Careers with an Engineering Degree

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One of the primary benefits of pursuing an engineering degree (other than out of personal or academic interest) is the skill set that's gained as a result.


As an undergraduate, you'll learn how to apply structured critical thought and quantitative analysis to solving practical problems. These skills are transferable to directly relevant careers, as well as careers that may not utilize the direct application of engineering principles whatsoever.


Undergraduate engineering programs are well known for having a strong focus on projects with direct relevance to the industry and offer practical experience through work placements. This work experience makes graduates highly employable immediately upon graduation.


The combination of gaining a thorough grounding in engineering principles and having many “soft” transferable skills such as the ability to solve problems using logic, and being able to communicate effectively, makes a degree in this field one of the most 'employable' degrees a student can earn.



Employable Skills You'll Learn

Skills will you gain that can be applied towards almost any career


Pursuing an engineering degree will teach you core skills that are highly employable across many different industries, and can be applied to many different professions. Because of this, employers are always interested in recruiting graduates of engineering programs, regardless of the industry the employer operates in.


These core skills can be applied both to careers in engineering, as well as careers that aren't directly relevant to this degree. Such skills include:


Effective communication: You'll be taught how to present your ideas in a confident and professional manner. This skill applies not only to communications within your future place of work; it applies to relations within the community as a whole.


Competence in application and practice: You'll learn how to properly utilize engineering techniques as well as relevant tools.


Interpersonal and team work skills: The ability to effectively function in an individual or group environment is a highly transferable employment skill that you'll have the chance to learn as a student. Through practical coursework, you'll not only learn how to function within a team, you'll learn how to lead a team.


Problem solving skills: Learning to identify problems and use logic and reasoning to identify solutions will be one of the biggest takeaways from your undergraduate years. You'll also learn how to use objectivity when approaching the implementation of these solutions.


Skills in engineering principles: One fundamental skill that you'll acquire is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge of engineering fundamentals. This is obviously a skill that uniquely taught to engineering students, and is uniquely applicable to careers in the field.


Understanding professional, social and ethical responsibilities: As a student, you'll gain an understanding of the social, ethical, environmental and professional responsibilities that come along with the work of an engineer. Once you become a Professional Engineers (P.E.), you must maintain a commitment to these responsibilities.


Lifelong learning: You'll be taught the importance of undertaking lifelong learning, and you must possess the motivation and ability to do so. You'll be taught to recognize the importance of independently acquiring new knowledge and skills for your personal life and your career. 





What Careers Are Relevant?

It’s pretty widely known in the community of students, including current, future and former, that an engineering degree is considered one of the most “employable”. But what does that mean exactly? What sort of jobs can you actually apply for?


If you're curious, or if you're an engineering student or grad and you're looking for a job, take a look at our "Job Board" below. It lists job openings in Canada and the United States that are directly and indirectly relevant to this degree.



Career Guides sorted by major


Civil Engineering

Computer Engineering

Electrical Engineering

Environmental Engineering

Industrial Engineering

Mechanical Engineering

Software Engineering






What Types of Companies Will Recruit Me?

Pursuing an engineering degree will provide you with a combination of in-field experience, and highly transferable 'soft skills'. Because of this, you will be among the most consistently and heavily recruited types of university graduates.


Your skills will be in demand with organizations that have a need to utilize the professional and technical abilities that only an engineering grad can offer, as well as organizations that seek to apply your skills in a different capacity.


The types of organizations that might try to recruit you will not always be engineering firms; and you won't necessarily have to pursue a career that's related to engineering, whether directly or indirectly.


The highly employable nature of this degree will enable you to select you employer based on a variety of possible criteria; such as the vision and mission of an organization; the leadership; the availability of advancement opportunities; as well as other criteria that may be important to you in an employer and in a career.


Although it may not seem like a natural fit to the untrained eye, you could also pursue careers in the field of sales, administration, consulting and management, among others.



Types of Employers that Might Hire You

The types of employers that could hire you upon graduation, in the general sense, are virtually unlimited. However, in a more specific sense, the area of engineering that you specialized in can be a limitation as to what type of employer you can choose to work for. For example, a software development company may not hire you if you're training is in civil engineering.


In a general, collective sense, you'll be able to choose a broad range of types of employers, including:


• Municipal, provincial/state and federal government agencies

• Small, medium and large-sized engineering firms

• Engineering consultancies

• Utility companies

• Transportation and logistics companies

• Vehicle, aircraft, spacecraft and munitions manufacturers  

• Construction and property development companies

• Mining, oil, gas and other resource-based companies

• Software development and distribution companies

• Non-profit organizations 

• Self-employment  

• Colleges and universities



Job Postings





How Come There are So Many Jobs I Can Apply For?

Basically, it comes down to the skills. Pursuing an education in this field enables you to learn many skills that easily transfer from one industry and career path to another. Skills such as critical thinking and quantitative analysis are highly marketable and always in demand with employers.


With the perennially high level of demand for engineering graduates, the largest problem you'll face when you get your degree, is what career path you'll choose from the multitude of options available to you.


To help solve this problem, we've created this careers guide, which contains everything you need to know about choosing your path.


