Do engineers like their jobs? It depends on your personality, why you picked this career path, and the type of work you’re into.
Let’s explore the three factors that come into play for every engineering field out there.
#1 Finding the right personality fit for engineering work
For engineering to really click with you, you gotta be cool with:
- Tackling problems solo as you research and solve complex issues
- Harnessing the power of math to crack those problems
- Shouldering the responsibility of creating designs that could impact public safety
- Embracing the never-ending learning process
- Welcoming challenges that push you to your limits
- Collaborating with brilliant, yet introverted, fellow engineers
And to really rock your engineering career, you’ve got to have social skills. You can’t just hide behind a desk like they show in movies. You need to effortlessly chat about projects with clients and colleagues alike.
In a nutshell, not everyone’s cut out to be an engineer – and that’s perfectly fine! There are plenty of jobs I’d be terrible at too. But if the above points strike a chord with you, then you’re bound to fall head over heels for engineering.
#2 The real reasons for entering the engineering profession
Many folks dive into engineering for the wrong reasons, and that’s a one-way ticket to loathing your job.
Sometimes, though, you might just luck out. External pressures could align with your true calling. For me, I’ve always been a tech and engineering junkie. So becoming an engineer? No-brainer.
But some folks might be drawn to engineering for not-so-great reasons, like:
- Parents pushing the engineering dream
- Chasing the big bucks that engineering supposedly brings
- Wanting the perceived status and prestige that comes with being an engineer
- Friends and family telling you engineering has the coolest jobs
The key thing here is the word only. For instance, if you’re pursuing engineering solely for a high salary, you’ll eventually burn out.
To truly thrive as an engineer, it’s got to come from within. You need a genuine, deep-rooted passion for the subject matter.
#3 Type of engineering job you land
Landing a crummy engineering job can leave a bitter taste in your mouth and maybe even make you question the entire profession. That’s why it’s crucial to get a feel for the different types of jobs in your chosen field before diving in headfirst. Don’t just look at entry-level positions, either; they’re often filled with grunt work that’s pretty standard across industries.
Instead, check out the higher-up roles to see what you could eventually work towards. That way, you can decide whether you want to climb the corporate ladder or start your own company. The best part? You can research both options online!
Now, let me tell you about the 7 common struggles in engineering jobs, based on my chats with numerous engineers over the years:
#1 Terrible boss
Imagine a boss who never utters a kind word, always shifts blame, and refuses to give credit where it’s due. They want to control everything, even when they lack the technical expertise to back it up. And don’t even get me started on poor management!
#2 Low pay
If you’re barely making ends meet, you’ll likely hate your job, no matter what. Especially after spending years studying for a career and being buried in student loan debt.
Add to that the liability that comes with engineering gigs. Usually, the more risks you take, the higher the pay you’d expect. But if the pay doesn’t match the workload and responsibility, you’ll find yourself burning the midnight oil for peanuts.
#3 Long commute
Lengthy commutes are not only exhausting but also downright dangerous. Trust me, no matter how much you adore your job, a 4-hour daily commute is a deal-breaker. I’ve seen folks traveling from Sacramento to San Francisco every day – no amount of money could get me to do that!
#4 Constant travel
Hopping from state to state or country to country loses its charm real fast, and it’s mentally draining too. This is especially true if you have a family back home or consider yourself an introvert.
Everything in a company crawls at a snail’s pace. It’s no wonder many engineers prefer working at startups, even if it means taking a pay cut.
#6 No upwards mobility
Hitting a pay ceiling early on can be demoralizing. Knowing you’ll be stuck in the same role for decades is not only depressing but also financially damaging in the face of inflation.
#7 Limited technical work
Imagine training to be a chef only to end up microwaving pre-made meals. It’s the same when you’re stuck doing paperwork instead of technical tasks. On the flip side, repetitive engineering work can be equally disheartening, like solving the same equation on repeat.
What makes an engineering job great?
Just flip the 7 struggles I mentioned earlier. And for true engineering enthusiasts, the ideal position would involve:
- Creative pursuits
- Unique projects
- A mix of field and office work
- Autonomy over technical ideas
For the ultra-driven engineer, the ultimate job might also involve:
- High stakes work
- High profile clients
- Tight deadlines
- Long hours of meaningful work
Think SpaceX: launching groundbreaking rockets, collaborating with clients like NASA, and doing it all in the global spotlight. How cool is that?!
“Do engineers like their jobs?” wrap up
Just like any job, some folks are gonna love it, while others can’t stand it. Plus, as we grow older, our interests and priorities shift. That’s why it’s crucial not to base your career choice solely on what others say or think.
I gotta say, all the engineers I know are crazy about engineering. But that doesn’t mean they’re all head-over-heels for their jobs. So if you end up in a job you can’t stand, don’t sweat it. There are thousands of different engineering jobs out there, and you might find a better fit somewhere else.
Do you find most engineers like their jobs? And if you’re an engineer, what drives you nuts about your job?
Featured Image Photo Credit: Science in HD (image cropped)
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Koosha started Engineer Calcs in 2020 to help people better understand the engineering and construction industry, and to discuss various science and engineering-related topics to make people think. He has been working in the engineering and tech industry in California for over 15 years now and is a licensed professional electrical engineer, and also has various entrepreneurial pursuits.
Koosha has an extensive background in the design and specification of electrical systems with areas of expertise including power generation, transmission, distribution, instrumentation and controls, and water distribution and pumping as well as alternative energy (wind, solar, geothermal, and storage).
Koosha is most interested in engineering innovations, the cosmos, our history and future, sports, and fitness.