We have engineers to thank for the majority of the machines that make our lives easier, from cars to zippers. These talented minds continuously develop innovative ideas to make the world a better place. This makes it only natural to want to pursue a career in the engineering field, especially if you are creative and have a problem-solving mind.
If you’re interested in an engineering career, you may want to learn about the daily activities of engineers, including their roles and responsibilities. Knowing the average engineer salary and common side hustles for engineers will help you decide if engineering is the ideal career for you. This article will tell you about the typical day in the life of an engineer, guide you through the average engineer salary, and show you how to become an engineer.
What Is an Engineer?
An engineer is a professional who uses knowledge of math and science to develop, design, and maintain machines, engines, or structures that solve problems and make life easier. Engineering is a broad field with many career opportunities, and engineers can work in various fields depending on their area of expertise, including agriculture, manufacturing, and construction.
What Does an Engineer Do On a Daily Basis?
What an engineer does on a daily basis differs based on their area of specification, but their general engineering roles and job duties may be similar. Engineers mostly have to create and design plans, test them, supervise a team of experts working on projects, report to clients, and work on financial budgets.
- Create and design plans. Engineers are professionals who design and develop machines and products to solve problems and make life easy. To achieve this, they have to continually design plans for these products, requiring them to start their day creating and reviewing plans.
- Create and monitor financial budget. These experts often have to create the financial budget to execute the plan. A civil engineer, for instance, would have to make a budget that would be used to start and complete a construction project. They would also have to monitor the finances to ensure they don’t exceed the proposed budget and help solve any budget issues that arise.
- Supervise the team of experts executing the plan. Engineers create the plan but get experts from different fields to bring the project to life. They have to supervise the project team to ensure that they deliver quality work and keep to the schedule.
- Meet with clients to deliver reports. These professionals also have to meet with their clients to keep them updated on the project’s progress. The clients will need to stay updated to ensure that the project is going as planned and know if any developments require their attention, so being an engineer will require good communication skills.
- Ensure products meet the requirements. Upon completing a project, the engineers have to hand over the project to the clients. Before this, they have to ensure that the product being delivered is up to the required standard and satisfies the client’s needs.
How Can I Become an Engineer?
You can become an engineer through various means, like earning a college degree, taking online courses, joining a bootcamp, and earning certifications. While not all of these will help you start an engineering career, they are required for career advancement, which you should aim for.
The best and fastest way to become an engineer is to earn a degree. Depending on what works for you and what field you’re interested in, this could be an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. An undergraduate engineering degree would take about four years to complete depending on the area of study, while an associate degree would typically take two years.
Engineering Online Courses
Online courses are offered on massive open online course (MOOC) platforms, such as Coursera, Udacity, and Stanford Online, with courses covering various fields of study. While you are not guaranteed to start a career in engineering by taking online courses, they can help with your career growth. You can take them to stay updated on relevant trends and boost your resume.
For instance, you could take an online industrial engineering course to amp up your salary as an industrial engineer. Having online certificates on your resume will highlight your skills to your employer.
Engineering bootcamps are typically available for software engineering and computer engineering. Bootcamps are a good way to start a career in both fields without going to college as they equip you with the relevant knowledge and skills required of a professional. The best computer and software engineering bootcamps are short-term, immersive, and offered in different formats.
There are various engineering certifications available for different skill levels. These certifications are evidence of your skills, and many of them are highly recognized by employers in the industry. To earn an industry-specific certification, you will have to take an exam and sometimes complete classes or courses to qualify. They are a good way to attain career growth.
How Can I Get a Job as an Engineer?
Getting a job as an engineer is not a difficult task as long as you follow the required steps. Engineering is a broad field with many job opportunities and impressive salaries. To start a career in this field, you will have to get educated. Without an education, you cannot become an engineer, as there are too many delicate tasks that require expertise that can only be learned.
However, the level of education that you attain depends on you as it determines your job and career growth. Next, it is advised that you get job experience as most recruiters prefer that. You will then have to obtain a certification as evidence of your skills, build a strong network, and take advantage of job boards. You can find out how to achieve these goals below.