We have detailed occupational information on hundreds of careers that are relevant to this degree, including both careers in engineering, as well as careers outside of the field. We’ve included job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other pertinent information related to these careers. Not enough? We’ve outlined undergraduate and graduate scholarships that you can apply for.




Salary You Could Earn as an Engineering Graduate

The salary you could earn largely depends on what career you pursue. For example, if you become a junior software engineer right out of school, your earnings may be different, for better or for worse, from what you would make if you choose to become a freelance toy designer immediately after graduation.


Other factors that determine how much you can earn include (not an inclusive list):


• Your level of education (such as if you went on to graduate studies)

• The industry in which you find work

• The amount of responsibility involved in your position

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• Other work experience you may have accrued

• Other skills you may have



Salary Figures

What is the salary level for engineering graduates?


It’s no secret that careers in engineering can be highly lucrative. Below is the average salaries reported by nearly 20,000 Ontario graduates in 2010, based on the Council of Ontario Universities' study of the 2008 graduating class. Unfortunately, no similar surveys were found for other Canadian provinces or the United States. Not all of the graduates who responded to the survey were engineering graduates or were working in engineering-related careers.


$60,548 - Engineering graduate average starting salary (1)



(1) Dehaas, Josh. “The most (and least) lucrative degrees in Ontario” MacLean’s On Campus, Web. November 10, 2011.







Which Career Path is Right for Me?

Determining and planning your career path is one of the most important projects you will undertake as an undergraduate student, and it begins on the first day. To begin the planning process, you must ask yourself the following questions:


• What are my personal and academic interests?

• What are my passions?

• What are my core values?


The next step is to make a list of possible career options suited to your answers, and suited to your major. To do this, speak with your professors, the career resources staff at your school, and any other mentors you can find. They can suggest career fields and professions that will suit your needs, ambitions and personal goals.


If any of the careers that your professors, counselors or mentors suggest to you sound appealing, whether they are directly related to engineering or not, you should then explore them further; try to learn as many details as possible: this will help you clarify your direction and help you narrow your focus.


Exploring what it’s like to work in those fields, as well as what you like and don’t like about those careers, will give you valuable insight into whether or not certain options are worth pursuing. This will really help you narrow your search, and ultimately help you find a career that is not only tailored to your skills and interests, but also to your needs and preferences.


Success Tip: To explore your career options in detail, try to land an internship or volunteer opportunity. Fortunately, engineering degree programs typically have a work-integrated learning field placement opportunity built into their curriculum requirements.  



Career Planning Timeline

Below we’ve outlined a specific timeline of actions that will help you effectively make the transition from an undergrad to a working professional. Remember, the more proactive you are with your career planning now, the more options you will have when you graduate.


First Year:


• Create a resume, and if it seems short don't be concerned, as most first year students won't have lengthy resumes at this point

• Introduce yourself to the Career Resource/Service staff at your school

• Learn about yourself, your interests, and skills by utilizing online and printed resources (ask you Career Resource/Services staff)

• Choose your area of academic focus (your major) by identifying those that relate to your interests and abilities

• Identify and pursue summer work and volunteer experiences that align with your major

• Ensure to maintain a strong GPA, as many employers will exclude students and recent graduates with low GPA's from internships and job opportunities

• Purchase a suit or an outfit that you can wear for interviews throughout the duration of your university career


Second Year:


• Update your resume with any engineering-related career experience you've obtained

• Join an on-campus engineering organization; this will help you network and develop interpersonal and communication skills

• Take several online career assessments

• Attend career exploration workshops, job fairs and other career related events

• Identify and contact professionals working in your field of interest to conduct an informal interview, they will give you great first hand information regarding a day in the life of an engineer

• Research any available job shadowing or volunteer opportunities

• Plan early for summer work opportunities or internships


Third Year:


• Pursue leadership opportunities in engineering and other professional student organizations

• Update your resume to include all relevant work experience you've obtained during your second year and your summer

• Prepare for internship interviews by attending interview workshops

• Attend engineering and general career fairs to research internships and future job opportunities

• Research graduate degree programs, and the schools that offer them

• Attend career fairs to make contact with program representatives

• Finalize summer experience/internship plans


Fourth Year:


• Seek and attend employment skill-building workshops

• Finalize your resume and cover letters to reflect all of the work experience you have gained, as well as your education

• Sign up for mock interviews with your Career Resources/Services staff

• Attend career fairs in the geographical location you plan to live (if possible)

• Apply to graduate-level engineering programs if you plan on attending

• Research potential employers and job possibilities

• Pursue any networking contacts through friends, family, clubs, professors, etc.

• If you have had successful co-op or internship experiences, you may already have one or more full-time job offers from employers with whom you have already worked




What you can do with an engineering degree



Engineering Scholarships

Our All Scholarships Sorted by Major page has plenty of scholarships you can apply for that are related to engineering, as well as scholarships that are open to any field of study.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you are even only barely qualified for. Millions of dollars worth of scholarships in Canada and the United States go unused every year as a result of there being too few applicants!


Find Scholarships



Success Tip: Visit Career Fairs

Visiting general, or engineering-specific, career fairs is one of the best things you can do to learn about your future employment options. It's also a great way to network with potential employers, as well as gain information on specific opportunities. 



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