With so many engineering fields, how do you choose the right engineering career path for you? Energy, mechanics, biology, aeronamics and computer science - the diverse range of engineering directions can be overwhelming. At Kangan Institute, we have put together a guide to help you choose the right engineering career path for you.
Choosing the right engineering career path depends on the industry you would like to work in, the ideal career you would like to have and the life you want to lead. Engineering companies offer roles in a range of various positions, from specialist technology development to commercial and managerial roles. Different people are suited to very different roles so make sure you have a good think about what would be good for you.
Are you interested in developing technical expertise and becoming a specialist in your field or be in control of troubleshooting production line issues in a manufacturing facility? Perhaps you would like to investigate into commercial areas such as supply chain management or build experience to move into a managerial role?
If you are not sure, you should look to study a course that will allow you to work in various positions before you make your decision to specialise in a specific area of engineering. You wouldn’t start an engineering project without researching the problem, so planning your career should be no different. Whether you know what industry or engineering role you want to enter, it is worth spending the time to consider all the opportunities available to you.
The size of your employer is likely to affect how broad or specific your role will be. When it comes to smaller employers, graduates are likely to be recruited into specific roles, whereas many bigger firms will offer graduate programmes that provide experience across a broad spectrum of engineering positions.
If you choose to work for a larger company in the engineering industry, they may offer you the opportunity to undertake commercial roles as well as technical roles, for instance working in the finance department or in a supply chain. Working for a smaller company may award you with more responsibility at an early stage and may give an overview of various aspects of work. Niche companies are a great option if you are looking to become a specialised technical expert.
All engineering companies will operate differently, even if they are the same industry. Consider what environment would be the right fit for you, perhaps a fast-paced factory, creating technical drawings with CAD, or an offshore oil rig in the middle of the sea. Some positions may involve you spending a lot of time outdoors while other positions can be predominantly office based. Another factor to consider is the balance between time spent in different places. Would you be happy working all week in one location or would you prefer some variety?
When choosing the right engineering career path think about how mobile you are prepared to be. Are you happy to move around the country, or even across the world from client to client site? Would you like to spend a large amount of your time overseas or have the possibility of permanent relocation? If this isn’t the lifestyle for you, you can choose to stay in one place and become part of an office based team.
Some engineers are required to travel a lot, especially oil and gas engineers who generally need to be globally mobile. Your required working hours entirely depends on the type of role you are in. Manufacturing engineers may be required to do shift work, whilst those involved in maintenance sometimes work unusual hours due to being on call.
When deciding on choosing the right engineering career path, try to get a feel for the culture and the work of the employers you feel passionate and enthusiastic about. Interviews, career fairs and networking events provide a great opportunity to gain insights into the industry and to get a true feel for the working environment. Make the most of opportunities to talk to current employees and even ask questions to recruiters to find out if engineering is the right career path for you.