A Complete Guide to Becoming an Engineer 

Steps to Become an Engineer 
Source: https://interestingengineering.com/culture/how-to-become-an-engineer-a-complete-guide-to-the-first-year-of-engineering-and-beyond

Engineers are professionals who provide pathways to innovation. They help with problem-solving and also shaping the world around us.

Most times, they design cutting-edge technology, construct intricate infrastructure, and work in the field of sustainable energy. It is indeed a field with vast opportunities.

This guide will assist aspiring engineers, including those seeking to pursue careers in very lucrative fields. You will see the steps you need to take to make it a reality.

We’ll also talk about the different types of engineering, including their average annual salary.

Let’s get started.

What is Engineering?

According to Oxford Dictionary, it is a branch of Science and Technology that deals with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures.

Likewise, according to Wikipedia, Engineering involves utilizing scientific, mathematical, and applied knowledge to ideate, plan, construct, and sustain structures, mechanisms, systems, and methodologies.

It spans diverse fields and utilizes problem-solving approaches to address intricate problems, translating abstract theories into real-world advancements that enhance communities.

Engineering has been in existence since the beginning of time, when people invented tools like the wedge, lever, wheel, and pulley.

Now, let’s find out who an engineer is.

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Who is an Engineer?

When you meet a little kid and ask them what they want to become, they will say “An engineer.”

Let’s define who an Engineer is. Engineers apply math and science to solve problems and take advantage of discoveries.

While engineers do not often make scientific breakthroughs, they do extract knowledge from them and use it in practical ways. They seek valuable innovations that improve how people utilize items or complete jobs.

Engineers can work on everything from large architectural structures to sophisticated maps of the human genome.

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What Types of Engineers are There?

The major types of Engineers are:

1. Mechanical Engineers: 

These are those that are primarily concerned with designing and developing mechanical systems and machinery.

They work with machinery that includes electric generators, elevators, gas turbines, heating and cooling systems, machine tools, and robots. Some focus on manufacturing industry equipment, while others specialize in construction or farm machinery.

This is a fairly broad field that covers working with almost any type of machine, assessing and enhancing its performance.

Their national annual salary is $87,503 on average.

2. Civil Engineers: 

They design airports, bridges, dams, roads, tunnels, and other types of infrastructure for cities or bigger jurisdictions. They may also design water and sewage systems.

Additionally, they examine a community’s needs and make plans to serve its residents, protect them from disasters, and increase the operation and efficiency of the city or town.

Their national annual salary is $85,806 on average.

3. Electrical Engineers: 

They deal with electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. They are in charge of everything about power generation, circuitry, and communication systems.

In other forms, they work with several forms of electrical equipment, such as wiring, lighting, motors, and controllers. They may also be involved in navigation systems, power generation, transmission devices, and communication technology.

Furthermore, they concentrate on the effective transmission and utilization of power, as well as the enhancement of electrical system efficiency.

Their national annual salary is $92,738 on average.

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4. Computer Engineers: 

These blend computer science with electrical engineering.

They work with computer software, hardware, networks, routers, printers, and other associated devices.

Additionally, they are always designing and developing new computer-based products and solutions to stay up with today’s quickly changing technological field.

They may develop both hardware and software to improve existing computer systems.

Their national annual salary is $80,992 on average.

5. Chemical Engineers: 

They apply chemistry and engineering principles to design and operate processes for manufacturing chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and materials.

Furthermore, they evaluate the chemicals used in food, clothes, medicine, and other applications. They investigate qualities such as oxidation and combustibility to discover the most suitable applications for certain chemicals.

Additionally, they also strive to create novel chemical products for various purposes. They also research and build methods for producing, modifying, or refining chemicals. For example, breweries need chemical engineers to develop novel beverages.

Their national annual salary is $93,647 on average.

6. Biomedical Engineers: 

They integrate engineering principles with biological and medical sciences to create technologies and devices for healthcare.

These people work in healthcare to design systems, devices, and equipment for patient diagnosis, treatment, and care.

They collaborate closely with other healthcare professionals, such as nurses, doctors, and researchers, to examine the existing state of the healthcare system and offer beneficial remedies. For example, they could create machines to aid in medical procedures or innovative techniques to heal patients.

Their national annual salary is $93,647 on average.

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7. Aeronautical Engineers:

Usually, they work on aircraft, spacecraft, and ground vehicles to increase aerodynamic performance. They evaluate the design, controls, structure, and functionality of this equipment and attempt to improve the existing systems.

However, they may also specialize in communications, navigation, propulsion, or other aspects of aircraft design.

Their national annual salary is $101,447 on average.

8. Marine Engineers:

These people work on different types of watercraft, such as boats, ships, and tankers. They concentrate on underwater propulsion, steering, building, and design to ensure marine watercraft perform to their full potential.

Additionally, they concentrate on creating better ways to produce and maintain marine equipment for maximum performance.

Their national annual salary is $87,319 on average.

9. Mining Engineers:

These people build systems for locating and extracting metals, minerals, and coal. They look for environmentally friendly and economically viable solutions to acquire these resources most efficiently.

They also improve mining safety protocols to keep other employees safe while operating tools and extracting resources.

Their national annual salary is $94,997 on average.

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10. Industrial Engineers:

They analyze the machinery, materials, energy, labor, and processes used to manufacture a product or provide a service.

They also create new ways and systems to improve efficiency and reduce waste. This enables firms to operate more efficiently in their chosen fields.

Their national annual salary is $80,876 on average.

