Engineering careers offer an opportunity for innovating and experimenting, creative thinking, and interesting development and design. When you have a background in engineering, you may be working with a wide range of different things including road design, watercraft, buildings, aircraft, software programs, electronics, and more. If you are interested in this type of career, there are several different engineering roles that you can consider.
Engineering is a field that refers to any type of science that is concerned with the construction, design, and use of systems, machines, and structures. It is a large field and has applications in almost every industry around the world, from production and manufacturing to construction and shipping. Various engineering disciplines are likely to have been involved with the home that you live in, the office or building you work in, the roads that you drive on and many of the products that you buy. If you are a natural problem-solver and are interested in development and experimentation, an engineering career might be suitable for you.
If you are interested in an engineering career, there are many different specialties to explore. Read on to find out more about some of the most popular types of engineering careers to consider.
Software engineers are tasked with designing, developing, installing, and maintaining computer software. Typically, they will focus on either computer programs, operating systems, and computer applications. In this role, a software engineer makes us of math, computer science, and engineering knowledge to develop new software, multi-platform programming, and test coding for functionality and stability. They are responsible for regularly testing the performance of existing software applications and systems, and will recommend enhancements, updates, or new installations depending on the needs of the company.
Typically, a chemical engineer will work with pharmaceuticals, food processing, or industrial chemicals. They research and develop new manufacturing processes for chemical production, manufacturing operations or by-product treatment. Chemical engineers are tasked with developing safety protocols, evaluating processing equipment, establishing standard processes, and ensuring compliance with any safety and environmental regulations. They are also responsible for routine testing, assessment, and troubleshooting of existing processes and equipment.
Also referred to as aerospace engineers, an aeronautical engineer works in aerospace, aviation, and defense. These engineers are tasked with developing, designing, testing, and maintaining aeronautical engineering systems used in space shuttles, helicopters, fighter planes, passenger airlines, stealth jets, and other air vehicles. They will often focus on a certain part of the construction, such as software solutions, structural engineering, or electrical systems.
Materials engineering is a career path that is involved with the development, processing, and testing of materials that are used in a range of manufacturing processes. This includes ceramics, plastics, composite materials, and metals. Materials engineers are tasked with studying these materials to determine their mechanical, electrical, or chemical properties and test their usefulness in a range of applications. They are responsible for the operation of analytical equipment, preparing samples for testing, interpreting data, and organizing results in order to make informed recommendations on the best material choices for new products.
A nuclear engineer is a professional who works with radiation and nuclear energy. Duties include researching the properties of nuclear energy, along with developing processes and systems to make the best use of the resources. They may develop industrial or medical applications for radioactive materials, along with establishing protocols to work safely with these materials.
An electrical engineer works with systems that supply and generate power. They may work with electrical generation systems, lighting, wiring, and circuitry. A career as an electrical engineer may take on various different forms, including developing instruments to measure electricity, improving electricity generating systems or streamlining installations that transmit and utilize power. Electrical engineers are responsible for regularly evaluating existing systems and solutions, and part of their role includes searching for new ways to improve efficiency within the energy sector.
A mechanical engineer is tasked with working with force, motion, and energy. They use these elements in the designing, development, and testing of mechanical devices. The responsibilities of this role including designing effective tools, drafting blueprints, improving mechanical technologies, testing theories, building prototypes, and proving a range of functional ways to utilize procedures and products. Depending on the project scope, mechanical engineers may make modifications to existing equipment, or produce completely new designs. Part of the role also involves drafting documentation for user guides.
A computer engineer is tasked with working with software and hardware that go into making computers run. The role involves the development and testing of technology to ensure that it works correctly. Computer engineers may focus on business applications, video and computer games, security systems, and other specialized areas. They are responsible for the maintenance and troubleshooting of existing systems, assessing them for flaws, and developing appropriate upgrades or patches to ensure that the company runs smoothly.
A petroleum engineer works with the equipment that is used to dig beneath the surface of the earth to extract oil and gas. They are responsible for experimenting with new techniques to assess new oil wells or determining how existing ones can be better utilized. Petroleum engineers work together with geologists in the field in the planning and overseeing of drilling operations. They are responsible for determining the safest and most profitable methods of recovering gas and oil.
An environmental engineer is responsible for researching and developing ways to better improve and protect the environment. These professionals may focus on a certain area such as soil quality, wastewater management, air pollution, environmental remediation, water-borne diseases, ozone depletion and more. Environmental engineers may develop technology to reduce emissions from vehicles, or develop more effective ways to measure climate change, for example. They will often work on the design of large-scale projects to protect the environment and everything that is involved with following through including overseeing construction, monitoring facility use, and inspecting operations to ensure that they comply with relevant regulations.
