How to Become an Engineer

Four Parts:In High SchoolIn CollegeMid CareerSample Resume

Do you have an analytical mind with a penchant for problem solving? If you're good at designing things and you want to make a lot of money, becoming an engineer might be the right move for you. Majoring in engineering and getting relevant work experience are key to setting down the path to becoming an engineer. Once you're sure engineering is the career for you, the sky's the limit.

Part 1
In High School

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    Take the classes that will prepare you. It will help you get into engineering school, and make school easier.
    • Take math and science classes, as many as you can.
    • If possible, take an AP class or two. Many would suggest AP Calculus, but not every high school offers them.
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    Do extracurricular activities that help you prepare as well.
    • Look into a summer engineering program. Many of them are fun, and can get you learning faster.
    • Have a fun engineering related hobby. You can have fun, make good money, and get down the road of engineering at the same time. You could fix computers, build speakers, build websites.
    • Find a mentor who is an engineer.
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    Don’t worry about getting into the best college. Engineers get paid well no matter what school they are from.
    • Sure, Stanford and MIT engineers can get paid $150k at age 23, but really, engineers from any legit college do great.
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    Start to think about what kinds of Engineering you would like. You don't need to decide, but it is good to think about it.
    • Petroleum engineering pays more, but know that most jobs are outside big cities.
    • Aerospace engineering is really cool (building fighter planes), but can be a bad job market if the defense budget is being cut.
    • For the short term, maybe the long term, software and computer engineering will have tons of jobs.

Part 2
In College

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    Be careful of your first year of college in particular. Don’t overload yourself, since it can be overwhelming. Stick it out, buckle down, and don’t give up!
    • Even if you pass the AP exam, you may want to retake the class first semester of college and not skip ahead unless you are very confident. Retaking these classes will also boost your GPA.
    • Know that some schools have engineering “weeder” classes. The professors try to get aspiring engineers to give up. Why they do this, we don’t know, and no, it isn’t nice. But realize, once you get past that one or two classes, it is all downhill and easy from there. In fact, most schools will give senior engineering students all As.
    • Go to class, and to office hours. You don't need to but, do it unless you know you don't need to.
    • Get a study buddy, and a smart one.
    • Find someone to help you get through the hard classes. You may just have an awesome and smart study buddy, but find a resource for when you need more help. Best case is a junior or senior at your school. If you can afford to pay someone, that would work as well. Or you could try some of the new online tutoring websites.
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    Figure out a study schedule that works for you. Until you get into a groove, do what you can to get ahead of things. Do extra problems.
    • Some people do best at doing a bit of work each day, others prefer to do all nighters.
    • Make sure you know which classes will be important in the next year of your curriculum, and make sure you spend extra time on them.
    • Know your strengths and weaknesses. Understand what kinds of classes come easy to you, and which do not. Make sure you mix up your schedule so you have a balance.
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    Decide your major. Engineering has so many varieties, but your school may have a specialty.
    • Think about the different kinds of engineering, such as mechanical engineering, software engineering, biomedical engineering, structural engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and more. Note, in most schools, computer science is now in the engineering school as well. Many will call it computer engineering.
    • If you are a pure quantitative person, you would want to be in the engineering school, and not have to deal with the pesky liberal arts classes. However, if you really like the variety, consider a double major with something very different.
    • Remember that if you major in engineering, you can always decide not to work in Engineering. But if you don’t major in engineering, you won’t be able to work in engineering.
    • If you are thinking about business school some day, remember that engineering school is a great background for an MBA.
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    Once you are "over the hump" of the first year or two, your life will be good.
    • You can look at getting a mentor who works at a company to help explore career options.
    • Majoring in engineering gives you the freedom to work for a big company, a small company, or even to be your own boss as a consultant. A mentor, professor, or a recent grad can help you figure out what you might want to try.
    • Often professors will have jobs for juniors or seniors. Jobs can be in research, or in helping new students.

Part 3
Mid Career

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    Learn about engineering in your current job. For example, if you are interested in electrical engineering, get a job in a factory working with engineers. If you are interested in software engineering, apply for a QA job with a software company.
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    Decide if you want to go back to school. You can think about if you want to go to school full time, or part time.
    • See if your current employer will pay for engineering school. It is fairly common. If it there is no formal program, just ask! Many companies would be happy to invest in the education of an engineer. It saves them money over hiring someone new.
    • A good compromise is to take night school classes for the first semester or two, to see if you like it.
    • If you are interested in software engineering, you can simply learn to code on sites like W3Schools. Or, you can sign up for Odesk and do some jobs. You won’t make much money on Odesk, since you are competing with people overseas, but it is a great way to learn. Many silicon valley firms are desperate for engineers, and won’t ask for a degree anyway.

Sample Resume

Sample Mechanical Engineer Resume


  • Discuss the subject with someone who knows about it before getting into it.
  • Never neglect the power of a good revision.
  • Try to study more at nights and early morning.
  • Take a bath before study if you feel sleepy.
  • Study more during exams than your regular schedule.
  • Try to study by computer instead of books if you get tired or exhausted with some instrumental background music.


  • Make friends who keep the same interests as you do. Preventing bad company will help you to get out of lots of tensions of life which will help you to concentrate on your goal. Stay away from antagonistic environment. Never make friendship with anyone who seems to be disturbing, irritating, or lacking morals that humanity deserves.
  • Don't make enemies with colleagues or batch mates. This will disturb you a lot.

Article Info

Categories: Engineering