What are the career options for a graduate engineer? This is a question that comes up frequently, in the course of career counseling sessions for engineering students. It is an easy question to answer: thanks to the fact that there are so many (real) opportunities available to graduate engineers. In this regard, engineering is different from certain other fields, whose graduates tend to have very few and far-fetched career opportunities. A course like engineering (any type of engineering) is unique in a certain way. You realize that an engineering course provides not just an abstract education, but also vocational/technical training. So by the end of it all, one is able to do certain practical things. One is able to execute actual engineering projects… When all is said and done, some of the career options open to a graduate engineer include:
- Setting up an engineering consultancy firm: this is one of the most lucrative career options for a graduate engineer, if it is done well. The challenge here is in getting the capital to launch the engineering consultancy firm, and in getting projects/contracts for the new engineering consultancy firm. Both challenges can be overcome, with the right level of effort. For instance, to get capital to start the engineering firm, one can opt to work in another engineering firm first (see point 2 below), or to work for a government department first (see point 3 below). Then you save whatever you earn, in order to raise the funds you need to set up your own engineering company. One can even opt to work for a non-engineering company, just to raise the necessary capital. You may, for instance, apply for a job at CVS. Then you’d go through the training on the CVSlearnet portal, and subsequently work at CVS for a couple of years or so. In that duration, you should be able to get the capital you need to establish an engineering firm.
- Getting employment in a private engineering firm: this can be a means to an end – like where you get employment at a private engineering firm with the objective of earning money to set up your own engineering firm. Or it can be the end in itself: where you opt to be working at other people’s engineering firms for your entire career. Sometimes, you come to figure out that you stand to earn more money working at other people’s engineering firms: more than what you’d earn from your own struggling engineering firm.
- Getting employment in a government department: various government departments hire engineers from time to time, and this too is an opportunity you can take advantage of.
- Going into the academia: this is where you opt to become an instructor at a college or polytechnic — because ultimately there has to be someone to train the future engineers. As an academic, you are assured of a paycheck at the end of the month, and you therefore don’t have to go chasing after ‘projects/contracts’ (like those who go into private practice). You therefore find peace of mind in the academia, even if the earnings are not as lucrative as in private practice.