So you’ve been reading about engineering and it sounds waaaaay cooler than you originally thought, but you still have a bazillion questions buzzing around in your brain. We’ve asked real girls what THEIR questions about engineering are – read on to find out all the engineering deets you never knew you needed!
What does an engineer’s normal day look like? Some jobs seem all great and dandy but I want to know more specifics about a career I’m considering!
There is no “normal” for engineers – each job is as different as you and I! Your typical day will depend on the type of engineering you major in (i.e. Mechanical, Aerospace, Civil), as well as the company you apply to work for.
Some engineers work in office buildings, while others work in labs or industrial plants. Others go into sales or management jobs. Some work outdoors or in production and construction sites. Certain jobs also allow engineers to travel all over the world.
This being said, there are some common themes to engineering jobs:
- They usually run on a 40-hour workweek (workin’ 9 to 5)
- They often involve lots of teamwork and problem solving
- Engineers are always working to improve current systems
- Beginner engineers usually work under the supervision of more experienced engineers – so don’t worry, you’re not immediately expected to know everything!
- Once you gain more experience and knowledge, you’ll be assigned to more complicated, interesting projects where you’ll work to design, solve problems and make decisions.
Luckily, a degree in engineering leads to a TON of different pathways, meaning that you have lots of opportunities to choose a “day in the life” that fits you.
For more info, check out our interviews with University Students and Professional Engineers
How long does it take to become an engineer?
It takes only four years to graduate from a Bachelor of Applied Science or Engineering degree, which allows you to start doing engineering work right away as an “Engineering Graduate”! After you complete your degree, you apply to work under a licensed professional engineer, usually between 2 - 4 years – this helps you to continue improving your skills while still making a salary. After that, you take a test that allows you to officially call yourself a Professional Engineer for life!
Can I quickly and easily get a job in engineering immediately after graduating university?
You’ve probably heard people talking about the recession and how it’s harder for young people to get jobs nowadays. Luckily, job prospects in engineering are MUCH better than most, particularly if you’re open to moving within Canada!
What is an engineer’s favourite thing is about their job?”
To find out what engineers love about their jobs, check out our interviews with Professional Engineers!
How does Co-op work? What companies can I work for and what kind of job I can get after university using the co-op experience?”
A few schools have Co-ops (cooperative education) and Internship programs, including Ryerson, Waterloo, UOIT and Western. During Co-op, your school matches you up with a company that lets you use what you’re learning in school in a real-world situation.
Students often credit co-op with giving them hands-on work experience and allowing them to network with professionals, which can sometimes allow them to find a job more easily after they finish their degree. Remember - even if your school doesn’t offer co-op, you can still apply to be a Summer Intern at many different companies!
Is the engineering business very straight edged or is there room to get creative and innovative when on the job?
Depends on which company you’re working for! The beautiful thing about an engineering degree is that it can lead you down many different paths. If creativity is your strong suit, you can specifically search for a company that is known for its innovation, or you could even become your own boss! While some companies offer jobs that are more “straight-edged,” engineering always involves thinking outside the box and solving problems, which always keep the job interesting.
Is most of your time spent answering and solving formulas and equations or actually building things?”
While there are some technical fields of engineering that involve hands-on building, it’s actually a common misconception that engineers build things. The majority of engineers are thinkers – they use their understanding of math and science to design things before they get built.
What kind of things will I be studying in generally in engineering?
While each stream of engineering focuses on different areas, there are a few skills that you learn in engineering school in any major:
- Problem solving
- Sciences (areas of focus depend on your major!)
- Basic business skills
- Communication skills (public speaking, resume building, presentation skills etc.)
- Computer skills
I would like to know what specific duties an engineer has, because I actually don’t really know what an engineer is.
Every engineering job is different, but many have common themes:
- Researching current systems to figuring out how to make them better
- Applying science skills to design new solutions
- Communicating ideas and solutions to others
- Using computers and technology to help execute your ideas
Job descriptions usually sound SUUUPER overwhelming, but remember: you’ll learn all of these skills (and more!) when you’re in university. If you like problem solving, are creative and are good at math/science, you’ll be a great fit!
For more detailed descriptions of a engineer’s job, check out our interviews with Professional Engineers
How much does the average engineer get paid per month compared to the cost of the schooling to get there?”
Seven out of ten of the top-paid 2013 Bachelor’s degree majors were in engineering (i.e. get money, get paid). In fact, the average starting salary for an engineering graduate is over $60,000! In some areas of engineering, recent graduates make more than $90,000… wild!
Yearly university tuition for an undergraduate engineering student is around $12,000, making your full degree $48,000 – less than one year’s pay as an engineer!
Is engineering a career where you can have fun while working or is it just hard work all the time?”
Like most jobs, engineering can be hard work, but most engineers will tell you that they love their job because it’s super interesting! If you want a job that exercises your brain and lets you keep learning, engineering is an amazing option. If you want to know more about how fun jobs in engineering can be, check out our interviews with Professional Engineers.
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