Career, salary survey 2022: Engineering advice

Education and attitude were leading advice categories from respondents to the 2022 Control Engineering Career and Salary Survey research.

By Mark T. Hoske and Amanda Pelliccione May 17, 2022
Courtesy: Control Engineering Career and Salary Survey, 2022

 

Learning Objectives

  • Identify engineering advice related to education, attitude and tips.
  • Review workplace strategies and project management advice.

Leading career advice topics are on education and attitude among six categories from respondents to the 2022 Control Engineering Career and Salary Survey research.

Leading write-in concerns, organized into 10 categories, are workforce and supply chain/material shortages and covered in a separate article.

Key advice includes:

  • Always upgrade skills and knowledge.
  • Take advantage of employer-sponsored education programs early in your career as much as possible.
  • Research emerging technologies and process capabilities.
  • Engineering is an exact science to be applied properly and ethically.
  • Think, do, learn, repeat.
  • Try to learn from the best and seek a mentor who is an expert in their field.
  • Prepare career plan and learn from others.
  • Show compassion to colleagues, learn about them as individuals and the workplace environment will be much more enjoyable and stress-reduced.

Table: Engineering career advice topics

Table 1: Formal, trade, hands-on, advanced and continuing education advice topped six topics, followed by all kinds of engineering attitude tips. Courtesy: Control Engineering Career and Salary Survey, 2022

Table 1: Formal, trade, hands-on, advanced and continuing education advice topped six topics, followed by all kinds of engineering attitude tips. Courtesy: Control Engineering Career and Salary Survey, 2022

Education

A college engineering degree is an amazing thing.

A good mentor is better than college.

A.S. or BS in Engineering

Add sales /marketing background.

Advanced degree

Artificial intelligence, machine learning

Although I could design circles around some of the “degree” folks, I couldn’t move up any further in rank because the business wanted a degree hanging on the wall.

Always keep learning.

Associates, trade school

College is great foundation, but relevant hands-on experience is almost more so.

Don’t just go to college; get co-op/intern experience.

Get as much as you can and cross fields if possible.

Get professional engineering license and MBA.

Have your company pay for advanced degrees.

Systems engineering.

Attend a good university known for educating engineers that know how to think and apply their knowledge in the real world.

Be appropriate: 4-year degree might not be the ticket.

Establish a PE license early.

Keep current and seek to build your expertise on your own if needed.

Keep getting education; don’t stop.

To understand and master the fundamentals

Update with new ideas.

Use trade schools to get hands-on experience.

Attitude

Allow your emotions to show at work; however, don’t go overboard.

Always be positive, encouraging.

Always try your best no matter your position.

Anything can be done, but not everything deserves to be done.

Appreciate what you have.

Attitude is the #1 requirement – other things can be taught and learned.

Be humble.

Don’t be afraid to call out reality; saying everything is fine when it’s not is destructive to business.

Keep it simple.

Think before speaking.

Thoroughly study and then proceed.

It is not a problem to acknowledge hard times, then you move forward with building back to a positive attitude.

Keep your curiosity; don’t be afraid to say you are wrong, or don’t know something. Allow someone to encourage you and be an encourager.

No challenge is too big, never shortchange yourself. The great people in engineering all started where you did.

Positive attitudes will always carry your career farther. Even when working through tough situations, maintaining positivity will speak volumes of your character and ability to maintain a professional composure. This will not go unnoticed.

Positive, productive, friendly and helpful

Engineering tips

Be open to help other areas.

Be thorough. Look from all sides

Cause-effect analysis

Certification courses and exams

Check it more than once; design it based on someone with no knowledge of what you are doing is going to build or run it.

Code programing

Develop a reference library.

Don’t overdesign.

Don’t reinvent; improve on something.

For newer hires, reach out to those around you on what they are doing to keep their skill sets up. More vintage persons, don’t hesitate to use the new hires to help with tools. They are very savvy on ways to do things faster, or know of tools to help.

If you don’t have a skill, chances are you can learn it for free if you just look for it.

Learn how to be self-sufficient in developing solutions, and then collaborate with more experienced (or other peers if “more experienced” is not an option) colleagues on the solutions you have developed.

