7 Tips to Advance Your Engineering Career

A civil engineer is busy on his project on a laptop
  • Author: Mohsin Khan
  • Posted On: November 1, 2022
  • Updated On: July 11, 2023

Regardless of the engineer’s experience level—whether new and entry-level or an experienced senior professional—the phase of poor career progress can occur at any time. There can be several reasons for this. For example, feeling stuck in a dead-end job, working where there is not much room for growth, or even working with slackers and freeloaders can explain little to no career growth.

So, we have outlined seven things engineers can do to take stock and accelerate or jump-start their professional advancement when the doldrums hit.

Tip # 1: Define your career goals.

Great engineering careers do not just happen by chance. Set aside time at least twice a year, if not once every quarter, and think about where you want your career to go in the long term. With no career roadmap to guide you, there is no way you can tell if you have taken a wrong turn in your career, making it impossible for you to achieve future milestones.

Tip # 2: Get an advanced degree or license.

Pursuing a higher education degree or certification is another way to advance your engineering career. These can include typical university degrees like a Master’s or doctorate or even professional engineering licenses.

However, an online masters in engineering is more flexible, more affordable, and allows you to keep your day job while acquiring new skills or learning the latest practices and strategies. In addition, an online Master’s degree on your CV shows your employers how ambitious you are and how well you can juggle multiple priorities and challenges.

Tip # 3: Develop your soft skills.

Workplace conflict is more likely to occur when you have coworkers with different career trajectories from your own or who have worked in the field longer than you have. To advance in the engineering field, you must know how to handle friction with coworkers and avoid conflict. And for that, you will need to hone in on two essential soft skills.

1. Communication Skills

You will need to communicate with people at various levels in your career. Peers on your team, junior engineers as you advance in rank, people in senior positions to you, clients who are not engineers, engineers who work for your organization’s clients, and more. Therefore, it is crucial to improve your communication skills.

Effective communicators

  • Express themselves clearly and completely;
  • Listen well and without interrupting;
  • Pay attention to their and the other person’s body language, tone of voice, eye contact, posture, and facial expressions;
  • Identify emotional situations, and keep their emotions in check; and
  • Are succinct when asking a question.

2. Collaboration Skills

During the pandemic, many of us had to rediscover the value of working together. It is true that teams quickly adjusted and came up with inventive ways to stay connected, coordinated, and engaged without face-to-face interactions. But given that remote and hybrid work settings are here to stay, you might require additional skills to be a top-notch team player at work.

Great collaborators

  • Routinely offer empathy and compassion to their superiors, peers, and subordinates alike;
  • Listen without judgment;
  • Always repeat or summarize what was said to make sure everyone is on the same page;
  • Recognize when someone else has a much stronger idea than their own, stand by it, give credit where it is due; and
  • Never shy away from asking people for their advice or using their know-how to help others.

Tip # 4: Experiment outside the workplace.

Depending on the area of engineering you are interested in, take up a freelance project. Paid or unpaid does not matter. For example, in a job interview, a person can show off a project or prototype they completed at home in their own time.

Additionally, it demonstrates your humility and desire to learn, grow, and improve yourself when you take a prospective employer through the problems your product seeks to identify and solve. You also ask for their feedback on how they might have done things differently. It makes for a good discussion starter and allows engineers to show off what they can do.

Tip # 5: Use social media to share your expertise.

Build a strong presence on social media platforms. As an engineer, you do not necessarily have to be a thought leader in the industry. But social media is a quicker and easier way you demonstrate your technical knowledge.

Plus, it is simple for potential employers or collaborators to find and reach out to you through social networking sites like LinkedIn, etc. Social media assists in filling in the gaps that may not show on a CV. When you are noticeable and stand out from others, your job role moves up.

Tip # 6: Level up your business knowledge.

The individuals who decide which projects you will work on almost certainly do it from a business standpoint. Therefore, they are less concerned with your creative approach to fixing their problem and more concerned about the return on their investment. Of course, you do not have to learn how to run a firm, but it does help if you know how decision-makers function.

When the chance presents itself, it can be beneficial to collaborate with various business teams that are not engineers. You will gain a deeper understanding of the many needs and viewpoints of the business thanks to this experience. Additionally, it will make it easier for other employees to comprehend the viewpoints of engineers.

Tip # 7: Find a mentor

Seek out individuals with extensive industry knowledge and take one as your career coach. This person could be, for instance, the top engineer in your team or a start-up’s chief technical officer (CTO) you met at an event. Mentors will advise you based on their experiences and help you set actionable goals.

They are typically more eager to challenge an individual and push them further than they might push themselves. They also offer a different viewpoint as a third party, which can assist an engineer in starting to view their profession or a problem differently. The result of this is, hopefully, to help inspire you to think outside the box and be more successful in the long run.

Bottom Line

With lots of technical advances happening daily, engineering is growing fast. As the industry moves quickly, you must remain open-minded about where your career takes you.

Commit yourself to continuous professional development. Be on the lookout for new projects and opportunities. Do not be afraid to step up, take charge, and perform tasks others won’t. Remember, a successful person stays hungry for knowledge and remains grounded.

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Author: Mohsin Khan

Mohsin has worked as one of the experienced editors with ConstructionHow since 2020 with a total span of 5 years of experience in business PR, boasting a remarkable professional trajectory, he has collaborated with entrepreneurs and startups, and certain publications over the last few years. His unwavering interest lies in the construction industry and related materials. He believes in creating functional and aesthetically pleasing buildings, and homes that fall under the right budget. With a wide range of experience in construction, he also tapped into DIY and home improvement projects based on his extensive set of knowledge in the industry.