Should I Be an Engineer? 9 Questions to Ask Yourself

Should I be an engineer? That really depends on your personality, interests, natural skills, and the kind of lifestyle you’re after.

I’ve got 9 questions for you to help figure out if engineering is your calling. If you’re nodding ‘yes’ to most of them, then you’re on track to be a kickass engineer.

Choosing a career isn’t a walk in the park. You don’t wanna waste time and cash chasing something that’s not your vibe. Like, for me, the food service industry? No thanks, not my scene. The last thing you want is to gamble your future away. I mean, you wouldn’t go all-in on a wild night in Vegas, right?

And if you’re curious about what engineers actually do, check out my post for a sneak peek. Now, let’s dive into those 9 questions.

1) Are you all about STEM?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM covers a very diverse group of subjects.

STEM science technology engineering mathematics

Even though STEM subjects might not be all about engineering, they’re definitely connected. So, if you’re super into a STEM field, there’s probably an awesome engineering gig with your name on it.

Take biology, for example. It’s under the science umbrella, but you might not think it has much to do with engineering. Well, guess what? Disciplines like bioengineering are all about combining biology and engineering.

It’s mind-blowing how engineering has a hand in pretty much everything around us these days!

2) Do you geek out over tech?

Ask yourself:

  • Are you always chasing the newest gadgets?
  • Do you stalk sites like like it’s your job?
  • Are you stoked about learning how old and new tech works?
  • Do your bookshelves and YouTube history scream “tech-obsessed”?
  • Is your tech talk driving your friends and family up the wall?

If you’re nodding along to most of these, congrats, you’re a bona fide techie!

I’m all about tech, from AI to space travel and everything in between. When you’re that passionate, you don’t need a paycheck or a gold star to keep you going.

In the world of pro sports, it’s this kind of passion that breeds superstars.

Take the NBA, for instance. All those players were once the best of the best in high school and college. But in the NBA, some of them barely get any game time. And then you have legends like LeBron James. Not only is LeBron crazy talented, but he wants success more than anyone else. He spends a cool million on his body every year and can’t get enough of leveling up.

The same goes for engineers. Self-studying is where it’s at to boost your skills and climb the ranks. Anyone can be an engineer, but to be a 10x engineer, you need the fire and determination to go above and beyond.

3) Are you stoked for the future?

future of technology

Technology is only gonna get bigger and better. Just think about some of the rad stuff we’ve got today:

  • Smart home gadgets like TVs, fridges, doorbells, cameras, and more
  • Smartphones that let you chat with people across the globe in a heartbeat
  • Electric cars that can (kinda) drive themselves on streets and highways
  • The internet, which connects us instantly and puts the whole world at our fingertips

Do you daydream about making these technologies even better? If so, you’ve got the mind of a great engineer.

Awesome engineers are all about leveling up the present and building a brighter future. I’m personally super curious about what’s coming and love getting lost in sci-fi books and movies. I wanna help create the amazing future I imagine.

If you share that same passion for the future, you’ll have an unstoppable drive to engineer things that make a real difference.

A perfect example is Elon Musk, who’s working on mind-blowing future technologies like:

  • Electric cars
  • Rockets
  • Internet and satellites
  • Artificial intelligence

4) Are you a math whiz?

Do you dig math? Do new math concepts click for you without breaking a sweat? If so, you might just be a great engineer.

Math is the backbone of engineering. Even if you don’t use a ton of math in your work, understanding high-level math shows you can tackle problems like a pro.

At its core, engineering is all about problem-solving. If you can’t crack problems, you won’t make it in this field. You’ll either end up doing the dirty work for someone who can, or you’ll fizzle out of the profession.

math chalkboard with geometry algebra calculus

Real-World Problem-Solving Example

To show you problem-solving in action, let’s take a simple, non-math example: reading books. When you read, you gain knowledge, which lets you:

  • Have deeper convos with others
  • Advance your career
  • Earn more money
  • Cook up new ideas for potential businesses
  • Become a more well-rounded person

On the flip side, binge-watching reality TV gets you nowhere. You quickly learn you need to read more and skip the mind-numbing stuff to level up your life.

By using problem-solving tactics, you can spot the good and bad in your life, scale up the good, and ditch the bad.

Sounds easy, right? But seriously, look around you. How many people actually do what I just said?…

In engineering, the same concept applies. But, of course, the problems are way more complex.

5) Do you think outside of the box?

Are you the type who builds and experiments without a manual?

If you answered yes, then you’re already ahead of the game in the world of engineering. As you progress in your career, you’ll face increasingly complex problems that need creative solutions.

But heads up, if you’re just starting out, be prepared for some grunt work. Entry-level gigs often involve repetitive tasks and hand-holding. Don’t worry though, you don’t necessarily need a college degree for this type of work. If you’ve got the drive, you’ll quickly move on to more challenging projects.

