Egirl Team

AddedWednesday, June 19, 2019 at 1:37 PM

Can an engineering degree apply to careers other than engineering?

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I love engineering and find it very interesting and fun. However, I’m still exploring and there are a lot of different careers that seem interesting. Is it possible to pursue other careers with an engineering degree? If I decide to go a different way after getting an engineering degree, how can I apply what I learn in engineering to other careers?

Related to Choosing a Degree, Engineering Skills, Internships & Jobs, Merging Fields
  • Hope Bovenzi , Texas Instruments
    Answered Tuesday, June 25, 2019 at 9:29 AM

    Of course you can pursue something other than engineering after you achieve your degree – in fact, many people do! What's great about engineering is that it's a good "stepping stone" to many career options and opportunities. I know many people who have an engineering degree but eventually go into Sales, Marketing, Business Development, Venture Capitalist firms, etc. Engineering allows you to be able to understand the root of many technical issues, but that doesn't mean you need to only have a role that means being in the lab 24/7. I'd highly recommend starting with an engineering degree and then if you decide to go a different direction later, so be it. But the engineering degree will open up a lot of options for you.

  • Stacy Clark , Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 2:57 PM

    From my experience and others' experiences that I've seen, engineering degrees are highly respected even outside the field. I know people with engineering degrees who have gone into the finance sector, project management, and tech start-ups. I think hiring managers are interested in hiring entry-level folks with engineering degrees because they feel confident that an engineering graduate knows how to work hard and can think practically about things. I have personally used my degree and experience in engineering to pursue positions as a nonprofit technical program manager and as a nonprofit construction project manager. People without an engineering degree hold similar positions, but I believe my engineering degree and experience helped me get these jobs, negotiate a higher salary, and provide unique contributions to the organizations.

  • Peggy Layne , Virginia Tech
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 2:56 PM

    I love this question! I think that an engineering degree is a great preparation for a variety of careers. Among my classmates at my undergraduate institution, many went on to law school, medical school, and business school in addition to those who like me went into engineering practice. Even within engineering careers, there are a variety of types of employers, including small and large companies, government agencies at all levels, and nonprofits that need engineers. Many engineers move into management at some point in our career. I've moved from environmental engineering into public policy and workforce diversity over the course of my career. A foundational skill in engineering is problem solving, learning to analyze usually incomplete information and develop a step-by-step plan to address the problem at hand. So, there are many ways to apply engineering skills to a variety of careers.

  • Kara Kockelman , University of Texas at Austin
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 2:54 PM

    I always counsel having a STEM degree as an undergraduate, so that young people have a sufficiently rigorous background to open lots of professional doors and pathways. If someone is very interested in two quite different topic areas (e.g., civil engineering & art), they can major in both. It’s a nice balance for one’s brain in college, though such double-majors may require more than eight semesters of college courses if they don’t have a lot of advanced placement class credits.

    A B.S. degree in engineering can lead rather directly to successful careers and graduate degrees in law, business, economics, geography, urban planning, IT, marketing, and many other fields. Medical school will require another year or half-year of science coursework than the standard engineering degree provides. And students will want to read up or otherwise prepare for graduate degrees in specific programs that are very distinctive (e.g., moving into a Ph.D. in history or Spanish will require more background than engineering provides).

    A B.S. degree in engineering opens more doors than arguably any other degree. Definitely stick with STEM as an undergraduate to ensure lots of future options! Engineering education helps keep your mind ready for almost anything.

  • Tricia Berry , The University of Texas at Austin
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 2:53 PM

    I love the flexibility and creativity involved in being an engineer. With a degree in engineering, I’m ready to tackle a challenge in a variety of fields and have the creativity to come up with a number of solutions. I could use my technical skills to excel in sales within engineering companies or other tech and science industries. I could be a patent lawyer where my technical expertise is critical to the patent process. I could apply my problem solving skills to business challenges in the finance or retail or consumer products or any variety of industries. I could work (and I do actually work) in education, exciting the next generation of scientists and engineers. With the “I can figure it out” mindset that you gain with an engineering degree, the career path options are limitless.

  • Priscilla Bennett , Spire / Laclede Gas Company
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 2:47 PM

    It is absolutely possible to pursue other career paths after obtaining your engineering degree! I have my Bachelors and Masters in Industrial Engineering with a focus on Logistics. I worked in the Industrial Engineering group for a major auto manufacturer and loved the work. I moved to a Materials Engineer position for a vending machine manufacturer focused on Kaizen and Continuous Improvement projects and learned so much about instructing teams, lining out projects and logistically aligning upgrades/improvements to coincide with corporate goals. I also worked as a Project Engineer working on Continuous Improvement projects and soon found myself standing in front of classrooms full of construction personnel training them on software use. And now I am the Manager of an IT User Support team – managing personnel who support our field operations across multiple states. While most of my positions were in engineering departments, my current is not. Having a logistics background, project management experience, and work experience within the company (to know our business and what we do) is how I was awarded the position I currently hold.

