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Engineering Careers

Engineers use scientific training to solve practical problems, from building stronger bridges to improving electrical power grids. The engineering field is represented by more than 25 major specialties and subdivisions. Engineers can specialize in an industry such as aeronautics or in a single technology like jet engines. Each engineering branch provides a base of knowledge and training that can be applied in many areas. For example, mechanical engineers may work in food processing, medical devices or product safety.

Training in one field does not limit your possibilities. Your education most likely included knowledge in related areas. For example, an aerospace engineer will have been exposed to mechanical engineering. This flexibility can open new horizons. WetFeet.com offers profiles of engineering fields from aerospace to software. WetFeet.com also has an Engineering Overview and discusses job requirements.


Figuring out what you want to do and where you want to work can be confusing. Careers in Science and Engineering – A Student Planning Guide to Grad School and Beyond stresses the importance of looking closely at your goals and skills. Check the appendix to learn more about Skills and Attributes That Contribute to Success in Science or Engineering.

Different engineering fields will have distinctive ways of working. For example, research positions often involve solitary hours in the lab. Architectural engineers may stand on a building scaffold 40 stories above the ground. For professional success and personal satisfaction, you should match your natural abilities with the requirements of a specific position.

The Business of Work

The engineering job market demands more than just technical skills. While your job may be to apply the theories and principles you learned in school to solve a problem, the process takes place in an economic context. After all, the purpose of a company is to make money.

That’s why many companies look for engineers who can deliver a project on time and within budget. Candidates with marketing, economics or accounting coursework are very desirable. Cost consciousness is also a significant factor. Engineers who can see beyond the technical to the practical side of the field will enjoy a growing and productive career. The broader and more flexible your skills are, the more opportunities you will enjoy in the long term.

Talk to a Professional

An excellent way to gain first-hand knowledge about a career is to meet a practicing engineer. Each engineering field has a national professional association with a local branch in larger cities. If you go to a monthly meeting, you can ask members to give you career advice.

Here is a list of professional engineering associations:

   — Lisa Mayer

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