Acquiring an engineering degree opens many doors. While most follow the traditional path and pursue different engineering jobs, some opt out and pursue a different career entirely; implementing the skills and knowledge they have gathered from their engineering background.
Also called a technical communicator, this job entails providing written descriptions or instructions for products and processes. Information is researched and gathered on scientific and technical subjects to produce a manual or guide for users within the industry and for consumers of the product. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage of technical writers was $63,280 in May 2010 and the sector is projected to grow by 17% from 2010 to 2020. Most potential employers are in engineering and technology-based fields. To be successful in this field, one must have a strong technical background and good writing skills. One should be able to make complex information clear and understandable to readers who are unfamiliar with the subject. Fluency in another language is also an added advantage.
A very social choice, sales requires people who have excellent interpersonal skills. Coupled with a technical background that provided in-depth knowledge on products, engineers often have an advantage over non-technical sales people who struggle to provide detailed information to customers. Employers often include both large and small engineering companies as well as manufacturers of specialized engineering products from industrial machinery to medical diagnostic devices. According to BLS the median annual wage of sales engineers was $87,390 in May 2010. The field is expected to grow by 14 percent from 2010 to 2020, as fast as the average for all occupations. People in this field must ensure that their knowledge both in the engineering and sales field remains current as employers value sales engineers who are abreast with the latest technologies.
Sometimes called patent practitioners, these agents are involved in obtaining, protecting and granting legal monopolies on new products and processes. They possess expertise in both the scientific and legal aspects of the patenting process and are often hired by individuals or groups who have an invention they would like to patent. Their work involves drafting plans in a patent specification, the patent application process, patent strategy, patent examination and patent control. Patent agents are required to hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering and have to complete an application, take a test and be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) before getting hired by private sector companies or citizens, or the federal government. In 2009, the American Intellectual Property Law Association issued a report indicating that patent agents earned $110,000 – $121,000 annually.
Depending on one’s education and level of experience, teaching options for engineers are varied and suitable for people who are highly skilled in working with those who have varying levels of expertise. Expected to grow by 17 percent from 2010 to 2020, employment, BLS reported that the median annual wage for engineering teachers was $92,670 in May 2012. An engineer with a basic teaching certificate may start teaching at an elementary or high school level while one with a master’s degree or PhD can teach at a college level. Some stay within the industry and become instructors for companies, developing training programs for people in technical jobs. Depending on one’s background, teaching can cover a range of subjects such as robotics, updated methodologies or even new computer systems.
This is a suitable path for engineers with 10 or more years work experience who have managed to amass a list of reliable contractors, vendors and suppliers they can comfortably work with. Engineering consultants must have a strong technical background in terms of education, skills and work experience. They can specialize in different areas depending on their area of focus. Some work on behalf of a private employer while others start up their own businesses. Clients include organizations from both the private and public sector such as federal, state and local governments. Engineering consultants analyze their clients’ problems and recommend a solution.Therefore they must possess excellent communication skills to be successful in this field. Solid knowledge in business, administration and finance is also a plus.
While engineering and investment banking seem to be unrelated, some of the skills engineers acquire are necessary for the transition into banking. To be successful in investment banking one must be good in math and the use of spreadsheets, something that engineers study and work with all the time. Most employers tend to favor engineers while hiring due to this advantage. An engineer looking to break into this field must attend business school and try to build their experience by working on finance-related projects to boost up their qualifications. Employers in this field search for candidates who will be familiar with and are able to execute the technical financial requirements of the job so engineers pursuing this field should have a solid grasp of accounting and other financial concepts.
Project managers monitor and ensure engineering projects are completed on time and within the budget. These projects may vary from the construction of buildings and bridges or the development of consumer products and software equipment. Handling multiple projects at a time, project managers create the scheduling for a project, obtain equipment and tools, coordinate the financial terms of a project and reduce any risks. They work closely with other specialists such as architects, engineers, stonemasons, electricians, and carpenters. Project managers must have practical experience and certification will help to show employers that they have demonstrated project management skills.
Global Development Professional
International development organizations employ people of diverse backgrounds. Engineers with an interest in developing countries tend to be a good fit for such environments. Some of the skills developed from engineering – organization, analytical, problem-solving – can easily be transferred to this setting. Engineers are able to identify problems and create solutions for common problems like water procurement and transportation issues. They can also design appropriate technologies and develop strategic plans for refugee relocation.