Engineers are the problem solvers of the STEM world. They employ their vast knowledge in their chosen field to detect flaws in products and find new ways to improve them. In a way, engineers are inventors who use their skills to solve problems in a way no one else has before. Each problem presents a new set of constraints they must employ their intellect and creativity to create an ideal solution.
The name “engineering” is derived from the Latin words “ingeniare” and “ingenium”, which mean “to devise” and “creativity”. The discipline of engineering itself dates back to long before the days of the Latin language, however. The Seven Wonders of The World are a testament to the ingenuity of ancient engineers. Even the inventor of the wheel was an engineer of their day.
Engineers and STEM careers are growing at an exponential rate. Whether for progress or profit, companies are in dire need of creative intellectuals to create new solutions. Entrepreneurs, scientists, and social activists may all hire engineers to solve problems ranging from marketing a product, curing disease, or helping those in need.
How Much Do Engineers Make?
The average pay for an engineer is usually very high, averaging $70,000 per year. Engineers are in high demand, and the field is rapidly growing.
However, there are numerous disciplines of engineering. Pay varies greatly on the demand, experience, and education required for the job. For example, an Aerospace Engineer could make upwards of $100,000 per year due to the immense amount of study. An entry level engineer such as a Mechanical Engineering Technician may make around $55,000 per year. Although some engineers start on the bottom of the pay scale, experience and education will allow them to easily climb the ladder.
Most engineers spend a majority of their time at their firm’s office. However, some engineers may travel often for business. For example, a civil engineer may fly to the site of a construction projects to speak with the architects leading the project. They may travel to discuss ideas with clients and collaborate on group efforts. It is not uncommon for engineers to work 60 to 80 hours per week.
How to Become an Engineer
Education levels vary depending on the field of engineering one chooses. Most engineers pursue a master’s or doctorate degree. They can usually be licensed and hired after earning their associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Prospective engineers may also pursue an internship early on in their education.
In most cases, the process for being an engineer starts with education. After choosing a school and a degree, engineers will start looking at internships. They will either contact firms or they may receive internship offers. Once an engineer earns their associates or bachelor’s degree, they can acquire their license and officially sell their work. Engineers often study and intern at the same time, as the best engineering firms require a combination of work experience and education.
The average school curriculum for engineers places a large emphasis on math, science and physics. The range and depth of subjects one studies varies upon the degree they choose. While an Aerospace Engineer will study physics and math in-depth, a civil engineer may study subjects like materials science and chemistry with similar rigor.
Nearly all engineering firms require collegiate degree programs to be ABET, (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) certified. It is important to be certain one’s program is certified. Many employers will not hire an engineer from a non-ABET certified school.
In order to excel in the workplace, engineers must possess a number of personality traits and skills. They must be:
- Able to make decisions: A firm resolution and the ability to weigh out the pros and cons of every solution will speed up any project. Engineers are usually expected to be the final decision makers in most scenarios.
- Effective communicators: Solving a problem requires being able to understand complex ideas and get them across in a clear and concise manner.
- Organized: Engineers typically deal with multiple massive and complex projects at one time. Failure to organize their time, thoughts, and work will cause confusion.
- Mathematically inclined: An aptitude for math will aid engineers with solving complex problems.
- Efficient problem solvers: Being able to “think outside of the box” is a must. Engineers must be able to think critically and keep their ideas from being too tied down by real-world limitations – sometimes the craziest ideas can be made into something that works.