    With every job, with every project, with every volunteer organization you participate, with your extracurricular activities, there is something to learn that will always benefit your career to some degree or another. I’ve always noted: “if you know everything, you learn nothing” and I believe that to this day. When we are open to learning, open to experiencing different aspects of our business, open to sharing what we know and in turn learning what others know, we grow. As we grow, we learn of new interests within our organizations and soon you’ll find yourself in a position that not only pays you well, but is a fun and exciting way to make a living. I say “keep exploring” and if you feel excited about doing another job, then you should give it a try. I’ve always told my nieces (who ask me about engineering) “if you want a guaranteed job, engineering and medicine will always be solid choices where you can always find a job” and that security is what has given me the “safety net” to try different roles and still always able to say “I’m an engineer”! The President of my company is also an Industrial Engineer!

    Keep on learning and exploring…you are definitely on the right path to success with this mentality! I’m rootin’ for you!!

  • Dalia Asterbadi , realSociable
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 2:42 PM

    Absolutely! Engineering is a foundation to empower you to think critically, apply sound logic, and develop the tools in designing a solution to address challenges. It’s defined simply as the action of working artfully to bring something about (Google), which ultimately allows you to define your own path. In fact, it opens the possibility of re-imagining traditional industries. Regardless of which field you take, you can reapply the science and math that is at the root of each degree.

    I am an engineer turned marketer turned engineer turned entrepreneur, and now philanthropy focused on bringing innovation into the nonprofit sector! That is far away from my systems engineering and machine learning education background. It is, however, one of the most significant decisions and disciplines I have pursued that allowed me to be at the cusp of so many emerging sectors that made me stand out and be in-demand in the market all while being creative in the process. Today I am one of the few single female inventors to have several patents and be a subject matter expert in my domain which can only open my next phase in my journey to so many possibilities! My father gave me great advice as I was deciding on my education and I would like to pass that on to you. He said, “no matter what you want to do, pick the hardest thing you can as it will teach you the skills to do anything in the future...it’s at this age you build on it so don’t waste it” – and he was right! It is not easy at times and will test your work ethic and the will to continue, but it’s completely worth it. Go engineer girl!

  • Patricia Eng , Self Employed: Speaker and Author
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 2:00 PM

    An engineering degree is a great stepping stone to many different careers. In today’s world it is important to understand how things work and what could impact their function. Knowing how to assess and analyze a problem is a key engineering skill which translates into many different fields, even those which are not technical. Most people do not have these skills and are less prepared to understand how something works and how various factors influence their function, let alone the analytical and problem-solving skills that engineers are so good at. I know people with engineering degrees that are doing very well in international law, finance, insurance, public policy, and strategic planning. In a world that is so dependent on technology, technical knowledge and engineering skills are a valuable asset in most any career.

  • Diana Manning , Base2 Solutions
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 1:52 PM

    The most important skill that engineering teaches you is a systematic approach to problem solving. Meaning, how to take a big problem and break it into smaller pieces that are easier to solve – then work through those to final answer. That skill comes in handy in any field. Also, you learn how to manage your time in engineering school and how to work in teams – also important skills. I know many people who graduated with engineering degrees that then moved on to be teachers, lawyers, doctors, Wall Street brokers, CEOs, astronauts – you name it. I bet if you were to talk to any of them, they would tell you that engineering helped them be successful.

  • Jodie Lutkenhaus , Texas A&M University
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 1:50 PM

    Yes! Chemical engineering is a great starting point for a non-engineering degree, actually! Many of my classmates went on to use their chemical engineering degree as a springboard for medical school, the financial sector, and law school. The chemical engineering degree prepares you in a unique way in that it teaches you materials and energy balances. Or simply put, chemical engineering teaches you the "Accounting" of "Matter": what comes in must come out. That basic concepts applies to many of these non-engineering sectors, and will give you the edge needed relative to others.

  • Hannah Noll , ATI
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 1:48 PM

    Of course it is possible to pursue other careers with an engineering degree! I know several people with engineering degrees that have moved on to other things: management, safety, even owning their own business. Having an engineering degree means that you have a high capacity for technical learning and can think critically and creatively to solve problems. Difficult problems exist in ALL fields all over the world, so the skills you learn by earning a degree in engineering can be applied to any of them.

  • Maria Marenco , Robert Bosch
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 1:44 PM

    Dear student,

    Your question is really important, especially in the current times. Nowadays the professions are much more malleable than they used to be. I myself find some situations where I ask the same question… and the answer for me is yes, you can always apply for something else! I have some arguments for it:

    • While studying to be an engineer, you learn how to observe complex problems, and make connections that are not obvious at first glance. For this continuously changing world, this ability is very important and can be used in many different working fields.
    • Another thing you learn is scientific thinking. You aim to describe every problem in an objective, quantifiable way. That prevents false assumptions, biased opinion to make a decision, or getting the wrong conclusion. Again, you can use that in so many aspects of business.
    • Engineers are trained as generalists. That means they can jump to a new field and don’t need a lot of training to understand the key things. That makes them very valuable.

    That said, I also have to say from my experience, people classify you in the “technical field.” That means that if you want to change to a different thing, you have to show why you’ll be good at it. But I believe it is norma,l and also even good, if you are challenged when you want to change. If you need to prove the reasons of your choice, you are confronted with this question and need to answer for yourself, which may be painful, but so rewarding the effort!

  • Danielle Forget Shield , SCC Americas
    Answered Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at 1:42 PM

    Hello – you can use your engineering degree to do anything! I started out as a design engineer because it seemed like the logical job to get after college. Since then I progressed to leading engineering for a large company, then jumping off into being an entrepreneur. Now I own a medical waste company and an ice cream business. You can do anything with your engineering degree.