Take bridge design, for example. While the process is fairly straightforward, each design presents its own unique challenges. You’ll need to consider factors like:

  • Load type distribution – dead loads and dynamic loads
  • Construction material
  • Pillar foundations
  • Bridge length
  • Natural forces like winds, hurricanes, earthquakes, and rushing water

As a lead engineer, you’ll find a one-size-fits-all design template doesn’t exist. You’ll need to think outside the box to design a safe and effective bridge, given the unique constraints.

While you’ll definitely rely on past knowledge, the real magic of engineering is the final 1% that requires outside-the-box thinking. This is where you’ll really shine as an engineer.

6) Do you have a strong work ethic?

A solid work ethic is crucial in any career, but it’s especially important in engineering. When people ask me, “should I be an engineer?”, I always start by asking about their work ethic.

You’ll face plenty of obstacles and challenges that’ll leave you either scratching your head in confusion or banging it against the wall in frustration.

In those moments, you might not know what to do or even think a solution is impossible.

These moments can make or break your career. That’s why you need a strong work ethic to push through tough times.

Also, remember, the bigger role you have in a project, the more of these moments you’ll face. Only in low-level engineering jobs can you hide from problems.

Working long hours

A killer work ethic is your best friend when you’re racing against the clock to finish a project. Burning the midnight oil and sacrificing weekends might become your new normal for certain tasks.

Take this one time, for instance. I teamed up with a power utility company catering to hundreds of big-shot customers who couldn’t afford to lose power for more than a day. We designed new equipment for a 115,000-volt to 12,000-volt substation, and when it came to construction, we had to swap out the old gear with the new stuff in under 24 hours.

I was basically on call 24/7 that entire week, just like a doctor. But unlike doctors, engineers’ work can impact thousands of folks if something goes haywire.

7) Can you handle stress like a pro?

stress in engineering and business

To be a top-notch engineer, you gotta handle stress like a champ. If not, you might find yourself stuck doing grunt work, with the higher-level positions out of reach.

Here are a few high-stress situations you’ll face in the engineering world:

  • Public safety: Your work affects the safety of the public and workers. One slip-up could be disastrous, so you better take your job seriously.
  • Pricey equipment: You might be in charge of buying million-dollar equipment or designing a tiny part that’s crucial for a $100 million project. If that part fails, the whole shebang could go belly-up.
  • Tight deadlines: Projects often come with deadlines that are no joke, and clients breathing down your neck. You’ll need to hustle while still delivering top-quality work.
  • Juggling projects: Balancing multiple projects is the name of the game, so staying organized and managing your time is essential.

8) Got thick skin?

In engineering, you’ll meet all sorts of characters, some of which can be stubborn and irritating. It’s like that in any profession, but sometimes, it feels like engineering takes the cake.

A lot of engineers have high levels of knowledge in their field, and some have been around the block a few times. That can lead to a know-it-all attitude and resistance to change.

Plus, many engineers are straight-shooters and won’t sugarcoat things. They’ll cut to the chase and disagree with you, no holds barred. Personally, I’m cool with that. Who has time for pleasantries that don’t help anyone? But it might take some getting used to for others.

The bottom line is, you need thick skin and faith in your work. Don’t let anyone push you around. If someone questions your design, but you believe in it, stand your ground. Defend your position and don’t let ’em bully you.

I’ve met plenty of loud engineers with decades of experience who couldn’t pull off a simple design to save their lives. So, having thick skin is key. The upside? Those heated debates over designs can actually be super helpful, preventing costly errors and helping you learn. Win-win!

Also, don’t beat yourself up over failures. We all make mistakes. Just learn from ’em and move on. Every goof-up is an opportunity to become a better engineer.

9) Wanna be a rockstar with a stable career?

Who doesn’t crave a stable career with a side of stardom? You’re in luck! By hustling in engineering, you can build a solid career and earn a sweet income almost anywhere on the globe. You’ll be able to snag a cozy pad, a sleek ride, and live in style. But in pricey cities like San Francisco, you gotta climb that corporate ladder pronto to live comfortably.

No worries, though, I’ve got your back! I’ve whipped up a step-by-step guide to becoming an ace engineer, so you can climb those ranks and hit your goals faster.

With a technical background, you can also cash in on your skills and kickstart your own business. Whether it’s tech-related or not, your problem-solving prowess will work wonders. The sky’s the limit when it comes to your earning potential as an engineer. And hey, even if your venture flops, you can always dive back into the corporate engineering world.

Wrap up Over “Should I Be an Engineer?”

If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these 9 questions, then high-five! Engineering might just be your calling.

But if you answered ‘no’ to any of ’em, don’t stress! You can develop the skills and traits you need to become an awesome engineer over time.

Sometimes, all you need is a little more exposure to the engineering scene to truly sparkle. Without it, you might never tap into your full potential.

Remember, a sturdy foundation is the secret sauce to engineering success. Nail that, and you’re well on your way to becoming a rockstar engineer in no time!

Ever wondered, “should I be an engineer”? What do you reckon is the most crucial trait or quality an engineer should have?


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