Steps to Finding a Job as an Engineer
- Get an education
The first step to becoming an engineer is getting an education or earning a degree. Engineering is a field that requires a certain level of expertise to practice, which cannot be done without schooling. You can attend a university, community college, or a vocational school for a program in your desired field of engineering.
- Consider training opportunities
You may be lucky to land a good job soon after graduation. However, it is recommended that you apply for an engineering apprenticeship or internship with a company in your field. This will expose you to real-life projects and help you gain the necessary job experience to apply for better jobs. You should research how to write an effective engineering internship cover letter before applying.
- Take an engineering exam
As a fresh graduate, you may not necessarily need a license to practice, but it is advised that you consider taking a professional exam. These engineering exams serve as evidence of your skills to show your potential employer that you can perform your role efficiently. This will give you a competitive advantage in the engineering job market.
- Build a strong network
Building a network of professionals is an essential aspect of your engineering career. Networking should be a priority while you’re finding your footing in the industry. You can start by making the right friends in college, joining industry forums and communities, and attending industry events. These will help you gain awareness of job openings and help you learn new skills.
- Take advantage of job boards
Job boards are online platforms that post job openings from various industries, companies, and locations. They are an excellent way to find out about the latest job openings in any field, including engineering. You should job boards to your advantage to find jobs as an engineer. Some are Indeed, SimplyHire, ZipRecruiter, and Zippia.
What Is the Average Salary of an Engineer?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary of engineers is $91,010, which is more than twice the median wage for all US workers. The yearly salary of each engineering occupation will differ as some earn more than others. However, engineers earn an impressive salary, generally.
Salary for an Entry-Level Engineer
According to ZipRecruiter, the annual average salary of an entry-level engineer is $49,110. The majority of entry-level engineers earn about $40,000 per annum, but there are yearly salaries as high as $58,500 and $63,000. These amounts vary based on skill level, location, and experience level.
Salary for a Mid-Level Engineer
According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary of mid-level engineers is $79,359. This amount may vary based on the mid-level engineer’s skill and experience level, industry, and location. While the lowest earners earn about $26,500, there are salaries as high as $131,000 for mid-level engineers.
Salary for a Senior-Level Engineer
A senior-level engineer earns an annual average salary of $105,960 according to ZipRecruiter. The highest earners make an average of $144,500, the majority earn between $87,000 to $119,500, while the lowest earners make about $57,500. A senior-level engineer’s salary varies, based on their skill, experience, location, and industry.
Job Outlook for an Engineer
Engineers have a decent job outlook as there is a projected growth of six percent for engineering occupations, which is similar to the average job outlook across all occupations. Each engineering field has its own job outlook, but, together, there is an expected employment opportunity of about 146,000 jobs for engineers between 2020 and 2030. Mechanical, industrial, and civil engineering have the highest job outlooks in the field.
Should I Become an Engineer?
You should become an engineer if you are creative, enjoy problem-solving, and have a strong mathematical background. Engineers have to work using math, science, and sometimes art to develop unique innovations that make life easier. Because engineering is in high demand, the field offers numerous job opportunities, and engineers earn high salaries, making it a promising career path to pursue.
A Day in the Life of an Engineer FAQs
On a typical day, an engineer will go through design plans, communicate with clients, go to the site of a project to supervise workers, monitor a project’s finances, and work with other experts to solve problems and develop better ideas. This all depends on the engineer’s role and industry.
A day in an engineer’s life will consist of going through design plans, making corrections, coming up with new ideas, working with the engineering team, the design team, and other departments, monitoring the project’s progress, testing the quality of a product, and reporting to clients.
Engineers design, build, test, install, and maintain a wide range of products, machines, and structures in real life.
Depending on the role and industry, a full-time engineer may work 40 to 50 hours per week. When they have an ongoing project, they may spend more or less time on it. If they work for a large company that takes on large projects, their work hours may be longer.
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