Engineering is a subject that is extensive and varied, and there are many different types of engineering available to study, meaning that choosing the one that is a good fit for you isn’t always easy. To make the decision easier on yourself, it’s a good idea to consider what you are the most passionate about, whether that’s in work or in your personal time.
Thinking about where you’d choose to spend your spare time and what tends to get you excited can help make it easier for you to figure out which engineering discipline could be the best option for you. Every engineering discipline will usually involve problem-solving, along with focusing on coming up with solutions that are designed to make life easier for people. However, this can look very different depending on the specific engineering discipline that you work in, so it’s important to think about which engineering solutions tend to excite you the most.
When deciding on your area of specialty as a future engineer, it’s important to choose a subject that you are interested in learning more about since this will help you throughout your degree to stay motivated and focused with little risk of losing interest. To help you determine the right one for you, let’s look at some popular disciplines for engineers and tips on choosing the right one.
How to Choose the Right Engineering Discipline
Before getting into the different disciplines that are available in the field of engineering, it’s worth considering the most important factors to keep in mind when deciding which one might be worth pursuing. Before you make a firm decision on what kind of engineering you want to do, spend some time considering the following:
The Career Outlook
While it’s important to choose a discipline that you are interested in personally, it’s worth bearing in mind that some engineering sectors are much more lucrative than others in terms of the career outlook. Spend some time researching what the future might hold for the engineering disciplines that you are interested in, paying particular attention to the future growth outlook, demand, and salaries.
Your Top Skills
While skills in math, technology, and science tend to be a prerequisite for the majority of engineering disciplines, it’s worth spending some time thinking about any skills that you have that might help you get further in a particular engineering sector. For example, computer engineering might be a natural choice for you if you are highly computer literate or already have IT qualifications, while engineering management may be a better option for somebody who is a people person and natural leader. If you are always working with your hands and love building things, civil engineering may be an obvious choice for you, while electronics engineering could be your ideal career path if you already know how to fix electronic devices and how all the inner parts work.
Your Main Interests
Of course, just because you are skilled at something, does not always mean that you are interested enough in it to do it every day for your future career. It’s a good idea to consider what you are interested in the most, too, and see how this matches up with your skills. There is nothing wrong with choosing a certain engineering sector simply because you have a keen interest in what it involves. Maybe you are very interested in airplanes even if you wouldn’t know where to start with how one works – an aeronautical engineering program will help you satisfy your interests and learn more.
Speak to Current Engineers
If you are still not sure which discipline might be best for you, you may want to attend some networking events or go online to speak to current engineers who are working in different sectors to get their take on their job. This can give you an idea of what the day-to-day work is like for engineers working in different disciplines, making it easier for you to figure out which one might be most suited to you.
Get Some Work Experience
Work placements, internships, and spending time shadowing engineers at work in a range of different disciplines can give you an insight into the typical role and duties that are involved with working in the different engineering fields. Along with this, getting work experience or completing an internship can also strengthen your engineering resume and improve your opportunities for finding full-time work once you have graduated with an engineering degree.
Popular Engineering Disciplines to Consider
Some of the top sectors that engineering graduates get into include:
Many engineers decide to move their career up the ranks to an engineering management position where they are tasked with project management, leading teams, overseeing work, testing, and liaising with clients and other stakeholders.
Engineering management distance learning from uOttawa University has made it possible for experienced engineers to develop the business and leadership skills that are necessary to succeed as an engineering team manager or project manager.
While project management might be very different from the work that you have previously done as an engineer or an engineering student, candidates with engineering experience are often favored for these roles due to their unique combination of technical knowledge and business skills. Engineering management involves more leadership and business-related work than engineering, and in order to get into this field, you will usually have completed a degree in your chosen field of engineering, gained some experience, and gotten a relevant management or business degree.
Engineers that excel in this role tend to have strong leadership and organizational skills, are good communicators and have strong attention to detail while still being able to see the bigger picture.
Computer engineers are tasked with working on the design and prototyping of computer hardware and software. It is a subject that is closely linked with computer science and electrical engineering, and often favored by students who are studying another relevant IT subject. People who decide to work in a computer engineering career tend to be interested in roles such as software designer, software engineer, and other IT-related work. If you are interested in and want to build your knowledge of the intricate details of how computers work and tech, science and math are your strong points, this could be an ideal career path for you to consider.
