From recent electrical engineering graduates to professionals who have been in the industry for several years, it’s never too late to improve your career prospects. Engineers are known for their knowledge in science, math, problem-solving and, of course, their practical skills, but this is not the whole story. Engineers who succeed at the highest level in the industry have a diverse range of skills and knowledge, including people management. If you’re looking to advance your career in electrical engineering, it’s essential to have a strategy in place from the outset. To get you started, here are 11 ways to advance an electrical engineering career.
- Develop your skill set
Your core expertise and knowledge may be in electrical engineering, but have you considered diversifying your skills by studying a new discipline? Modern production systems and products often require a combination of different engineering fields, including mechanics and electronics. Take some time to research new topics and, if possible, get some experience with the latest technology. Doing so will provide you with a broader skill set so that you can manage projects in their entirety.
- Collaborate with other disciplines
Because modern production methods usually require the input of several different design and manufacturing disciplines, you will need to become used to collaborating and communicating with others in those fields. A collaborative process requires excellent communication and the ability to convey electrical engineering concepts in terms others can understand. When promoted to a more senior role, you may also need to present to non-engineers such as customers or investors.
- Solve problems through innovation
What sets an engineering company apart from its competitors? The ability to create, innovate, and lead the market into new ways of working. This is why you and everyone in your team should be pursuing excellence through new technologies and ideas continuously. If you can see a way to make a process more efficient or a product more effective, share it, and support others when they do the same. Doing so will show both colleagues and managers that you are a team player and have the ability to lead innovation.
- Continue to learn
The engineering industry is evolving with every new technology, theory, and tool which is developed. To ensure your knowledge and skills remain relevant, you should be seeking out additional training, education, and projects as often as possible. Consider taking your electrical engineering knowledge and skills to the next level by acquiring a master’s degree or a Ph.D. through online study. This method of study enables you to continue to work while you complete the course in your own time from home. Some companies will fund further training or education, so it may be worth asking your employer. Even if there is no funding, you will be bringing your desire to learn and your ambition to progress to their attention. You can learn more about Michigan Tech’s online electrical engineering degree now.
- Improve your business skills
To advance to the most senior level in an engineering company, you should also be making the effort to learn about the commercial aspects of the business. Engineers with a sound understanding of what makes a business succeed are far more valuable when it comes to managing projects. You need to develop an understanding of finances, planning, strategy, and cost management. If you know how to maximize profits, you will be a much more attractive candidate for a company.
- Improve your people skills
Your people skills are also referred to as ‘soft skills,’ but in simple terms, it refers to how you can manage your relationships with others. From your manager to your colleague to your customers or suppliers, you need to be able to communicate verbally and in writing, to manage people, negotiate, motivate, and resolve complaints or conflict.
- Build relationships through networking
Networking is as relevant to the engineering industry as any other and will support your career progression. By building relationships and making connections with like-minded professionals and influencers, you will establish an invaluable network. Try to build a positive reputation amongst your peers as someone who is knowledgeable, professional, and a good team player.
- Get involved in the engineering community
There are several ways to get involved in the engineering community and build your reputation. For example, it’s a good idea to attend engineering trade shows, conferences, and events. Doing so will not only keep you up to date with the latest industry developments but also provides excellent networking opportunities with others in the industry. You could also subscribe to industry publications and online forums where you can engage other professionals in conversation and strengthen your position as an industry expert.
- Join engineering societies
To solidify your presence in the industry, consider becoming a member of an engineering association or society. There are several societies which are local, state-wide or national, and several are dedicated to specific fields of engineering. However, you may find more general engineering societies provide a wider range of networking opportunities and will help you to expand your knowledge. When you are a member, try to be as active as possible by offering to help with the organization of events or administrative roles.
- Boost your profile
There are several industry publications such as PE Magazine, the National Society of Professional Engineers’ flagship publication. You may be able to contribute an article or add your opinion to a feature which would help to boost your profile in the industry. Alternatively, it’s very easy to create your own website where you can post your own articles, opinions, and features. Social media networking can be a great way to not only make connections but also as a platform to promote the content you add to the website.
- Volunteer your time
Volunteering your expertise and time to help a good cause can also be a great way to use your experience to the benefit of the community. Your electrical engineering skills could be invaluable to a charity such as Habitat for Humanity, or you could mentor a young person from a disadvantaged background who has an interest in engineering. Using your skills in your community will make a positive impact in the world, widen your network and could even result in PR opportunities with local media.