Electrical engineering is an exciting field, and one that the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts will grow between now and 2029. If you have an aptitude for math and physics, a strong work ethic, and excellent problem-solving skills, this might be the career path for you. Electrical engineers are employed in a variety of industries, meaning you could find work just about anywhere you want to live.
Aspiring electrical engineers will need a bachelor’s degree in either science or engineering to enter the field. However, there’s more to becoming a successful engineer than just earning your degree. Here are five pieces of career advice for aspiring electrical engineers:
1. Always keep learning
You’ve put years of hard work into earning your engineering degree, but that doesn’t mean your education is over. Electrical engineers should expect to continue learning throughout their career. In fact, continually improving your professional knowledge could make you an even better electrical engineer than you already are.
Electrical engineers typically receive a lot of on-the-job training, particularly in the first few years of their career. This sort of informal training is a valuable way to learn the profession under the guidance of more experienced colleagues. However, you might also need to complete additional coursework over the years to keep up with the latest tech, relevant government regulations, and changing industry standards.
2. Remember to work on your “soft” skills
Electrical engineering degrees require strong math and science skills to complete. A career in electrical engineering requires many other abilities and talents to succeed. These so-called “soft” skills could help you better relate to your colleagues and work smarter.
Soft skills are non-technical abilities that are sometimes hard to quantify. Examples of these are teamwork, time management, conflict resolution, leadership, active listening, and empathy. Soft skills are essential to almost every career, including electrical engineering. Even a freelance electrical engineer will be working with others in some capacity (such as clients, contractors, or builders), so it’s important to develop your soft skills as well as technical ones.
3. Try to stay flexible
Many young people starting their career have an idea of how they plan to move up in their industry. You may have a 12 month or 5-year plan (or beyond) that outlines your professional goals. While this can be a good way to help you stay on track and motivated at work, it’s important to keep an open mind as your career progresses.
Flexibility is important to many occupations, including electrical engineers. You may be given opportunities beyond what you imagined that may take you to unexpected places professionally. Keep an open mind when it comes to the projects you choose, the clients you work with, and the places you work. They might not match your plan, but they could lead you to surprising places!
4. Make risk management part of you work
There are potential risks to every occupation. For electrical engineers, these sometimes take the form of errors, omissions, or mistakes in the services you provide. A small miscalculation could be disastrous, especially when you’re working with electricity, so taking steps to avoid them as much as possible is advisable.
A review process can help you catch mistakes before they reach the client or otherwise cause setbacks to a project. Asking a trusted colleague or a qualified mentor to check your work may be a good option when you’re first starting out. If you are starting your own electrical engineering business, you can implement a more formal process for you and your employees to follow.
5. Consider business insurance
Mistakes happen, even to the most careful electrical engineers. It’s important to learn from these mistakes at every stage of your career, but you may also need to protect yourself from the fallout that could come with them. Engineering insurance is one way you might decide to do this.
There are many types of business insurance that can fit your needs as an electrical engineer. Depending on how you work or your business structure, you might consider these forms of engineering insurance:
- Professional Liability – This insurance protects you from claims raised due to unintentional mistakes made in the professional capacity.
- General Liability – Also referred to as Commercial General Liability (CGL) or “slip and fall coverage”, this insurance can protect your business against bodily injury or property damage lawsuits from outside parties.
- Business Owner’s Policy – This is a combination of policies, combining covers such as General Liability insurance and business personal property coverage, to help protect small businesses from costly interruptions to service.
- Workers’ Compensation – This type of insurance provides benefits to your employees when they make a claim against your workplace for injury or illness.
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