depending on your academic background and previous work experience, you may end up in a role where you are responsible for the design of a building or complex infrastructure such as roads, power plants, or bridges. In essence, you’re designing structures that other people will use.
This type of site engineering work can be both physically and mentally demanding. While you’re undoubtedly skilled at using your technical engineer brain to solve complex problems, there’s also a great deal of stress involved in having to deliver on time and on budget.
2) Factory Engineering
If you have a passion for creating things, you may decide that working in a large organization isn’t for you and instead opt to work in a smaller, more agile company where you can have more impact. There, you’ll work with teams of engineers and scientists to design and develop the machinery necessary to make the company’s products.
This type of factory engineering can be demanding in terms of the time you have to spend working on individual projects or products, but you also have the opportunity to have a large impact on the future of the company you work for. In addition, you get to exercise your creative side as you work on developing new products and designs.
If you’re looking for a more structured approach to working, you might consider becoming a consultant. Working as a consultant, you’ll provide technical assistance to companies in a variety of industries, helping them to solve their specific engineering problems. You might work on a project for a certain length of time and then move onto the next one.
This is a fairly common career path for engineers who want to stay freelance but also want to make a bit more money. You get to test your problem solving skills on a variety of projects, and you can bill your time at a rate you deem appropriate.
If you have a natural curiosity and love to learn, you may decide to go the extra mile and become a researcher. In this role, you’ll contribute to scientific publications by gathering and analyzing data as you go about your daily research. While this may not seem like a direct path to becoming an engineer, it’s actually one of the most common ways to go about finding a job in the industry.
The only difference between a technical researcher and a technical engineer is that a technical researcher usually has a much broader area of expertise. For example, a technical researcher may get involved in everything from chemical engineering to electrical engineering, while a technical engineer is usually limited to just one discipline, such as mechanical engineering or industrial engineering. In any case, research will put your mind to work and give you the creative spark that will help you solve complex engineering problems.
A research career doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll design buildings or bridges. In fact, your work as a researcher is likely to involve a lot of reading and writing. For some, this may even mean taking on a more teaching role in academia, helping to educate others about your field of expertise.
Choose Your Own Career
Depending on your previous work experience and academic background, you may decide that you want to work in a specific field, such as solar energy systems or pharmaceutical processing. With most professions having degrees that are recognized worldwide, you may find that your search for employment is made easier. This is especially true if you have a specialty that is sought-after. In these cases, you may choose to ignore the specific roles mentioned above and instead follow your heart.
While the above example focuses on the role of an engineer, the path you choose for your career isn’t necessarily determined by the field you end up in. For example, you may decide that you’re more of a problem solver than a designer and go into business for yourself, or vice versa. The point is that you get to choose your own career path and the field you end up in will be determined by your interests and previous experience.