Civil engineers have a varied and exciting career ahead of them, but every ambitious professional reaches a point in their career when it seems they’ve hit a wall. There doesn’t seem to be a clear path ahead in terms of promotion in the company you’re in, and you can’t see how to make a sideways move without delaying your progress even further. While not all circumstances are within your control, but there are often some simple ways you can lay the foundations for a successful career and ensure you’re ready for promotion when the opportunity arises. Here are eight ways to improve your engineering career prospects this year.
- Deepen Your Technical Knowledge
If you feel you’ve learned everything there is to know about your specific role or field of engineering, it’s easy to feel demotivated. However, when it comes to engineering, that is rarely the case. Technology is always moving on, and even if there aren’t new projects in your company, you should consider looking for some freelance opportunities. These will not only keep you engaged and motivated but should also expose you to new ways of working, tools and unfamiliar fields of engineering.
The most senior engineers don’t limit their learning to one area, so try and expand your knowledge in a new direction such as software programming languages like Java.
- Improve Your People and Business Skills
Businesses want to employ people in senior roles who are motivated by business as well as engineering, so try and learn as much as you can about finances, operations strategy, and planning. This could not only improve your performance at work as you’ll have a better understanding of costs, maximizing profits, the importance of efficiency and project planning but could also help you start your own business down the road.
In addition to business skills, you should spend some time working on your ‘soft’ skills such as communication, teamwork, negotiation and people management. These skills will help you to excel in a more senior role when it comes to presenting to investors or potential clients and can help you to build stronger working relationships.
- Take Every Opportunity to Innovate
If you’re an engineer, you’re a naturally creative person who thrives in finding the best possible solution to a problem. This should mean that you can contribute to a project by doing more than simply taking instructions. Look for innovative ways to streamline a process, reduce costs, or improve a project and suggest them to your manager. This will highlight you as someone who is not only capable of innovation but also committed to the success of the company.
It’s often a good idea to share some of your career aspirations with others in your company to ensure they know you’re a potential candidate for promotion even before an opportunity comes up. Request some extra responsibility or a more advanced project and they’ll remember you as someone who can take on more senior responsibility.
- Become More Collaborative
Modern engineering often requires design and manufacturing processes across a variety of different fields, including some which fall outside of engineering. This is where your increased knowledge in other topics will be invaluable as you’ll be best placed to work with these other teams and individuals, making you a real asset to your company. The collaboration process will require excellent written and verbal communication skills as well as the ability to convey engineering concepts and technologies in ways that a layperson can understand.
- Advance Your Education
To ensure your skills and training are as good as they can be, you need to be investing in your education throughout your career. It’s likely that you will have a bachelor’s degree, but to reach the most senior level you will need to study for a master’s degree which will cover more in-depth subjects as well as project management and leadership. You can do this via an online course so you can study alongside your current commitments on a flexible basis. Find out how to get your online civil engineering degree in Canada.
If funding is an issue, you could ask your employer if there is any funding for external training courses. Even if the answer is no, it will show your employer that you’re motivated to advance your skills. Alternatively, you may be eligible for educational grants or loans from the government.
- Join Networking Groups
Networking with other industry professionals will also help you to advance your career as you’ll be able to share knowledge and potentially find new opportunities for growth. This can include strengthening working relationships with colleagues or managers, either by supporting them or asking them to act as a mentor. However, you should also look outside your company by attending industry networking events and conferences. If you do move on from a company or move internally, remember to maintain these positive relationships as much as possible; engineers should build bridges, never burn them!
- Get Involved in the Industry
In addition to attending networking events, you should consider joining a professional organization like the American Society of Civil Engineers. Subscribe to their publications, attend their events and take up administration roles where you can to raise your profile. You’ll meet engineers from both the local area and from all over the country which is the perfect opportunity to build more professional connections which could help you in the future.
To build your reputation as a credible and knowledgeable engineer, you may want to write articles which can be featured in industry news publications or journals. You could also promote yourself by contributing to an online magazine.
- Get Involved in the Community
Civil engineers are often involved in the wider community in a purely professional capacity but consider volunteering some of your personal time too. By providing a local community group or a charity with your expertise you could not only make a huge difference to people in need but could also build a profile in the media through PR coverage. Find a list of charities which you could help here.