Engineering As An Occupation: What Are My Options?
Engineering as a discipline is at the forefront of our society as we know it. It plays an integral role in various key industries, impacting livelihoods and aiding civilisation as a whole. It is a discipline that is always changing and evolving, as advancements in technology pave the way for new pursuits and projects previously thought impossible. Whether you are interested in civil engineering, mechanical, aeronautical, or electrical, understanding your options can help you to make the right decision as you pursue a career in this popular field.
What types of engineering are there?
Engineering can generally be categorized as falling into one of the following categories:
- Aerospace/ aeronautical engineering
- Chemical engineering
- Civil engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Mechanical engineering
Aerospace/ aeronautical engineering
Aerospace or aeronautical engineering focuses on the mathematics and physics of aeroplanes. This particular sector also encompasses space travel. Aerospace engineering careers will focus on all aspects of the engineering, maintenance, and management of aircraft, which can include military or commercial aircraft as well as space aircraft. This line of work may also include the manufacture of aircraft maintenance tools, as these are typically built to specification for certain aircraft and must abide by certain regulations to be used in airports, equipment such as hydraulic presses or airplane jacks may be something that an aerospace engineer works on.
This sector itself can be further divided into two more distinctive categories, aeronautical engineering, and astronautical engineering. If you choose to pursue this career, you will be involved in the design, creating and testing of prototypes, ensuring they function according to design. Top aerospace companies are actively hiring for a wide range of positions in various fields, including engineering, manufacturing, and research and development.
Often branded universal engineers, chemical engineers are responsible for the development, research, and design of machines, chemicals, and activities that help create products or items from raw materials. This can include clothing, food and drink, and energy used by the human race. Jobs within this sector may involve the design stage, manufacturing stage, operation of machinery or plants, or the development of substances and materials created or adapted through research. Those who study chemical engineering can be highly sought after due to the transferable skills that are taught at university, including project management and understanding process flow.
If you choose to study civil engineering, you will have a career focused on planning and managing major building projects. This could encompass anything from airports to skyscrapers in big cities, to the framework of a brand new town. Larger buildings that are essential for the growth of cities and society will have a team of civil engineers behind it responsible for making it happen. You will be involved in solving infrastructure problems, and in projects will help to design, build, and maintain a wide range of projects. Wherever you are based in the world, civil engineering is necessary. Buildings you will be responsible for can include those of both public and private sector, including:
- Dams and water sewage systems
Time will be spent between the office and on project sites.
Electrical engineering is a sector that will likely see al lot of change in the coming years as we develop and alter the way we consume and use energy. Designing, creating, and overseeing projects involving electrical equipment will be part of your day to day role as an electrical engineer. This is a job where you can opt to start as a technician, with plenty of room to grow and progress into the sector. Variety is offered with electrical engineering. You could be involved in projects that oversee:
- Giant turbines
- Street lighting networks
- Lifts and escalators
Mechanical engineers are responsible for designing, building, and developing any machine, engine, or tool. It is arguably seen as one of the broadest fields within engineering. Whether you divide your time working on projects involving electric generators to batteries for refrigeration systems, you will never be out of a job. Your role will include analysing projects to determine how a mechanical device can be used, and you will likely be responsible for determining the best way to improve this device to make it more efficient, cost-effective and safe. Understanding how such items can be repaired or replaced is also a key skill for this job. This sector may see you work on:
- Heating and cooling systems
- Elements of transportation
Benefits of an Engineering Degree
Engineering is a discipline that can be pursued both via the traditional degree route or by an apprenticeship. For those considering a degree but are unsure of the benefits, there are several to consider.
A degree can give you an ‘upper hand,’ as you will be entering the job sector with experience, knowledge, and transferable skills under your belt already. These can then be applied to your job as you have spent the last three or four years studying the craft and understanding the processes involved in your chosen sector.
The more advanced your degree, the more chances you will have to move to a job role with higher pay, higher responsibility, and more meaningful work. All of this can help your job satisfaction and see you grow and stay in one company for many years, learning along the way and never doing the same job twice.
It doesn’t have to stop at your Bachelor’s degree, either. You can complete a masters, doctoral, or college diploma if you choose to, which can give you scope to become a senior engineer, manager, vice president, or director within the relevant department. Many companies will pay for you to earn your degree while working at the firm, and if you are not in a position to attend university directly, online degrees offer you the flexibility and capability to build your knowledge and expand your skillset alongside pre-existing commitments. For example, you can get a civil engineering online degree from an established institution like Michigan Tech, and go on to craft your own career and work up within the sector. Those looking for chartership in engineering should consider a degree as this can help you considerably.
No matter what sector you are interested in, a career in engineering can see you go far, and excel and progress with each new project you undertake. With scope, flexibility, and various sectors to choose from, you are sure to find your niche and find a learning path that works for you. Be sure to do your research to find the best option, and see where a degree and further career in engineering can take you.