Learn two skills outside your degree.

Move toward the position of a DESIGN engineer in whatever discipline is chosen. Being a designer, I’ve worked for engineers that were spot on with reporting integrity of structures, especially when utilizing related software programs, but were weak in actual application design maturity. Some of that was lack of experience.

Take a deep breath and then take the time to understand the project.

When designing always think of how you will put it together, whatever it is.

Communication

Avoid local jargon, in a global workspace; this reduces misunderstandings

Be direct and transparent.

Be flexible and communicate in the method that works for your management.

Be smart, genuine, honest, and transparent to those who are smart and mature. For all others, just put your kid gloves on and get through it.

Clearly communicate; get to the point.

Don’t fall into the habit of swearing; it looks uneducated and undisciplined.

Effectively, clearly communicate so listeners can understand.

Face-to-face is better

If nobody knows what you’ve accomplished, it didn’t happen.

Improve written and verbal communications skills.

IT communication skills.

Keep it concise; more words do not always mean more information.

Leave emotion out of engineering.

Effective communication requires a relationship. Transactional conversations with individuals you have no relationship with will eventually result in communication gaps often times related to assumptions and misinterpretations.

Learn your communication style and let those around you know. Learn your work teams preference and try to accommodate.

Never assume anybody knows what’s going on. Be the one who reiterates rather than assumes.

Workplace strategies

Accept challenges. Be your own best advocate.

Always listen to those affected by your work; Be flexible; Be kind.

Be open to others’ ideas.

Learn from those who have been there the longest before offering advice on something.

Remember that everyone has something to contribute. Don’t look down on others, learn from them.

Understand the culture of your organization.

Build trust with colleagues and subordinates

Do it your own way as much as you can, you’ll produce better results. Take ownership of your projects.

Do more than what is expected

Learn what others do well and don’t do it all yourself.

Listen to the people on the manufacturing floor, and let them know that their beliefs are valued.

Search for companies that have leaders, not managers.

Show compassion to colleagues; learn about them as individuals and the workplace environment will be much more enjoyable and stress-reduced.

Understand that other disciplines don’t understand what you do.

Understand the culture of your organization. Learn to appreciate the positive outcomes of that culture first, then work as a team to improve any cultural areas that need to be addressed.

Project management (PM)

Achieve targets.

Acquire the technical skills that will enable good project management with successful outcomes.

Always follow up

Ask plenty of questions; turn over all the stones up front.

Be a great team player.

Document and follow up to ensure project steps are completed in target times.

Draw and update a “priority vs. urgency” graph.

Empower others.

Fix all problems, not only your own.

Focus on time-cost relationship.

Good PM is the success of companies.

Keep records of everything and try to find a system that works best for you.

Quality/cost/time: Only can have two of these at once.

Run it like you own it.

Do the most important (revenue generating) thing first, or whatever your boss thinks is important. Don’t try to step up outside of that.

Plan the work, work the plan. When things go wrong don’t be afraid to adjust or ask someone with higher authority to make a big decision or trade-off.

You are the person your organization has entrusted. To be successful, you must learn how to encourage and motivate others towards success. Client relationship is also imperative.

Satisfying the three golden rules for projects promotes unbridled success: 1. On time 2. On budget 3. To the client’s satisfaction.

You’ll be juggling many projects before you know it. Day-to-day progress is not always tangible. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t multitask. No one is good at it, despite what others say. Devote your whole attention to each task, even if for small blocks of time.

Other advice

Always complement coworkers.

It’s easy to become an engineer but it takes work. Maintain the momentum and strive for continuous improvement in everything you do.

You can respect your employer while looking out for your own needs.

Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media and Technology, mhoske@cfemedia.com. Amanda Pelliccione, director of research and awards programs for CFE Media and Technology, conducted the research and assembled the related report.

KEYWORDS: Engineering career advice, concerns

 

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Identify engineering advice related to education, attitude and tips.

Review workplace strategies and project management advice.

CONSIDER THIS

What advice about automation and controls would you like to share with peers in an article? www.controleng.com/contribute


Mark T. Hoske and Amanda Pelliccione
Author Bio: Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media; Amanda Pelliccione, CFE Media research director.