All You Need To Know About An Engineer Career
You consider becoming an engineer but are not sure whether this is the right career path for you or not?
Stick with me since I will show you all you need to know about being an engineer in the following chapters.
Not only will you learn how much you can make as an engineer, but we will also talk about job prospects, satisfaction, working hours, educational requirements and much more.
At the end of this article, I will also provide you with an FAQ section where you can find answers to the most common questions related to working as an engineer.
After reading this article, you will have a much better idea of what an engineering career really looks like and whether you still want to work in this field or rather want to go for a different career path instead.
Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
What does an Engineer do?
Engineers solve technical problems and develop new products so that the overall level of productivity can be increased over time and our living standards can improve as well.
Engineers are also crucial to assure the competitiveness of a country since only if companies are able to produce at a competitive price, they will be able to stay in business in the long run and will provide jobs and pay taxes.
Responsibilities & Duties of an Engineer
- Improvement of existing products
- Creation of new products
- Assuring productivity gains
- Making detailed drawings on how to improve products step-by-step
- Forecasting the future and developing products that will stay competitive in the long run
- Strengthening a company’s market position by inventing products nobody else has
- Seeing trends and responding accordingly
- Using complex mathematical models to see what’s possible
- Carrying out experiments
- Using latest software and hardware to create amazing products
- Reporting to management bodies
- Estimation of costs of new products
- Compliance with regulatory and legal requirements
What a Typical Day of an Engineer looks like?
Most engineers start working between 8 and 10 a.m.
After checking their mails and answering the most important ones, engineers get to their actual work.
To improve and invent new products, engineers mainly work with a computer but still make manual drawings from time to time.
Engineers also often work in teams on different parts of a big project and you will therefore also have to frequently coordinate yourself with your colleagues to assure an efficient workflow.
After working for 8 to 10 hours, engineers usually finish their workday between 5 and 7 p.m.
Engineer Salary 2021
Engineer salary brackets 2021
|Salary Brackets||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Top 10 %||> $132,000||> $65.82|
|Top 25 %||$97,000 – $111,000||$48.31 – $55.29|
|Bottom 25 %||$55,000 – $67,000||$27.45 – $33.37|
|Bottom 10 %||$46,000 – $52,000||$22.92 – $25.88|
|Range||$46,000 – $148,000||$22.92 – $73.86|
Engineer salary 2021 by expert level
|Level of Experience||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|Entry level||$46,000 – $57,000||$22.92 – $28.32|
|Junior||$55,000 – $68,000||$27.35 – $33.91|
|Professional||$64,000 – $86,000||$31.93 – $42.88|
|Senior Professional||$78,000 – $95,000||$38.87 – $47.38|
|Expert||$92,000 – $116,000||$45.91 – $57.84|
|Top Expert||$113,000 – $148,000||$56.34 – $73.86|
Engineer salary by state 2021 (average)
|State||Salary (per year)||Salary (per hour)|
|District of Columbia||$80,200||$40.03|
Job Security for Engineers
Engineers enjoy pretty high job security.
In fact, there is a lack of qualified engineers in many states and regions and if you are really good at what you are doing, chances are that you will not have to fear losing your job as an engineer anytime soon since even if you do, you will find a new one pretty easily.
Future Job Prospects of Engineers
Engineers will also be in pretty high demand in the future.
Good engineers will not have to worry about getting unemployed for many years or even decades and becoming an engineer can therefore make quite a lot of sense if you search for a job that pays well but still provides decent job security at the same time for many years to come.
Working Hours of Engineers
Engineers start their workday between 8 and 10 a.m. and finish their workday between 5 and 7 p.m. most of the time.
If you work for a big company, you will also be quite flexible regarding when to start and when to get home from work and working as an engineer therefore enables you to spend more than enough time with your family.
Job Satisfaction of Engineers
Most engineers are pretty happy with what they are doing for a living since they can make decent money while they still have enough time to spend with their loved ones or on their hobbies.
