Being an engineer isn’t an easy job. To become a professional engineer in Canada, you need a degree and several years of on the job work experience, meaning it will take at least 6 years of combined study and work experience before you can become a licensed engineer in Canada! Luckily, engineers enjoy a rewarding career, knowing they’re creating machines and structures that benefit society.
However, when it comes time to look for a job, some engineers find themselves at a loss for how to sell their strengths and market their skills. Engineering tends to be a very hands-on profession, which can make positioning yourself for jobs a little more challenging than in some other professions.
1. hone in on an engineering specialty to access higher paying jobs
Engineering is a diverse field with many different disciplines and specialties for you to choose from. In the broadest terms, engineering is a ‘branch of science and technology concerned with design, building and use of engines, machines and structures.’ As you can imagine, that leaves a lot of ground to cover. Having clear career goals and honing in on a discipline you’re interested in will allow you to become a specialist in an area that interests you. Being a generalist is fine in many careers, but as an engineer, you’ll find choosing a specialty leads to higher paying jobs.
Not sure what your calling is? Here are a few of the most in-demand engineering professions in Canada, worth considering:
Civil engineers - Civil engineers design, develop and oversee the construction of buildings and infrastructure. This can include everything from high-rises to residential homes, to commercial buildings and strictures, to roads and bridges. Civil engineers may also work on water, sewer and drainage systems. Jobs are available in both the public and private sectors.
Electrical engineers – Electrical engineers design, develop and test electrical systems and equipment. As an electrical engineer you may work on all kinds of electrical devices, from tiny microcomputers to massive supercomputers. You might also work in the power, transmission or telecommunications industries, on large-scale electrical systems or power grids.
Mechanical engineers – Mechanical engineers design, build, test and improve machines that serve a variety of purposes. Depending on your role, you may design machines such as generators, batteries, engines, turbines, appliances, heating or cooling systems, elevators, or escalators. Manufacturing engineers also fall into this category. As a manufacturing engineer you’ll develop machines to assist with or streamline manufacturing processes.
Biomedical engineers – Biomedical engineers analyze and solve problems related to biology and medicine, with the end goal of improving human life. Biomedical engineers can work on developing artificial organs or limbs, or medical treatments or devices such a pacemakers, hearing aids and other devices with medical purposes. They also may work on creating, testing or improving medical equipment, devices or instruments for diagnosing or treating medical conditions. Biomedical engineers often have a dual background in engineering and medicine or biology.
Petroleum engineers – Petroleum engineers work in the oil, gas and mining sectors. Their primary goal is to design safe, effective and cost-saving methods of extracting oil and gas deposits. Though you may work on developing a method to tap into a new reservoir, you might also be tasked with finding a new way of extracting oil and gas from a preexisting well.
Software engineers – Software engineers use the principles of computer science, engineering and mathematics to design, develop, test and implement software. As a software engineer you may develop operating systems, computer applications, games, computer networks, or enterprise software or systems for businesses, among other things. As a software engineer, you’re typically expected to be adept at software development and understand key programming or coding languages.
These are just a few of the many engineering professions out there. Check out our engineering job listings to see what other engineering jobs are out there right now. Also check out this list of 10 lesser-known engineering careers that are worth getting into.
looking for a job in the engineering sector?
2. developing a portfolio of your work can help you stand out
Engineering is a hands-on profession, and sometimes a resume isn’t enough to capture the complete spirit and breadth of your work. Often engineers will find a portfolio is an invaluable tool during a job hunt. Not only does it allow you to better express your work experience, it can help set you apart from other candidates.
Your engineering portfolio should include:
- A bio that focuses on your education, certifications and work experience
- A copy of your engineering-focused resume
- Detailed information about your work and the projects you’ve worked on
- References or letters of recommendation from people you’ve worked with or for
- Examples of projects you’ve worked on, or other demonstrations of your skills. This is your chance to be creative. Do you have a YouTube video of a project coming together? Have you built models or prototypes you can show off (photos will do)? Anything that showcases your engineering skills in action will add weight to your portfolio.
3. networking is important in engineering, too
Though engineering is a diverse field, the engineering community is smaller than you might think! Especially once you’ve honed in on a discipline. So who you know is incredibly important when you’re looking for a new engineering job. You never know when a previous client might be hiring, or former colleague might be in a position to recommend you for a job at their current firm. It’s no secret that hiring managers love referrals. Referred employees are faster to hire, they’re easier to train and they stay longer. Even if you’re not a natural networker, here are a few places to build up your engineering network!
- Colleagues and former colleagues – your coworkers are the best place to start your network. They work in the industry and probably have highly relevant connections, particularly if they’ve been in the field awhile. This extends to clients and bosses too. Just make sure you’re not that coworker who’s constantly asking for things without offering anything in return.
- Your alumni association – most colleges and universities will have an alumni association you can join to connect with fellow classmates who graduated from the same program as you. Most people have fond memories of their alma mater and may give preference to fellow grads, which could give you a little boost, if you’re looking for a job.
- Professional associations – in Canada, each province has a professional engineering association you can join as an engineer. You might also be able to find more specialized engineering associations for your chosen engineering discipline.
- Social media – social media is a surprisingly great way to meet other engineers. Check out the discussion groups created for engineers on sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Twitter also has some prominent engineering accounts worth following such as @Engineeringcom. Question and answer sites like Quora are also great for engaging with the engineering community.