These are professionals who usually work for the government and focus on the development of towns or cities. Roles may include working on roads, buildings, airports, bridges, dams, and tunnels. A civil engineer is responsible for assessing the needs of an area and designing constructions to facilitate protective function or safe commutes. A civil engineer is responsible for ensuring that buildings and other structures are constructed to withstand environmental hazards such as earthquakes or hurricanes as effectively as possible. They may analyze soil tests, prepare cost estimates, determine the most effective building materials, submit applications for permits and ensure that all regulations are complied with.
A marine engineer works in a role where they are responsible for working with constructions used on or in water, such as aircraft carriers, sailboats, submarines, and tankers. They primarily work with the ship’s internal systems, including propulsion, refrigeration, electrical and steering systems. They work closely with naval architects, who are responsible for the craft’s architectural elements including the form and structure that surround the marine engineer’s systems.
A biomedical engineer works with medical and biological sciences. They are responsible for designing and developing equipment, software, and systems for the healthcare industry. Biomedical engineers are responsible for the installation, maintenance, evaluation, and repair of biomedical equipment including artificial organs or diagnostic machines. They will also provide training to clinicians on the correct use of these technologies, prepare research papers and technical reports, and report what they find to scientists, colleagues, clinicians, managers, and the general public.
An industrial engineer is responsible for the evaluation and improvement of production processes. They are mainly concerned with eliminating waste and improving system efficiency. Responsibilities of this role include evaluating production schedules and process flows, coming up with new ways to improve efficiency and developing management and control systems to improve effectiveness and reduce costs. They will work closely with management, vendors, and employees to improve understanding of facility processes and determine the best ways to improve them.
Engineering management is a role that can be taken on in any engineering discipline. Experienced engineers working in any of the above fields may be interested in moving into a management role where they are responsible for management of teams, overseeing projects, communicating with clients, and determining and meeting the project budget. Engineering management is a role where engineers have the opportunity to move away from the technical side of the role and move into a more businesslike career path, where people skills and leadership skills become more important. To learn more about this role, consider a masters in engineering management online program from Kettering University.
How to Choose the Right Engineering Role for You
With various disciplines that focus on a vast range of areas with different roles and responsibilities involved, choosing the right engineering role for you is not always an easy task. Perhaps you are already particularly interested in a certain area that may translate to an engineering role, such as construction, electronics, or biochemistry. Or maybe you are not sure which type of engineering is going to be the best fit for you. Some strategies to consider when choosing your future engineering career include:
Consider the Career Outlook
No student wants to invest in education only to find that it doesn’t pay off. When choosing the right engineering career path for you, it’s important to make sure that the career outlook is in line with your expectations for the future. Some types of engineering careers are currently growing faster than others, many have a job growth rate that is in line with the national average for all careers, and others are going in the opposite direction. It is a wise idea to spend some time researching the engineering career types that you are interested in to determine whether or not it will be a good investment for your future.
Wherever possible, engineering internships, work experience placements and other types of work experience can be a good way to find out more about the different types of engineering and get first-hand experience of what it is like to work in this role. Even spending some time shadowing engineers working in different disciplines can help you get a better idea of what a day in the life of these professionals looks like, making it easier for you to make the decision as to whether or not it is the right fit for you.
Consider Your Skills and Strengths
What you’re good at right now might also play a part in helping you determine which type of engineering career is going to be the best option for you. Before you choose which area of engineering to major in, spend some time thinking about your own strengths and weaknesses to work out whether or not you’re going to have what’s necessary for this job. While you don’t have to have every skill needed right now and there is a lot that you can learn along the way, you may find that some engineering jobs are simply a better fit for you based on what you are naturally good at and enjoy.
Consider the Salaries
Finally, while money might not be everything, it’s often an important part of choosing your future career. Some engineering disciplines do pay much more generously compared to others, so if a lucrative salary is important to you, it’s worth doing some research to figure out which engineering career roles are the most aligned with your salary expectations. Along with reviewing the expected salary, it’s also worth considering the career advancement opportunities for each role and earning potential based on promotional opportunities.
Engineering is a wide field that encompasses a range of different roles working in various industries and sectors. Whether you are interested in electronics, the environment, construction, computers, aviation, biology, or something else, engineering is a career path that offers something for everybody. Choosing the right engineering discipline for you is the first step towards an exciting career.