In fact, most engineers work in a classical 9 to 5 environment and don’t have to work many extra hours as investment bankers, consultants or many other people in the financial industry have to do on a regular basis.
Promotion Opportunities of Engineers
You will also have pretty decent promotion options as an engineer.
While you will start out as a junior employee, you can climb the corporate ladder soon and if you are willing to work hard, you can get into a leading position within your company within one decade.
Career Levels of Engineers
- Engineer intern
- Junior engineer
- Senior engineer
- Engineer with budget and/ or personnel responsibility
- Engineer reporting directly to senior management
- Management engineer responsible for managing the whole engineering department
- Member of the board of directors at an engineering firm
Fields and Types of Engineers
- Engineer specialized in vehicles
- Engineer specialized in machines
- Engineer focused on green tech
- Chemical engineer
- Civil engineer
- Mechanical engineer
- Construction engineer
- Water engineer
- Electrical engineer
- Computer engineer
- Aerospace engineer
- Materials engineer
- Agricultural engineer
- Energy engineer
- Engineer focused on the improvement of products
- Engineer focused on the invention of new products
Educational Requirements for Engineers
You need to get a college degree for working as an engineer most of the time.
While an undergraduate degree in engineering or related studies will often be enough, some companies require you to get a master’s degree or even a doctor’s degree.
How to become an Engineer
- Inform yourself about the advantages and disadvantages of being an engineer
- Apply for an engineering degree at your favorite colleges
- Start your college degree
- Get good grades
- Apply for an internship at renowned companies
- Make a good impression during your internship
- Stay in touch with your colleagues
- Finish your college degree
- Apply for jobs in this industry and use your contacts to get a foot in the door
- Start your engineering career and work hard
- Get into a leading position
- Try and make the world a better place
Character Traits you need as an Engineer
- Creativity is key to invent new products and making existing products better
- Persistence helps to overcome difficult times
- Patience to invent the best products possible
- Empathy for customers helps to invent products the general public actually needs
- You should be a reliable person whom people can trust
- You should be open to work in a team of ambitious engineers
- Ability to work for a big goal even if you have to compromise quite often
- You should never give up and always push forward
- You should be open to new things and always adjust to the fast technological progress
Hard Skills for Engineers
- Excellent engineering skills
- College degree in engineering or related fields
- Good spatial thinking
- Excellent problem-solving skills
- Good analytical skills
- Ability to detect problems and to find solutions
- Good programming skills
- Good technical skills in general
- Ability to forecast the future
Soft Skills for Engineers
- Patience is key to stay in the game in the long run
- You need to work on your skills all the time
- Ability to incorporate technological progress and adjusting according to it
- You should be a team player to be able to work on complex problems and to find solutions to them
- Persistence helps you to overcome difficult times
- You should believe in yourself
- Good communication skills are crucial to satisfy various stakeholders
- Good people skills if you want to work in a management position
- Empathy is key to keep things under control
Exit Options for Engineers
Since engineers learn many skills that are valuable in the job market right now, they also have decent exit options.
For instance, many engineers are also able to work as programmers, electricians, consultants, technical writers and in many other fields.
Engineer – Similar Careers
- Construction worker
- Metal worker
- Software developer
Engineer Career FAQs
Is working as an engineer physically demanding?
You will not have to work in a physical manner as an engineer most of the time since you will work mostly with a computer and let machines do most of the work.
Consequently, working as an engineer is not physically demanding at all and you don’t have to fulfill any special requirements in this regard.
Is working as an engineer mentally demanding?
Working as an engineer can be extremely mentally demanding since you will have to solve many complex problems and will also have to think quite a lot to find the best possible solutions.
Consequently, most engineers are pretty smart and also have spend lots of brainpower at work.
Is it dangerous to work as an engineer?
Working as an engineer is not dangerous since you will work in a classical office environment for most of the time and will not have to fear getting involved in accidents at work as many other people out there.
In turn, most engineers feel pretty safe at work and can really enjoy their workday.
How long do engineers stay in their jobs?
