It’s completely possible to switch between engineering fields. It may even be the right choice for you. It won’t be easy, though. You’ll probably have to complete courses, work at lower pay initially, and maybe even complete internships at the start. But, you can definitely shift to a better engineering field no matter how far along you are in your current one. In the end, your career should always reflect what you want.
Why you may want to switch to a different engineering career
Engineering is a highly specialized field with many subfields and roles. Each sub-field has separate qualifications and certifications. So, changing your engineering field may require you to get new qualifications. Yet, there are a few reasons why doing so may be worth it for you.
Technology changes these days rapidly. So, you never know which field does best. There’s high demand for electrical engineers in America today, but there might not be a few years from now.
So, changing engineering fields could be a good strategic decision for you if a different field has higher demand.
How to switch between engineering fields
This 8-step approach will teach you how to switch your engineering field.
1. Be Very Clear About Your Interest
Think hard about what type of engineering you love most. Do you want to design software or tinker with robots? Maybe you’re really interested in how different chemicals interact or how planes work. It’s up to you. You need to know what you want.
2. Consider Your Skillset And What New Path Synergizes
Once you’ve decided on your destination, it’s time to build a road to it. Learn about how your current skills and qualifications match your intended field. Will you have to get a new degree, learn completely new skills, and basically start over? Or, can you easily be transferred to another field?
For example, you’ll easily switch to geotechnical engineering if you’re a civil engineer who understands fluid mechanics and uses CAD software. Switching to chemical engineering from being a software engineer won’t be as easy.
3. Do Market Research In Various Fields
Every engineering field is different. Each one has a separate pay scale, employer expectations, and industry norms. Your goal is to learn about your intended field’s specific norms via market research.
You’ll want to learn about the new field’s average salaries, work environments, and usual responsibilities and duties, among other information. Learning about all this will help you better conceptualize your new career.
4. Narrow Down Your Choices
Consider the specific role you want in your new field. As a civil engineer, do you want to work with the government or private construction firms? As a chemical engineer, would you rather work with pharmaceutical companies or natural resource extraction? Etc…
Factors like your lifestyle, medical needs, and other limitations should be factored in when deciding on a niche. Location is also another big factor. For instance, would you be alright moving to Saudi Arabia as a petroleum engineer?
5. Get In Touch With Someone From That Field
One of the best ways to learn about any field is to talk to someone who works in it. Preferably, find someone from your social circle who’s working in the field and ask for their guidance. Learning about their experience is vital because they’ll tell you how things are on the ground.
If possible, you should even request shadowing them to learn more. Your goal is to understand the field’s everyday life to prepare yourself.
6. Seeks Out If There Are Any Certifications Or Accreditations
Most engineering jobs require certifications or accreditations. You don’t necessarily have to go back to college to learn about your new field. There are many courses and institutions across the U.S that will bring you up to speed fast.
For example, you could get a Cisco CCIE certification to be accredited in cybersecurity and network engineering. These types of certifications give you the technical know-how for the job and help you understand the industry better.
7. Try To Get An Internship
This step is optional but highly recommended. An internship gives you the most in-depth opportunity to learn about your new industry. An internship will help you explore your new field firsthand, build invaluable connections, and even find a job later.
However, you don’t necessarily have to complete one. It’s completely understandable if you’re already an experienced engineer transitioning to a similar field to your old one. You don’t need an internship in that case.
8. Apply To Jobs
Once you’re set on your career path, it’s time to get a new job. Start by updating your resume to reflect your new skills and goals. You can also use industry-specific keywords in your resume to look better to recruiters.
Furthermore, the best place to find a new job would be among your existing acquaintances. Ask contacts in your intended industry if they give you any leads. You could also apply online via LinkedIn.
Tips for changing your engineering field
Use these tips to fast-track your journey into a new engineering field.
Tactically Prepare For The Job Interview
Most engineering job interviews are technical. They’ll be less about you and more about what you know. That may or may not be a good thing depending on you as a person. In any case, you want to prepare systematically for the interview.
You’ll want to study for the interview, almost like an exam. Prepare for frequently asked technical interview questions and brush up on your knowledge. If possible, even try having a mock interview with a friend or colleague to test your knowledge.
Use Your Existing Network
Who you know can sometimes be as valuable as what you know. As an experienced engineer, you’ll likely know many other people in the field. Some of these other people may even have ties with your new intended field. Reach out to them.
In addition to that, Inform your friends and contacts that you’re changing fields and looking for leads. You might just know someone who has the perfect job for you. It’s a great way to find a new job.
Take It Slow
While Switching careers is a drastic change, even from relatively similar fields. It may take you time to fully be ready for the challenges. Don’t push yourself on a strict schedule.
Instead, you’d be better off following a relaxed approach. Take your career slowly but surely, focusing on how to properly become a part of the new field.
Wrapping things up, you can definitely switch between engineering fields. But, it’s not always an easy transition. Yet, it could be worth it for you if the new field has better prospects than the old ones. That being said, you want a slow and careful transition.