Several computer science degrees offer engineering specializations such as computer graphics, network security, computer architecture, microprocessor systems, and more.
If you are a science buff, then chemical engineering might be the ideal discipline for you. Chemical engineers use scientific processes to produce useful materials or substances. It is a very multidisciplinary field, combining both natural, experimental, and life sciences in the process of engineering. The role requires engineers to be knowledgeable about and experienced in a range of science subjects including biology, biochemistry, and microbiology, along with strong skills in math and economics. If you are interested in studying natural sciences or life sciences alongside engineering, this engineering sector might be a good fit for you.
To succeed in the role of a chemical engineer, you will need to be naturally analytical and have an interest in the various chemical processes that are central to the production of everyday items that we all use. This sector has various different sub-fields that you may be interested in pursuing for your career including process engineering, process design, plant design, and transport phenomena.
Aeronautical engineering is a field that involves research, design, construction, development, technology, science, prototyping, and testing aircraft. This discipline often overlaps with astronautical engineering, which is focused on space conditions and spacecraft. If you are interested in the methodology and history of air travel and aircraft and want to learn everything that there is to know about it from the earliest planes to the modern airplanes that we are familiar with today, this could be the ideal career path for you. It is extremely interesting and allows you to not only work on projects such as the development of new aircraft and air travel opportunities but also learn about the mechanics of flight and how aircraft and aircraft machinery perform under a wide range of different conditions, including extreme conditions.
If you decide to pursue a career in aeronautical engineering, there are various sub-sectors that you may want to consider focusing on including aerodynamics, structures and materials, avionics, propulsion, and aeroelasticity.
Electrical and electronics engineering mainly focus on electrical power applications. They are two separate fields that are very similar to each other but do have some key differences. If you decide to work as an electrical engineer, you will be more focused on the production and supply of larger-scale electrical power such as powering buildings, while in comparison, electronics engineers tend to focus on smaller-scale electrical power and electronic circuits, such as those in computers, smartphones, appliances and more. If you are interested in how electrical systems work and want a job where you will have the opportunity to work on future tech developments, either electrical or electronics engineering might be an ideal choice for you.
If you are naturally inclined to understand electrical systems and are an outside-of-the-box thinker who enjoys work where you can come up with ideas for improvement, this engineering field could be a good fit. Like other disciplines, there are several sub-sectors to consider for your career including power generation, computing systems, power supply, communications and media, robotic systems, and many more.
Civil engineers are professionals who design and develop infrastructure projects. They may work on smaller-scale projects such as a single road or building, or on a larger scale, for example, nationwide travel systems, entire towns, and cities, or water supply networks. If you are interested in building and designing, civil engineering might be a great choice for career for you. It is an engineering discipline that can either involve working in an office taking care of the design side of things or being out in the field overseeing projects, with roles to suit either preference.
Studying civil engineering can be a great way to develop and improve your design skills, with plenty of options to learn more about computer-aided design (CAD) and is an ideal choice for anybody interested in statistical analysis, materials science, hydraulics, geotechnics, or mechanics. You can choose from a wide range of sub-sectors including structural engineering, hydraulic engineering, transportation engineering, environmental engineering, or architectural engineering, to name a few.
If you want to get into one of the most long-standing and broadest engineering fields available, mechanical engineering might be a good choice for you. This is also one of the most in-demand and fastest-growing engineering fields. Mechanical engineers focus on the design, manufacture, and maintenance of mechanical systems. If you choose this route as a student, you will be able to study a wide range of interesting topics such as statics and dynamics, mechanical design, stress analysis, thermodynamics, technical drawing, and more.
If you enjoy working with any kind of mechanical devices and are full of new and innovative ideas for future technology and machinery, this engineering discipline might be a good fit for you. Mechanical engineering is a very broad subject that often overlaps with other engineering disciplines to complete projects. In particular, mechanical engineers often work hand in hand with civil engineers and aeronautical engineers as part of a varied, interdisciplinary team to develop and improve mechanical technologies.
Working in this field gives you the opportunity to get into a range of sub-fields including nanotechnology, combustion, manufacturing, robotics, transportation systems, and more. There is also a new and quickly emerging related field of mechatronics engineering, which combines both electronic and mechanical engineering.
Engineering is a very broad field with professionals working on a range of diverse projects. If you are interested in engineering as a future career, choosing the right discipline for you will often be the first decision to make.