Most engineers stay in their jobs for quite a long time since they really enjoy what they are doing and also make pretty good money at the same time.
Consequently, their incentive to switch fields is pretty low.
Is it easy for engineers to find a new job?
It is pretty easy to find a new job as an engineer right now since there is a shortage of qualified engineers in many states.
Hence, you don’t have to fear losing your job since even if you do, you will find a new one pretty soon and may even get better working conditions.
Is it hard to switch from being an engineer to another field of work?
Since engineers learn many skills that are valuable in the job market right now, they are also able to work in many different fields.
In fact, you will not only have excellent career prospects in engineering departments of companies, but you can also work as a programmer or in other fields depending on your individual skillset.
Do engineers have a high social status?
While engineers don’t directly save lives, they also don’t have the same high social status as doctors.
However, engineers still have a decent social status and many people out there will admire and envy you for your fancy career.
Can you help out your family and friends as an engineer?
While you can make a real difference for the success of the company you work for, it will be rather hard for you to help out your family and friends as an engineer since you will often work on complex problems but will still not know how to fix minor issues that come along in daily life.
Can engineers work remotely?
Engineers are often able to work remotely for at least some days of the workweek.
If you just do all of your work on a computer, you may even be able to completely work from home, even though this is rather rare and you will have to get to your workplace in person from time to time in most companies.
Is it easy to find a partner as an engineer?
Since engineers have a decent social status, make good money and also don’t have to work long hours, they will also have an easy time finding a partner since they can provide for a family and can also spend enough time with their loved ones.
Do engineers have to work on weekends?
Engineers don’t have to work on weekends.
Instead, you can spend those days with your family or your friends or also on your favorite hobbies.
You can also make nice weekend trips while many other people like waiters or train drivers still have to work during those days.
Do engineers have to work on holidays?
Engineers also don’t have to work on national holidays.
Instead, you can celebrate those special days with your loved ones and you can also invite old friends over to your home to stay in touch with them while many other people who have to work during those holidays will not have this kind of luxury.
Do engineers have to work at nighttime?
Engineers also don’t have to work at nighttime.
Most engineers work in a classical 9 to 5 environment and will therefore often come home from work early.
In turn, most engineers also don’t have to deal with sleeping problems related to their work since they can maintain a healthy sleeping rhythm.
Do you have to travel as an engineer?
While you will not have to travel as an engineer while you still work in a junior position, business trips may become more common once you reach a certain level and the more responsibility you get and the higher you climb the corporate ladder, the more likely it is that you will have to travel the country or even the world and that you will be away from home on a regular basis.
Are engineer pensions good?
Since engineers make good money, they also have a decent pension.
Moreover, you can also save and invest enough money for retirement and if you do this wisely, you will not have to worry about old-age poverty that much but can rather have a comfortable life even after quitting your active career.
Are engineer salaries going up?
Engineer salaries have been going up significantly over the past years and decades.
This is due to the fact that there is a lack of qualified engineers out there and if you are really good at what you are doing and also have a talent for forecasting the future, you will be able to make great money from an engineering career sooner or later.
Can you have a positive effect on society as an engineer?
Since you will improve and invent many products, you can also have a big positive effect on society, at least if you really work in a field where you can make the world a better place and improve the living conditions of many people out there.
How long does it take to become an engineer?
Since you will have to get a college degree, you will also have to spend at least three years on education before you can work as an engineer.
Some companies even require you to get a master’s or a doctor’s degree and you should therefore really make sure that you want to work as an engineer for quite a long time to make it worth the initial investment.
Is it difficult to become an engineer?
Studying engineering can be pretty demanding on a mental level and if you don’t have a certain talent for it, chances are that your grades will be pretty poor or that you even fail and never graduate.
Hence, becoming an engineer is a demanding career path and you should really make sure that you are willing to work hard for your dream.
Do you need to be smart to work as an engineer?
