on February 15th, 2023

Recent studies show that returning to school and getting that extra engineering degree helps further your career. But when is the right time, and where do you start? We offer some tips to get you back in the academia saddle.

Most working people start their employment with a high school or college diploma. Some engineering graduates enter the workforce after earning their bachelor’s degree, and not all progress to a professional engineering license.

And yet, continued education is a significant and growing concern for many engineers today, especially when it comes to furthering one’s career or snagging that promotion. A 2015 survey by Machine Design magazine showed that most of their readers (35.7%) had a bachelor’s degree. The next largest group was 22.4% with a master’s degree.

As the workforce of engineers ages, engineers need to stay in the loop with the latest engineering developments. So, considering how long you may have been comfortably stuck in the same position, you may want a better job, title, and a bigger salary to match. But when is the right time, and where do you start?

Seven easy yet highly effective tips on jumping back into studying

Furthering your education improves your job prospects.

Make Your Dream Job Become Reality

You’ve probably heard that the world has a shortage of engineers. But that doesn’t mean getting a graduate job in engineering or a promotion in the position you managed to get will be easy.

That’s because what employers mean by a “shortage” is that there aren’t enough engineers with the right mix of technical ability, personal skills, and practical experience in specific areas.

However, don’t fret! With the right mix of research, planning, and action, you can make yourself very attractive to companies desperate to find the right people to grow their businesses. Although there are a few hurdles you may encounter.

The following are seven common engineering career hurdles and how you can overcome them:

1. You apply for a new role and have yet to hear back from recruiters

It will be great to have some indication of why you were not deemed a suitable candidate, but this only sometimes happens. As a rule, the person who gets a job often has more experience, knowledge, and expertise. To get a better experience and track record, the first step is constantly getting additional education and addressing skill gaps, which makes you more competitive in the market.

2. You want to step up to a more senior or a managerial role

This is one of the most common reasons for EIT students to come back for a degree or a master’s degree. A senior role calls for advanced skills and superior engineering knowledge. Many EIT students benefit from promotions and senior positions. At the same time, they still study – the mere fact that you are doing a degree sends the proper signal to your employer that you are proactive, capable, and want to grow your skills.

Another area for improvement in getting a promotion is the need for more people management skills. This is true for engineering specializations, where technical abilities are prioritized, and managing others may become challenging. To prepare for this life change, special qualifications may be a solution.

3. You’ve been trying to increase your salary but seem stuck at a similar level

Getting a degree is not the fastest, but one of the surest ways to increase pay. According to PayScale, a Master of Engineering earns, on average, 20% more than a Bachelor of Engineering, and with more senior positions come more opportunities for salary growth in the future.

4. You last completed a structured educational program over ten years ago

Not only may your skills need to be updated, but a recent course will also look great on your resume. You can quickly improve your chances of getting a promotion or job by completing one of the short courses and gaining some valuable knowledge!

5. You want to change your career direction

New jobs are in high demand, which was yet to exist ten years ago. This includes sustainability and environmental engineering; hydrogen energy engineers; renewable energy engineers; data scientists, and machine learning / artificial intelligence experts. These jobs are in high demand and attract good salaries and bright career prospects, so it is only natural that many engineers want to move into this field. You can make your career move by picking up an education provider who stays on top of trends and can teach you the in-demand skills.

6. You are worried about your job being automated

Yes, industrial automation is now a growing reality. However, as the number of machines rises, so does the high demand for control engineers. So, now is the time to upgrade your engineering education. You can start by checking out EIT’s School of Industrial Automation, which will equip you with skills and expertise in the latest developing technologies in instrumentation, and process control, which is critical in this fast-moving work environment.

7. You have some skill gaps

It can be pretty daunting to browse jobs on a job-seeking website and realize that the requirements don’t meet your skills. Or get a graduate co-worker who seems to know a lot more. Short courses are a great option to fix skill gaps and acquire new skills that will look great on your resume.

Remember The most crucial thing that will improve your chances of getting a job in engineering as a graduate is experience. You should explore university courses, such as those at the Engineering Institute of Technology, that include time for year-long placements and can often lead directly to permanent employment. They could also help you improve your degree when you return to university the following year. Ask your school of choice about this option.

Tips to address engineering skill gaps and further your education

Upskilling and reskilling is ultimately the best way to future-proof your engineering career and get pay rises and promotions.

Tip 1: Make Use of The Freebies

There are “free” options to build up your knowledge of engineering, and our webinars are a great starting point; but, as you know, there’s also no such thing as a free meal. So, while you may gain insight, this will never be as valuable as real academic qualification and practical experience.

For starters, you can access free information through a plethora of resources and libraries, such as:
Applied Science & Engineering
Provides free access to 76 databases and almost 4,000 full-text, scholarly, peer-reviewed journals in various subjects from medicine to engineering.
Engineering Village
Comprehensive core engineering database using the Engineering Village platform back to 1970.
The e-books cover chemistry and chemical, mechanics and mechanical, sustainable energy and development, and transportation engineering.

Pitfall: Everything free usually needs more depth. Books in online libraries need to be published faster to cover emerging topics and tech, but this is still an excellent option to cover the basics.

engineering education
Free engineering libraries are extremely useful… and free

Alternatively, you could choose from any number of great courses from popular online learning providers such as Coursera, Udemy, or EDX. They cover a range of engineering fundamentals and emerging topics, and you can access a lot of their programs free of charge or at a low cost.

Pitfall: They don’t offer accredited courses with IEA recognition, and they do not provide student support from the lecturers, or practical training.

Last but not least, you would do well to become a member of an engineering group. This will can help you make connections within the field, which might help you find work or seek improved professional opportunities. Engineering groups also offer education and conference opportunities so that you can further develop your skills and improve your capabilities as an engineer. Here is a list of 10 Engineering Groups And the Value They Provide Members.

Pitfall – Joining professional engineering groups offers several benefits, such as mentorship and networking, but more is needed for learning a new skill from scratch. That’s where EIT’s dedication to ensuring its students receive a world-class education and gain skills they can immediately implement in the workforce comes into play.

Engineering education the EIT way
EIT Dean, Steve Mackay, presents a degree to a student.

Tip 2: Continue Your Paperchase

When it comes to improving your career prospects, it stands to reason that you would need to further your education qualifications. And this is why it said that the paper chase never really ends. Even the smallest piece of paper can go a long way in bumping up your CV and making you stand out from the competition.

The following tips will help you add substance to your educational background:

Attend training if offered at your workplace (or EIT can organize it for you). The problem is that not all employers organize high-quality engineering training for their employees, so often, you may have to take matters into your own hands. This is where our Professional Certificates are coming handy: short, inexpensive, part-time, and practical, they are an answer to many skill gaps in your engineering resume.

Complete an accredited course nothing beats a formal qualification from a reputable and well-known institution accredited in your country or internationally by the International Engineering Alliance. It gives you recognition and status, alongside cutting-edge skills.

TIP: if you must commit to a full degree before you can’t make it, you may want to start with a shorter qualification, such as an undergraduate or a graduate certificate, and finish your degree later.

At EIT, we understand the needs of working professionals, so all our courses are offered online. But you can study at your local university if they teach precisely what you need. You can contact EIT to attend their free webinars or courses and discuss whether online or offline classes suit your needs.

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