Steps to Become An Engineer

Engineering is a broad field with many specialties such as mechanical, electrical, civil, software and biochemical etc. Professional engineers make use of scientific and mathematical principles to build bridges, design medical equipment, construct large buildings/structures and create software etc.

Many of the things used by people every day (phones, laptops, automobiles, roads, bridges, etc.) have been built by engineers. If you are interested in joining this dynamic field, then this guide is certainly for you. Read on to find out how you can become an engineer in America.

What Does an Engineer Do?

Engineering can simply be defined as a process of producing a technical product that can fulfill an existing need. To do that, professionals in the field employ mathematical and scientific methods to create stuff that will be useful for the people. Be it simple items of everyday use (phones, laptops, tablets, cars, motorcycles, vacuum cleaners, etc.) or bigger projects (bridge, building, mass transit system, heavy machinery, etc.), engineers have an important role to play.

This dynamic sector is divided into many sub-disciplines. Listed below are the 5 biggest areas of engineering.

  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering

Apart from these, following are other popular areas of study for aspiring engineers in US as well as around the world.

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Oceanic Engineering
  • Mechatronics Engineering

According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities are set to grow in most engineering disciplines. For Mechanical Engineers, there will be a 4% growth in jobs from 2018 to 2028. On the other hand, Civil Engineering jobs will grow by 6% during the same period while opportunities for Electrical and Electronics Engineers will increase by 2%.   

Steps to Become an Engineer in the US

You will need to take the steps detailed below to become an engineer in the US.

Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step on your journey is to earn an undergraduate degree in your chosen engineering discipline. You must enroll in a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Step 2: Pass the First Licensing Examination

Professional engineers (PEs) in the US have to pass two licensing tests conducted by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). The first is the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam which can be taken by engineering students who are close to graduation. Those who clear this assessment are referred to as engineer interns (EIs) or engineers in training (EITs). 

Step 3: Gain Work Experience

As an EIT or EI, you will be eligible to look for a job and gain work experience. To be eligible for the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, the second licensing evaluation, you will need experience of at least four years. However, this requirement is likely to vary based on your chosen discipline. 

Step 4: Sit for and Pass the Second Licensing Exam

After gaining the needed work experience, you can take the Principles and Practice of Engineering examination. This is the final stage in the process of becoming a licensed professional engineer in the country.

How Much Does an Engineer Earn in the US?

Professional engineers can enjoy a lucrative career in the United States. As reported by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Electrical Engineers earned an annual mean wage of $103,480 in 2019. The District of Columbia was the top-paying state for professionals in this field with an annual mean income of $122,330.

On the other hand, Mechanical Engineers made $93,540 in annual mean salary in 2019. New Mexico was the highest-paying state with a mean annual wage of $114,420 while Michigan had the most jobs with nearly 44,000 employed mechanical engineering professionals.

For Civil Engineers, the annual mean wage for 2019 stood at $94,360. California was their biggest employer (over 49,000 jobs) as well as the state providing the most attractive pay packets (annual mean income of $110,480).  

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