While you don’t have to be a genius to become an engineer, getting your engineering degree will still be demanding on a mental level and you should therefore be willing to study hard and should also have a talent for analytical and spatial thinking.
Do engineers have a good work-life balance?
Since engineers enjoy free holidays, weekends and also don’t have to work at nighttime, most engineers are pretty happy with their work-life balance since they can make decent money while they still have enough time to spend with their favorite people and on their hobbies.
Do engineers have to work many extra hours?
Engineers don’t have to work many extra hours.
Most engineers don’t work more than 40 hours per week and also often come home from work early.
In turn, it will be pretty easy for you to plan your evenings as an engineer and you can also meet up with your friends after work while many other people still have to work in the evening.
How to maximize your chances of becoming an engineer?
The more experience and the more contacts you have, the easier it will be for you to work as an engineer at a renowned company.
Hence, you should work as an intern and stay in touch with your colleagues so that you already have a foot in the door once you finish your studies and apply for jobs.
Can engineers work part-time?
While it is possible to work part-time as an engineer in many companies out there, most engineers still work full-time since they want to make more money and also really enjoy what they are doing.
In turn, most engineers just don’t have an incentive to work part-time.
Do engineers work indoors or outdoors?
Engineers work indoors for most of the time.
In fact, most engineers work in classical office jobs and can therefore make their workday as convenient as possible while many other people have to work outdoors and will have to deal with adverse weather conditions on a regular basis.
What does the workplace of an engineer look like?
Due to our technological progress, most engineers mainly work with a computer and use software to solve complex mathematical issues instead of doing all the work on paper.
Consequently, you will work in a classical office environment and if you want to do more hands-on work, you should rather go for a different career instead.
Do you have to look good for working as an engineer?
Your looks don’t matter for your engineering career. You will just have no contact with clients at all and will rather work internally with your colleagues.
In turn, it doesn’t matter whether you look good as long as your quality of work is decent and you provide real value to the company you work for.
Is an engineering career beneficial for your private life?
Thanks to your good salary and your decent work-life balance, your engineering career can also be pretty beneficial for your private life since you can provide for your family and still have enough leisure to spend with your loved ones which makes it less likely that your partner cheats on you and your relationship ends.
Do you need a college degree for becoming an engineer?
You need at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering or in a related field to work as an engineer.
Quite often, companies require you to get a master’s or even a doctor’s degree and you will therefore have to invest quite a lot of money and time in your career.
Do you need to be certified to work as an engineer?
Apart from a college degree, you don’t need to get additional certificates for succeeding as an engineer.
What’s much more important is that you get lots of practical knowledge as soon as possible so that you can provide real value to the company you work for and assure the competitiveness of this company in the long run.
How much does it cost to become an engineer?
Since you will have to get a college degree for getting an engineering job, you will also have to spend lots of money on tuition and other expenses related to college.
Consequently, many engineers have to take on six-figure college debt and have to pay back those enormous amounts of money later in their lives.
Is being an engineer a good career?
Since you will be able to enjoy decent work-life balance and can also make really good money from what you are doing, most people would consider working as an engineer a good career, especially if you are really interested in this topic and are not just in for the perks that come along with it.
Is it easy to start your own business as an engineer?
It is not easy to start your own business in the engineering industry since the development of new products often takes huge amounts of money and you as a private person will often not be able to financially afford those things.
In turn, most engineers will have to work as employees for the rest of their lives.
Can engineers teach themselves?
While you can teach yourself many practical skills that are valuable in the engineering industry, you will still need a degree in engineering before you are able to work in this field.
Do engineers make good money?
Engineers make pretty good money while they still don’t have to work many extra hours.
Consequently, becoming an engineer can be great for you if you are searching for a career that provides you with a decent lifestyle while you still want to have enough time for your hobbies and your loved ones.
Is it ever too late to become an engineer?
While you can still become an engineer in your 40s and 50s, it is still advisable to start your engineering career as soon as possible since you will have to invest lots of time and money on college education and the sooner you start, the more time you will have to make your investment worth it and also your chances in the job market will be higher while you are still young and healthy.
