How to Become an Engineer
Engineer Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of an Engineer
Engineer Salaries
Influential Professional Engineers
Leading Organizations for Engineers
Top Cities for Engineering Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Engineer

When people mention the profession of "engineering", they are actually referring to a large category of specialties that could range from specializing in aerospace, chemical, environmental, mechanical, electrical, computer hardware, civil, nuclear, marine and so on. These all require specialized education, training and licensing. There are some areas that are considered "engineering" but that do not yet have formalized licensing requirements and lack a formal pathway to officially become a titled Professional Engineer (see below for more information), such as computer software engineering. (The rest of this article will discuss more about Professional Engineers.)

For an entry level engineering position, an engineering undergraduate degree is usually required. Sometimes, an applicant with a natural sciences or mathematics degree may get an entry level job, but that is not nearly as common. The curriculum for engineers at colleges and universities tends to be a highly regimented one with requirements not only for what courses must be taken, but what sequence they must be taken in and in specific combinations. The curriculum emphasis is on math, the specific engineer field and other hard sciences. Students often take an extra year to complete their degrees due to the rigor of the programs, and like other engineering programs, there are always a few areas that pose consistent and high levels of difficulty for students, such as mathematics.

Although a person could become a part of an engineering firm or work in a corporate department and be considered an engineer in general, the formal engineering designation is Professional Engineer (PE), which means that one is licensed by a particular state to offer their services directly to the public. In other words, the role of an engineer is broad, but the title of "engineer" is specific. To become a PE, there are a number of requirements, including graduating with an undergraduate degree from a specially program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), four years of experience, and an exam. There are two stages of becoming a PE, each categorized by passing exams. Upon completion of the first exam, (Fundamentals of Engineering), the PE candidate is called an "engineer in training" or "engineer intern". The second exam (Principles and Practice of Engineering) is usually only able to be taken after some years of work experience. Site licensing varies and some states require continuing education while others do not. Independent from state and other governmental regulators, there are other professional organizations that offer certification in special areas of engineering, such as those listed above under "How to Become an Engineer".

What does an Engineer do?

Although the tile of "engineer" can seem to be quite technical and specific, there are many areas of engineering; some of these areas are very different and some of them overlap quite a bit.

Engineers work in a particular area with a focus of applying their specialty focus in industry or sometimes research in general. It is very much about applied science. They are actually making things, figuring out how to make things better, testing things, etc. The specialized areas of engineering vary quite differently from each other. For example:

Chemical Engineers work with chemicals, both organic and inorganic, by helping discover them, research uses for them and pioneer manufacturing methods. They can be found in almost every manufacturing industry, including clothing, biotechnology, business services, energy, electronics, food, health care, and paper. Chemical engineers differ from chemists in general because they deal with the application of their discipline to industry, often with the aim of making products better or making the processes of production more efficient, safer or more environmentally sound.

Aerospace Engineers work with technology related to airplanes, spacecraft and rockets/missiles. This area of engineering can be more specifically defined, as an aeronautical engineer works specifically with aircraft and an astronautical engineer works with spacecraft. These sub divisions can be even further specified as a aeronautical engineer could focus on helicopters or military aircraft, etc. Aerospace engineer research is used for development of the physical and structural parts of various craft, navigation and guidance systems, communication technologies and craft/vessel manufacturing. Since engineering is all about applied science, there can be a heavy emphasis on testing, production and maintenance as well as performing design work and general research, as it is a part of the job to find and implement more efficient or safer manufacturing techniques.

Environmental Engineers work with applied life sciences deal with pollution or potential pollution problems. This involves working with air, water and land quality for human habitation and sometimes for habitation by other organisms. Environmental impact reports feature prominently in the day-to-day work of environmental engineers. These would be the scientist involved in studying the impact of an industrial plant near the ocean or a metropolitan area's automobile emissions impact, designing municipal waste-management systems, and advising on how to treat an oil spill or the toxification of an environment. In order to do all these things, a strong understanding of the laws surrounding the environment and human impact is important.

Other Engineering careers include:
Civil Engineers
Electrical Engineers
Electronics Engineers
Industrial Engineers
Mechanical Engineers
Mining Engineers
Nuclear Engineers
Structural Engineers

What skills or qualities do I need to become an Engineer?

Engineers must, of course, be able to complete all the necessary educational and professional requirements to become engineers at all. This indicates an intelligence type that is analytical, detail oriented and inquisitive. Creativity is also a necessary trait. Interpersonal skills are also highly necessary, as engineers almost always work with teams and other departments. Language - spoken and written - are also necessary due to not only the teaming aspect of an engineer's job but also because of the necessity to communicate findings, present recommendations, etc. in written form.

How much does an Engineer make?

Again, due to the diversity within "engineering" in general, and depending on whether or not one is talking about Professional Engineers or other types of engineering that is unlicensed, the category is too broad to provide specific numbers. However, it is fair to say that due to the highly technical nature of engineering in general, the fact that it is a licensed profession and that most engineers are employed in industry, wages are on the mid-to-high/high five-figures and possible low six figures.
Engineer Salary | More details for Engineer Jobs | Salary

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Due to the incredibly fast nature of disciplines within engineering, one would really have to go to each field and look up who is a leader in chemical engineering, aerospace engineering or environmental engineering. In other words, it is impossible to provide a list of "leading engineers." However, a good rule of thumb is to look up each engineering specialty's leading professional organization and look at the board members and advisors of each group.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

ABET - Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Oversees accreditation of college and university engineering programs.

National Society of Professional Engineers - Primary national professional organization for PEs across all disciplines.

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying - national organization composed of licensing boards from all US states and territories.

For a lists of state boards, visit the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying's website.

What are the top cities for Engineering jobs?

The "hot spots" for engineering vary according to the type of engineering one wishes to practice. For example, Texas as a state employs the highest number of chemical engineers, mostly due to the number of petroleum companies there. The state of Washington employs the highest number of aerospace engineers due to Boeing and a Lockheed facility being located there.

Other Careers of Interest

Aerospace Engineer
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Audio Visual Engineer
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Chemical Engineer
Although the tile of "engineer" can seem to be quite technical and specific, there are many areas of engineering; some of these areas are very different...

Civil Engineer
Although the tile of "engineer" can seem to be quite technical and specific, there are many areas of engineering; some of these areas are very different...

Electrical Engineer
Although the tile of "engineer" can seem to be quite technical and specific, there are many areas of engineering; some of these areas are very different...

Electronics Engineer
Although the tile of "engineer" can seem to be quite technical and specific, there are many areas of engineering; some of these areas are very different...

Environmental Engineer
Although the tile of "engineer" can seem to be quite technical and specific, there are many areas of engineering; some of these areas are very different...

Industrial Engineer
Industrial Engineers employ scientific and mathematical principles to solve technical problems. In essence, an Industrial Engineer effectively determines...

Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical engineers are involved in the processes of researching and designing, developing, fabrication and verification of machines, various types...

Mining Engineer
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Nuclear Engineer
Nuclear engineers do a number of tasks, some of which include: research on nuclear engineering problems; application of nuclear scientific theoretical...

Structural Engineer
Structural engineers analyze, design, plan, and research structural components and the systems that those components make up. While their work normally...

Transportation Engineer
There are several aspects to this job. For example, there is the planning side of transport engineering as it relates to urban planning, technical...

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