What is it like to work as an engineer?
Engineers do so many different things that there isn’t one simple explanation. Here are some things that many engineering jobs have in common. Most engineers do some of these things some of the time.
- work in teams, help other people
- explore, research, prototype, model
- problem solve, analyze, design
- plan, build, manage
- communicate with others
Meet the engineers. Here are profiles of engineers working in many different subject areas and organizations.
In a 2009 survey, engineer is the hardest job to fill in America.
- “Companies are looking to replace more than half of their engineers over the next eight years, because baby boomers are retiring,” Jacobson says. “When you have 80,000 engineers working for you, as Lockheed Martin does, that’s a lot of jobs.” He says that even if every single seat in the nation’s engineering schools is filled, that’s only 75,000 engineers being trained annually. That won’t come close to making up the shortage. Engineering is a field that requires years of experience before you take on major responsibility. It’s one thing to learn the theory of building a bridge or a tunnel in school, but it’s quite another to have decades of work at it behind you. more…
The IEEE publishes a special report each year with what’s new and interesting in engineering in the workplace. These are good descriptions of exciting new fields of engineering and what these engineers are working on.
- IEEE Dream Jobs 2014 – Baseball-fanatic-turned-engineer Mark Perry develops systems to track pitches and swings. Brandon Pearce’s Avionics Guide SpaceX Rockets
- IEEE Dream Jobs 2013 – Marcia Lee shapes the Khan Academy’s tools for Web-based instruction. Christian Ochsenbein was the engineer on board the only solar boat to circumnavigate the globe
- IEEE Dream Jobs 2011 – Gus Lott designs virtual reality systems for bugs and rats so that we can study their brains—and ours. As the lead engineer for NEPTUNE Canada, Lucie Pautet manages a seafloor sensor network.
Engineering job listings – There are many sites that list engineering jobs that employers need to hire
- Skill Cow – includes “test” to help you determine what jobs you might like to work at, descriptions of many different types of jobs including engineering
total engineers working – men, women
SCANS skills for “learning a living”
A high-performance workplace requires workers who have a solid foundation in the basic literacy and computational skills, in the thinking skills necessary to put knowledge to work, and in the personal qualities that make workers dedicated and trustworthy. High-performance workplaces also require: the ability to manage resources, to work amicably and productively with others, to acquire and use information, to master complex systems, and to work with a variety of technologies. —What Work Requires of Schools
What’s the problem?
Problem solver – For most engineering jobs, problem solving is the main part of the job. Learning more about the work of engineers can be viewed as an engineering problem that can be solved guided by the steps in the [/Engineering%20Design%20Process Engineering Design Process].
- Ask – What sort of things do you like to do? What are you good at? Working with other people? Solving complex problems? Teaching other people about something you understand? Working with your hands to make things?
- Imagine – What are some jobs that you think that you would like to do? Would you be interested in that for a long time?
- Plan, Create – What do you think you might be doing in 10 years from now? What education and training are required for some of the jobs that interest you?
- Improve – What can you do now so you will be ready to to that work some day? Can you be a volunteer? Can you talk to someone who is doing this work now?
- explore, research, prototype, model, problem solve, analyze, design, plan, build, manage, communicate
Here are some challenges for you to work on…
- iON Future: The STEM Career Exploration Game – explore STEM careers, find the ones that best match your interests and then play your way to your dream STEM future. (slow to load)
- research 3-5 types of engineering jobs. Compare the job descriptions. What elements of each job would you like to do?
- Engineering activities – links to engineering activities and resources
- careers information resources
- Born to Engineer videos – interviews with many different engineers
- Infographic: Most Asked Interview Questions & How To Answer Them
- Try Engineering – overview, games
- Decision-Making Techniques – How to make better decisions
- US Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics
- New York State Career Zone
- Careers in Engineering – Over 20,000 different job titles exist in the U.S. today, and that number is increasing. Many of the jobs you will be applying for haven’t even been created!
- What Work Requires of Schools – the five competencies and three-part foundation that constitute the SCANS skills.
- E is for Engineers