Do engineers have to quit their careers early?
Since most engineers mainly do computer work and don’t have to work with their hands in a heavy physical manner, they will also not have to quit their careers early but rather can work in this field for many decades until they reach retirement age and get their official pension.
What is the most challenging thing about working as an engineer?
The most challenging part of being an engineer is that you will always have to adjust to new market conditions since technological progress is quite fast and if you don’t adjust and learn new things all the time, you will become obsolete soon.
Can you provide for your family by working as an engineer?
Thanks to your good salary, you will also have an easy time providing for your family as an engineer.
In fact, many engineers don’t have to worry about money that much and can also afford a pretty decent lifestyle while they still don’t have to work as much as many other people who make similar amounts of money.
Will engineers suffer from old-age poverty?
Since engineers make decent money during their active careers, many of them get decent pensions and are also able to save enough money for retirement.
In turn, most engineers don’t have to worry about old-age poverty, at least if they spend their money wisely.
Can engineers retire early?
While engineers can make good money, most of them will still not be able to retire early.
If you want to retire early, you have to get into a leading corporate position and have to save lots of money since the more money you save at a young age, the more money you will have once you get older and the earlier you will be able to build a stable retirement fund.
Do engineers get a fixed or variable salary?
Most engineers get a fixed salary and the variable part of their salary will be pretty low.
However, once you climb the corporate ladder, your variable salary part may become bigger and your efforts and your work ethic may matter more for your bonus at the end of the year.
Can you get rich as an engineer?
While engineers can make decent money from what they are doing, it is still difficult to get rich as an engineer.
If you really want to get rich, you have to start your own engineering business instead of working as a normal engineer.
Do engineers need a second job?
Thanks to their good salary, most engineers don’t need a second job but can afford everything they need from the money they make from their engineering careers.
Do you get continuous training as an engineer?
In big corporations, you will get continuous training as an engineer so that you can improve your skills further and are also prepared for the future and the rapid technological progress we experience right now.
Only if you adjust to those conditions and get the necessary training, you will stay competitive in the job market.
Do you get paid when you are sick as an engineer?
Sick pay is pretty common in big corporations in the engineering industry.
However, if you want to be on the safe side, you should study your employment contract or ask your colleagues whether you have the privilege of sick pay or if you only make money when you work and don’t get paid in case you get sick.
Do engineers have a high level of responsibility?
While engineers are crucial for the success of a company, they still don’t have the same high level of responsibility as doctors whose mistakes could take away the lives of people on a daily basis.
Hence, you can still be rather relaxed at work since you know that your mistakes will only do some financial damage but will not put the lives of people at risk.
Can engineers work abroad?
Engineers are in high demand in many countries and it will therefore also be pretty easy for your to work abroad as an engineer.
However, you still have to make sure that your degree will be recognized in the local job market since you might have to go back to college otherwise.
Is it stressful to work as an engineer?
Working as an engineer is not that stressful. While you will have to use your brain quite often and will also have to work on complex problems, you will still not have the same stress level as many people out there whose decisions can really adversely affect the lives of money people.
Is it boring to work as an engineer?
Working as an engineer never gets boring, especially if you are really interested and passionate about what you are doing.
In such a case, there are just so many things to explore and to improve and opportunities to make a positive impact will just be everywhere.
Is being an engineer hard?
Since you will have to go to college for quite a long time and also have to solve complex problems at work on a regular basis, becoming and working as an engineer can be pretty hard.
However, you will still not have to work in a physical manner and will also not have to stress your body as much as someone who works in construction and may have to quit his or her career early due to spinal or other physical health issues.
Are engineers at risk of burnout?
Since engineers don’t have to work long hours and also have free weekends and holidays, they are not at great risk of burnout since they will have enough time to recover from stressful workdays while many other people out there don’t have this luxury and often work until they finally burn out sooner or later.
Is there a dress code for engineers?
