Engineers regularly take a problem, and make a solution. Their work has built up cities and industries alike. They are one of the most important positions for future development, and yet for most engineers there will be a proverbial glass ceiling to their career. Why? Because any further than the best, means management. It means taking your skills and leading an entire team or company forward.
Business management is not something that is just learned overnight. Though, when you learn it, many of the concepts that lead to success may seem like common sense, it actually requires an entirely different mindset. Add on the necessity of learning additional elements, like accounting and even a more global approach to things like supply chain management, and there is so much that an MBA or a Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM) can teach you.
Furthering your career as an engineer can, of course, take many different forms. It is entirely about how you want to progress and what kind of legacy you want to leave behind. To help you choose, and start your pathway to greatness, here are the top career paths to choose from:
Work in Upper Level Management
The first option available to you is to work in upper level management. There is an entire new platform just waiting for you, once you branch off from skilled worker to talented leader. Start first by leading your own team, then the department, until you reach the executive level positions that give you the most influence and control over the future of a massive, global company.
Reaching that high level position is a matter of networking, negotiating, and of course building the right skills. Most top level engineers are not prepared to take on leadership roles, but at the same time if they work to pursue an MBA or Master of Science in Engineering Management (MSEM) they can outshine even top business leaders by bringing the two fields together.
Business leaders need to understand management, administration, finance, marketing, supply chains, and so much more. These are not skills you learn along the way of becoming a top engineer. There are hard skills and soft skills you need to become a business leader as an engineer, but the effort is well worth it. Just click here to learn more about the benefits of achieving an MBA or MSEM for your career, and you’ll know it is the right move forward to reach those upper level positions. The wages alone are worthwhile for an engineer to pursue an MBA or MSEM, as they earn an average of $106,000 to $200,000 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Start Your Own Business
The second option available to you is to start your own business. It is here that being an engineer with a Master of Business Administration will really come in handy. There is so much to running a business that you do not know. There is a reason why there are experts who have focussed their entire lives on business management and growth – because it is an entire career on its own. Starting your own niche business means learning all that there is to know about expansion and business management, and then applying that to your existing skillset as an engineer.
Similar to choosing to work in upper management, starting a business of your own is best done later on in your career, however unlike striving for an executive position this is not a hard rule. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone to start a business, but there is a lot you need to prove to succeed with your new business.
Having that MBA or MSEM will help you build that new company from the ground up, and most MBAs require years of experience and a robust resume to qualify. Combined, it means you will be in a better position at the height of your career.
Waiting this long offers additional advantages when it comes to starting a business of your own. You’ll know the processes, what clients want, have a portfolio bursting with exceptional projects, and most importantly you will have connections. Knowing who to work with, and even being able to build a preliminary client list, will do wonders for the success of your business.
Combine that industry expertise you currently have, with everything there is to learn in an MBA, and your chance of succeeding as a business owner increase substantially.
Teach the Next Generation
Teaching the next generation can come in many different ways. You can work to achieve an EdD, and then go on to teach, or at least be a guest lecturer at a university. This is perfect if you want a change of pace and scenery but don’t want to completely throw away all the hard work and skills you have built up over the years.
You would be expected to contribute to research, and even complete projects of your own through the university as well. This works to build up the university’s reputation and will enable you to diversify your workload to keep things interesting.
This option, however, is not your only one.
Start Your Own Website or Blog
Getting your voice out there by building a website is one of the most important steps to branch out beyond your career and influence the next generation of engineers. Work to put together detailed guides, how-tos, and just general advice and you can be the go-to resource for students everywhere. You could even be a great resource for working engineers, depending on the quality and level of information you provide. If you focus on future trends, changing policies, and business strategies to tackle upcoming challenges, you can easily become the go-to online resource for those in your field.
Such an approach has many additional benefits. For one, your name gets out there. You become a thought leader in your field, and in turn will find people come to you with offers. This could be a job offer, or the opportunity to guest lecture, speak at a discussion panel, or to even be a part of a course.
Create an Industry-Specific Newsletter
If you want to make it easy for professionals in your industry to subscribe and rely on you for information, then start a newsletter. These can be easily managed through LinkedIn, so you can connect with fellow engineers and work to build a great resource that puts you at the top of your field for many. When people think of a notable engineer, their first thought will be you because you have helped them improve themselves.
Public Relations and Networking
Waiting for others to come to you is not a good strategy. It is something that will likely happen on its own at a certain point, but why wait? Get in touch with event co-ordinators and other engineers who frequently speak at conferences, discussion panels, and even at universities and see how they got involved. You may be able to get directly on the list, or you may be given a key contact to make that connection happen.
Sit on Panels
There will be panels, guest lectures, and more that discuss your industry. The panel might want to include an expert in engineering as part of a larger discussion, for example city development. Or it might be a niche discussion designed to inform and improve engineering as a singular industry. Regardless, try to sit on these panels and give your two cents. You will again solidify your position as the top level engineer, work to build up your resume and credibility, and even set the foundations to start a business of your own.
Never underestimate the publicity that comes from simply being public and working to improve engineers and engineering as an industry. It is this that will make you stand out from other highly qualified prospects when applying to an executive-level position. Or, alternatively, how you can make a splash when you start a business of your own.
Remember to Take Your Own Path
The point of options is to know. The more you know, the more inspiration can hit and you can walk your own path forward. You may want to further and progress your career as an engineer solely through professional means. You may want to branch out and teach others, or to inspire the overall community to change. At the end of the day, how you further and progress your career is entirely up to you, but branching off and attempting new methods can help all areas of your life.
Working to be an inspirational leader can help you get hired for administrative and executive-level roles in a new company. Building your own company can put you in an ideal position to teach and improve your community. There are so many ways you can expand beyond your job role to further your career into legacy.