11. Nuclear Engineers:

These people work on the systems and equipment that generate and consume nuclear energy. They evaluate and enhance the procedures and instruments associated with radiation and nuclear technology.

They may focus on nuclear power generation, the usage of radioactive materials, or the development of fusion energy.

Their national annual salary is $93,647 on average.

12. Petroleum Engineers:

They work to extract gas and oil from the soil. They collaborate closely with geologists to establish the most effective drilling methods for safety and efficiency.

Importantly, they work to improve technology and methods for recovering oil and gas resources.

Their national annual salary is $127,049 on average.

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13. Environmental Engineers:

They are concerned with air, water, and land pollution, as well as how individuals and businesses can reduce their environmental impact. They assess the causes and consequences of pollution and create mechanisms for rehabilitating impacted areas.

These professionals strive to control pollution by municipal, state, and federal regulations.

Their national annual salary is $88,785 on average.

14. Materials Engineers:

They work with raw materials that are utilized to manufacture a wide range of consumable items. They can utilize plastics, composites, metals, ceramics, and other materials to make or improve products.

Furthermore, they evaluate the strength, stability, and other features of these materials to develop new applications for them or to decide the best material to utilize when improving an existing product.

Some of these professionals develop novel materials, such as alloys, polymers, and ceramics, to improve existing systems.

Their national annual salary is $90,568 on average.

15. Structural Engineers:

These professionals design and enhance buildings to survive the natural environment in which they exist. This can include creating new buildings to withstand coastal erosion or modifying an existing structure to boost its human safety capability.

Importantly, their major task is to design structures that will last longer.

Their national annual salary is $93,647 on average.

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Steps to Become an Engineer

1. High School Preparation

Successful engineers often begin their journey by excelling in science and mathematics during high school. Courses in physics, chemistry, calculus, and computer science lay a strong foundation for future engineering studies.

2. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field is a common starting point. Most programs cover a broad spectrum of engineering fundamentals in the initial years, allowing students to explore various disciplines before specializing.

3. Choosing a Specialization

Selecting the right engineering discipline is a crucial initial step. It involves understanding personal interests, skills, and aspirations while considering the diverse fields of engineering.

Conducting thorough research into each specialization, exploring career prospects, and assessing personal preferences and aptitudes can aid in making an informed decision.

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4. Acquire Advanced Degrees (Optional)

Pursuing a master’s or doctorate in engineering can offer opportunities for specialized knowledge, research experience, and advancement in certain career paths.

These advanced degrees may be particularly beneficial for those interested in academia or specialized engineering roles.

5. Gain Practical Experience

Securing internships, co-op programs, or entry-level positions during academic pursuits is invaluable. Practical experience allows aspiring engineers to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world scenarios, hone technical skills, and gain exposure to industry practices.

Internships also provide networking opportunities and often lead to future job offers.

6. Get Relevant Certifications or Licenses

Certain engineering disciplines may require professional certifications or licenses to practice. For instance, in the United States, engineers may need to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam as a step towards becoming a licensed Professional Engineer (PE).

These credentials demonstrate competence, adherence to ethical standards, and commitment to the profession.

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Average Salary for Engineers

The average annual income for an engineer is $85,720. This is not the same in all industries and locations. For instance, the average pay for industrial engineers is $73,922, while aeronautical engineers earn $98,310.

Experience also has an impact on the amount an engineer earns. Those with a longer tenure and more established competence tend to earn more.

Skills for Engineers

Engineers must possess several crucial skills that enable them to generate innovative ideas that will help them thrive and progress in their careers.

1. Creativity

They have creative imaginations, which allows them to come up with new constructs and techniques.

2. Communication

They are accountable for clearly explaining their ideas to their team members. They may do so orally, graphically, or in writing.

3. Attention to detail

Small details can make a significant difference in engineering. They have a sharp eye for even the smallest details of a project.

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4. Self-discipline

Engineering is a demanding profession that always brings new issues to tackle. Engineers have the self-discipline to work hard on each job until it is finished.

5. Technical skills

Although an engineer’s technical and scientific abilities vary by specialty, they all have good technical skills.

6. Problem-solving

One of their key responsibilities in all disciplines is to solve problems using their knowledge and skills. So problem-solving, particularly in unusual settings, is a valuable skill for them to have.

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How can I become a complete engineer?

Obtain a bachelor’s degree in this field from an institution certified by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Pass the fundamentals of engineering (FE) test. Complete a minimum of four years of experience. Pass the Principles and Practices of Engineering (PE) exam.

How do I know if I want to be an engineer?

If you like to dig deeper and understand how things work, how they’re made or how to make them better, that’s a good indicator that engineering may be a good fit for you.

Is it hard to be an engineer?

It can be very difficult because you’re essentially becoming a “professional problem solver”. This is not a bad thing at all as it is not only an exceptionally hard degree but a very well-sought-after one too.

Which year of engineering is hardest?

The answer is honestly very simple. The first year after obtaining your degree. Now you will be competing against everyone who got the degree at the same time as you, and people who have ALL the experience, but slightly older degrees. Getting your first job, and keeping it is the Hardest part.

What is an engineer good at?

They apply scientific principles to analyze, design, invent, code, build, and create to solve all sorts of problems and make the world a better place. One of their most important tools is their own creativity.


Engineering is not solely about solving equations or designing structures. It is also about applying creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration to solve real-world problems and drive technological advancements.

Since you now know the steps to take, embark on this journey with an open mind, a willingness to learn, and a determination to make a difference in the world through engineering.



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