There is no industry-wide dress code for engineers. Instead, you will be able to wear whatever you feel most comfortable in as long as you look tidy and groomed so that you can represent the company you work for in the best possible manner.
What kind of engineers are paid the most?
You can make the most money if you specialize in green tech or aerospace engineering.
Aerospace engineering is pretty complex and not many people are able to work in this field while green tech is an emerging market and will become increasingly important in the future.
Consequently, due to the shortage of qualified people in those fields, chances are that you will be able to make really good money in those industries.
What percentage of engineers are women?
Only around 15% of engineers are women. Hence, this industry is still dominated by men.
However, there is a trend of an increasing number of women entering the engineering world and this trend will likely continue in the future.
In fact, you will have excellent career opportunities in the engineering world as a woman due to gender quotas and also since companies want to get more balanced in this regard.
Do I need a mentor to succeed as an engineer?
You don’t need a mentor to succeed as an engineer.
However, you should still build a strong business network since the more contacts you have, the more people you will know and the more people you know, the more contacts you will have to numerous companies out there.
In turn, you will have almost freedom of choice regarding whom you want to work for since contacts are everything to find a new job quickly.
Will you be personally liable for mistakes as an engineer?
If you work as a normal employee, you will not be personally liable for mistakes you make as an engineer most of the time.
However, once you climb the corporate ladder, things may change and you may therefore want to get proper insurance in this regard.
Do engineers have a high life expectancy?
Since engineers don’t have to work in a dangerous work environment and also make good money so that they can afford proper medical treatment in case of emergency, engineers have a pretty decent life expectancy that exceeds the national average.
Do engineers suffer from sleeping problems?
Since engineers don’t have to work at nighttime, most of them also don’t suffer from sleeping problems related to their work.
In turn, you can get sufficient sleep as an engineer and can enjoy your time at work and your leisure much more compared to a person who is not able to sleep well.
What states are best for working as an engineer?
The best places to work as an engineer are where the big tech firms are.
Hence, California can be a great place to work as an engineer since you will have many different industries and can also make quite a lot of money from what you are doing.
Who do engineers work with?
Most engineers don’t have much contact with clients but rather work internally with their colleagues to invent new products that can finally be promoted to customers by sales and marketing experts.
Is working as an engineer cool?
Many people consider an engineering career to be cool.
However, you should still not choose a job according to other peoples’ opinions but you should rather ask yourself whether you want to do this job or not, independent of what society thinks about it to become happy in the long run.
Can you start a side hustle as an engineer?
It is relatively easy to start a side hustle as an engineer since you will have lots of technical knowledge and if you also have some programming skills, you can work on many digital products and may be able to make decent money on the side.
In the long run, you may even be able to turn your side hustle into a real business and may be able to quit your day job.
Do you have to be creative as an engineer?
You should be pretty creative as an engineer since the more creative you are, the higher the chance that you are able to come up with solutions to complex problems and this is what you get paid for in the long run.
How employable are engineers?
Engineers are pretty employable.
In fact, engineers are in high demand right now and there is a shortage of qualified workers in this industry.
Hence, you will almost have freedom of choice regarding whom you want to work for, at least if you are really good at what you are doing and are also passionate about your work in general.
Are engineers happy with their jobs?
Most engineers are pretty happy with their jobs since they are able to make good money from what they are doing for a living but still have enough time to spend with their loved ones.
Is working as an engineer exciting?
Working as an engineer can be pretty exciting since you will work on complex problems on a regular basis and no day will look the same.
Consequently, you will always experience new things at work and chances are that you will never get bored if you are interested in engineering in general.
Can you have a positive effect on our environment as an engineer?
Since engineers invent and improve products, you can have a significant positive effect on our environment since you can invent eco-friendly products to slow down climate change and to make our ways of life more sustainable in general.
What are the pros and cons of working as an engineer?
If you are still interested in working as an engineer, you should also have a look at additional pros and cons of an engineering career.
Interviews and own research.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.
This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.
Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.
I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.
Wanna support my blog? Share it!