Should I Be an Engineer?

Traci Williams

Student working with teacher on engineering degree project

The field of engineering is exciting and dynamic. It is also a field with many disciplines that allow you to discover and work within your unique strengths and skill sets. As an engineer, you have the opportunity to work on projects from start to finish and see the tangible results from your efforts. This aspect appeals to many people who are interested in this line of work.

5 Key Qualities and Skills for Successful Engineers

If you’re considering a career in this field, here are the skills and qualities that can help you succeed:

1. You are skilled in math.

It’s essential that you have an aptitude for math if you’re considering this career. You don’t have to be a wizard with numbers, but engineers frequently use calculations in their jobs.

2. You are a problem solver.

If you enjoy taking on a challenge, thinking of new and innovative ways of doing things, and troubleshooting technology issues, then this could be an ideal path for you. Essentially, engineering is all about solving problems–either changing something to make it more effective and efficient, or creating something that has never existed before.

3. You have a strong interest in how things work.

Many successful engineers enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together, changing equipment to be more efficient, designing products, vehicles or robots and creating apps or physical objects to solve problems. Professionals in this field are often responsible for projects from start to finish–creating designs in theory, working with them in practice and fixing them once they launch.

4. You have excellent communication and teamwork skills.

When it comes to finding effective solutions for problems, working with others can be an essential part of the process. In fact, very few engineers work in isolation. Depending on your work, you will need to be able to collaborate and communicate with colleagues, suppliers, clients and staff who are working on the same project as you.

5. You stay up-to-date on new technology and developments.

If there is a particular area of technology or engineering you are interested in or follow, this may be a good indication you’ll enjoy it as a career. Perhaps you’re interested in computers, cybersecurity, smartphone technology or robotics, for instance. With the critical thinking and analytical skills you will develop in an engineering program, the sky is the limit for what you can create and contribute to the world.

Earning an Engineering Degree

To become an engineer, you will need to earn a bachelor’s in engineering degree at minimum. Due to the diversity of this field, it is important to have an understanding of your particular interests, career goals and the required coursework so you can study the discipline that is right for you.

College coursework will vary depending on the area you wish to study. You can expect to take advanced courses in math and science to prepare you for your engineering courses. As you progress in your program, classes will target specific content areas relevant to your degree. You will also be required to take general education classes, which may be in subjects such as business leadership, humanities and social sciences.

Here are a few of the core engineering courses you may encounter in your engineering degree:

  • Programming for Engineers
  • Calculus for Science and Engineering
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Circuits
  • Thermodynamics
  • Science of Solid Materials
  • Electromagnetic Fields and Optics
  • Engineering Project Management
  • Principles of Mechanical Design
  • Introduction to Robotics
  • Biomedical Instrumentation and Devices

Some graduates choose to expand upon their careers by pursuing an advanced engineering degree. Having a master’s or doctorate degree allows you to explore new topics and gain further knowledge in your particular field.

You may also want to consider obtaining certification(s) in your specialized area. Certifications in systems design, computer aided engineering software and Six Sigma, for example, can help strengthen your credentials and your value to future employers.

What You Can Do With an Engineering Degree

There are many different disciplines graduates with an engineering degree can enter. Some of the top careers in this field are:

  • Aerospace
  • Agriculture
  • Biomedical
  • Chemical
  • Civil
  • Electrical
  • Environmental
  • Health and Safety
  • Mechanical
  • Robotics
  • Structural

Many engineering jobs are in private sector businesses. You get to work with other engineers who are similarly motivated by designing and improving upon products and services. Most often, you will need to work within a predetermined budget which will require innovative thinking to create the best outcome within the financial constraints.

Some engineers work in the public sector in roles such as cybersecurity and land development. Working in a government-funded position, you’ll be required to create effective solutions while spending taxpayers’ money wisely.

Earning Potential as an Engineer

There are many opportunities at every level in the engineering field. However, your degree level and experience will directly impact the jobs and salary for which you qualify. Your salary will also depend on your area of discipline and whether you work in the private or public sector. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides in-depth data on median earnings and job growth potential for popular engineering jobs.1

Network To Learn More

When doing your research, be sure to connect with professionals in the engineering field(s) you are most interested in. These can be professionals who work at respected companies in your area, engineers you know on a personal level or university professors. Here are a few questions you can ask to learn if a career in engineering is right for you:

  1. What do you like most about your job?
  2. What would you change about your job?
  3. What does a typical workday look like in your position?
  4. What are your typical working hours?
  5. Does your job require travel?

Grand Canyon University’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology offers quality learning experiences and a variety of degree programs that can support your career objectives in an engineering or STEM field. To learn more about our degree programs, click the Request More Info button at the top of this page.

1 Retrieved from: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Architecture and Engineering Occupations, in September 2020

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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