Before diving into your studies to become an engineer, it’s important to know what lies ahead of you, and what you can expect. Becoming an engineer is a potentially exciting, rewarding and lucrative experience, and it’s essential to be prepared along the way. Use this guide to learn how to become an engineer, including schooling, requirements, licenses and more along the way.
The first step to becoming an engineer is enrolling in a bachelors-level engineering program at a university. Like all bachelors programs, these are four year undergraduate degrees, and include classes on a variety of subjects. The bulk of your generic courses should focus on areas such as the sciences, computers or technology, and mathematics. From there, you will likely be majoring in an individual specialty within engineering.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recognizes over 17 different specialties for engineering, and in truth, there are many others. But when choosing your studies, you’ll be able to major in anything from agricultural engineering or mechanical engineering to nuclear engineering or biomedical engineering, to name a few. It’s important to note that not every school is going to have an engineering major across all specialties. So you’ll have to do your research beforehand if you already know where you want to focus.
It’s also worth noting that there are many excellent engineering programs available online these days. Online engineering programs offer the convenience and flexibility of studying on your schedule, and from home, and many of these also offer accelerated learning options to help you complete a degree in as little as half of the traditionally required time.
For many engineering positions, the bachelors degree can be the final stop of your educational journey. However, some fields, and certain positions within some industries, will require postgraduate degrees and further studies. Once again, it will be important to look into your chosen specialty to gain specific information and insight into what you need. Obviously the educational needs for someone pursuing research and development will be different from an in-the-field civil engineer, for instance.
Either way, if you’re an engineer providing services to the public, you’ll need to become a certified professional engineer, or PE. Licensure is obtained by first passing an examination, called the Fundamentals of Engineering examination. Passing this makes you an EIT, engineer in training, or EI, engineering intern.
From there, you will have to gain up to four years of work experience before taking a second and final examination, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering. Continued studying and learning credits are sometimes required on an ongoing basis for professionals, depending on where you live and what your specialty is.
Hopefully by now you have a much better idea about what to expect on your path towards becoming an engineer. Every engineering specialty likely includes its own special twist on the path, but the information above is the blueprint needed for just about everything. With the right skills, mindset and focus, you can complete your education, training and licensing and obtain the career of your dreams with engineering.