Six Ways to Move Forward in Your Engineering Career
There are times over the course of every engineer’s career where it can feel like the rate of moving forward has slowed right down to a crawl, or even worse – has come to a standstill. This period of slow career growth can strike at any time, whether you’re at the entry-level or are a seasoned career professional. And, there are many different causes for stagnation in an engineering career, whether it’s being stuck in a rut on report duty, working at a company that offers limited upward mobility and promotion opportunities, feeling like you are no longer learning anything new or simply lacking the motivation needed to drive your career forward.
Thankfully, when this situation arrives, engineers are in the perfect position to take matters into their own hands and do something about moving their career forward. Here are some of our top suggestions.
#1. Take Some Time to Devise a Career Plan:
Engineers are often known for being logical, meticulous people who rarely let any technical details slip through the net. So, it may come as a surprise to learn that many engineers aren’t sitting down and putting together a proper game plan for their career. If the most career planning you have done is in response to your boss’ question of ‘where you do see yourself in five years?’, then it’s time to put some more thought into a long-term strategy.
A critical step to any successful engineering career is to put aside some time at least twice a year – or even quarterly – to reflect on where you have gotten so far and determine if your career is going in the right direction – if not, where would you like it to go? Once you are fully equipped with a greater understanding of your direction, it becomes easier to define all the stops along the way.
#2. Get to Work on Your Resume:
Have you gotten to a point in your engineering career where you feel that your current employer simply doesn’t have any more to offer you? A job position where there are little opportunities for moving forward and you feel that you are no longer able to grow in your career there can be one of the biggest reasons for you feeling like you’re slowing down or at a standstill.
Changing jobs periodically is one of the best ways to move up the career ladder, along with being an ideal way of finding a company and position that feels like a good fit for you. But in order to make these jobs between positions it’s important that you take the time to build a shining resume that gets the attention you need from potential employers. You can find several engineer resume templates and examples online to work with but remember that the most important factor is to demonstrate what you can do rather than just list it.
#3. Improve Your Skills With Trade Tools:
No matter which area of engineering you are working in, mastering the tools of the trade is a sure way to accelerate your career. This could include learning the various relevant qualifications used by the industry or developing a deeper understanding of hardware tools such as logic analyzers, oscilloscopes, debuggers and more.
Mastering these tools of the trade can take time and is usually achieved through a combination of reading industry literature and on-the-job use and experimentation. If you have a chance to learn a new tool of the trade, taking it may be just what your career needs to move up a level.
#4. Advance Your Education:
One of the best ways to get out of the rut that your engineering career has ended up in is by advancing your education. Getting a master’s degree or taking a relevant industry qualification is easier than ever today, thanks to the growing popularity of online learning which allows busy full-time workers to easily balance working and studying to fit getting a new qualification around their career. And, there are several options to choose from – if you only have a bachelor’s degree you may want to study for a masters that specializes in your chosen area of engineering.
But, don’t stop there – there are endless choices, so do your research to find a study program that would be a good fit for you, and above all, is in something that interests you. For example, if you are working in manufacturing engineering, you might want to consider studying for an online MS in lean manufacturing to add an additional skill and level of knowledge to your work.
#5. Step Up to the Plate:
A sure way to get your career out of a standstill and even better, get noticed by your employers and others, is to step up and take on the tasks that nobody else wants to do. When your boss is asking for somebody to volunteer to do something that nobody else wants to take on, stepping up and agreeing to do the work can help set you apart from the crowd as an individual.
And, what’s even better is that by building a good reputation for yourself by taking on any job that is offered, you can put yourself in the position of the ‘go-to’ engineer when something needs to be done. And when it comes to the time when pay rises and promotions are on offer, it is this type of engineer who is going to stand out the most and be at the top of the list.
#6. Never Allow Yourself to Be Satisfied:
Getting comfortable in a job can be one of the biggest traps to a stagnating career that feels like it’s no longer moving forward. So, no matter how much you learn or how many subjects you become an expert in, never forget that there is always so much more to learn.
The best engineers are constantly challenging themselves to learn more, develop new skills, and ultimately move forward in their careers. Whether you do this by earning a new degree, learning new tools of the trade or putting yourself forward for extra work, career progression needs to be propelled by you.