Engineering advice: Education, workplace strategies, tips

Control Engineering career and salary survey advice is offered by those taking the 2018 survey and education and workplace strategies were the biggest topics, followed by engineering tips.

By Mark T. Hoske and Amanda Pelliccione, Control Engineering May 15, 2018

Education and workplace strategies are among engineering career advice offered as a write-in option on the Control Engineering 2018 salary survey. A total of 146 respondents offered write-in advice grouped for analysis and presentation into six categories: education, workplace strategies, attitude, communication, project management, and engineering tips. 

While many pieces of advice could be grouped into more than one category, only one category was chosen for each in this tally. Classification is subjective, and no effort was made to see if advice was put into the same categories last year and this year, but, even so, it’s interesting to note increasing emphasis on workplace strategies and engineering tips. Engineering career advice follows by category. 


Always build new skills.

Always keep learning and keep pace with technology.

Always try to keep learning new skills and knowledge. Be a lifelong learner. Be focused and ready to learn.

Complete education. Obtain certifications. Hire where the ability to move up is encouraged and supported.

Constantly study new methods and implement them as necessary.

Develop deep technical mastery in at least one area.

Earn while you learn.

Education at all levels: High school, college, career-based. You are as valuable as your knowledge so long as you are able and willing to apply that knowledge.

Engineering is the application of science.

Engineers take the challenge to convert science to technologies to uplift the living standards of humanity.

For engineering students, obtain an internship with a company in your area of interest. Real-world job experience is a must have to move from student to job holder.

Get a combination of electrical/electronics and mechanical degrees. It seems the market is trending towards that.

Get a degree in software.

Get an MBA or a Master’s Degree in your engineering field.

Get automation and robotic and specialized safety training for robotics and electrical, especially arc flash; companies and not even OSHA take any of this seriously. Since our last big surge in chip manufacturing in the late 1980s, we have not been a leader in manufacturing and development of new [wafer fabrication] technology. Yes, some in medicine, distribution, software, and internet, but what else? If we are going to get youth interested in a trade we need to be pushing this in schools in grades 4-6. Science, technology, engineering, and match (STEM) careers, yes, but what about plumbing, electrical, and craft trades. If you hook them early then STEM will work, but you have to get them to want to work with their hands. Working with my dad fixing tube TVs is where I got my spark, and, yes, getting that metal for a 6th grade science project in magnetism was awesome. We do not pay our teachers enough or supply schools with the proper funds to get what it takes to excite the kids to want more.

Get specialized in something that is in demand.

Get training in data communication for control systems applications.

Get your PE license. Never stop studying codes, standards, reading white papers, and industry publications.

Go into mechanical engineering. I have to maintain and get the junk they select running.

I believe it’s critical to keep technical knowledge and skills current, and to be constantly learning.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is one of the best options to choose and focus on after completing engineering from electronics/instrumentation/EEE/ECE.

In manufacturing, you need to study mechanical, industrial, and electrical engineering with PLC programming mixed in.

Industrial or manufacturing engineering is probably the best all around area, and then take certain classes to fill in the rest.

Keep current on the electrical code and new advancements.

Keep current on training.

Keep current with new products, trends.

Keep learning.

Keep learning new skills.

Keep up with current technology.

Keep your skill set relevant. Go to seminars, webinars, and association meetings as often as possible.

Learn as much as you can when the opportunity arises.

Learn as much as you can while you are young.

Learn as much programming as possible.

Learn information technology (IT).

Life-long learning.

Look into co-op colleges to get practical experience before graduation..

Never stop learning (x4).

Never stop learning and researching on your own. Keep building your skill sets.

Never stop moving forward and mastering new skills.

Own your education. Don’t wait for others to teach you something. Be willing to teach yourself. 

Question everything. Just because an expert says something doesn’t make it correct; only makes it an educated guess based on history and experience.

Read. A lot.

Remember what you learned in school and always be learning something that adds to your resume.

Start researching career paths prior to going to engineering program or schools.

Stay current!

Stay up on current technology.

Stay up-to-date on new technologies to help save on production and manufacturing costs.

Study, study, study, then research some more from all resources including technology and human.

Take all of the education available offered by your employer. Once it’s in your head, you can take it with you wherever you go.

Take the time to keep up with educating yourself with the latest design software.

This industry is one of the greatest fields of endeavor those fresh out of college, seasoned veterans, and persons from other countries (here legally) in all fields of industry could and should consider. Future possibilities are endless.

Train in data engineering.

Without an internship, no one will hire you. Have several lined up in case the company you will intern for gets bought out and decides the internship isn’t worth it. 

Workplace strategies

1) Use both left- and right-brain development skills. 2) Always think about automation. 3) Think about application of engineering knowledge to save Earth and help people live happily.

Get advice on regional and political interactions and their roles in engineering economics.

Aim for versatility.

Always ask questions to understand why you do what you do, and do your best.

Always keep your eyes open for more opportunities even if you believe you are happy where you are at.

Be data driven.

Be flexible, to function across multiple disciplines. Look for business rationale in everything you do.

Be responsible.

Be sure to find a mentor.

Consider automation as a career to use your engineering skills.

Do the work as if it were yours.

Do your best no matter what the circumstances.

Don’t become an engineer if you’re only in it for the money. You have to love it.

Don’t follow the trendy job; follow what you enjoy.

Find a good company to work for, and always keep your options open and resume updated.

Find something that you enjoy doing. It’s the time of your life; don’t just be looking forward to retiring!

Follow the money.

Follow through and retain the will to always start at square one to learn something.

Get a job where they value your talent in an area where you like to live. Get as much field experience as possible by actually performing the jobs that operators and maintenance workers do. An engineer shouldn’t ask anyone to do anything he/she can’t or isn’t willing to do himself/herself.

Get engineering technical and field training of what you make and install. IT whiz kids rarely are the most productive, and someone has to lead them to what to do and how to do it. Be willing to collaborate. Get into a field that has broad applications.

Get into sales to make money.

Get work experience however you can.

If companies are not committed to you, then there is no need to reciprocate.

Invest in your 401K.

Jump on the opportunity to be a part of a company that is investing in new technology and is driven to stay ahead of the curve. New challenges are what make engineering such a rewarding career!

Keep moving forward.

Keep re-skilling and move within the organization or a similar one to understand the business and advance career.

Know your limitations and learn new things.

Learn to be versatile.

Learn to work with others, learn about how to relate to different types of personalities.

Love what you’re doing.

Manufacturing isn’t a dirty word, and a job in manufacturing can be technically challenging and rewarding. Learn everything you can while you can and work hard. The rest will follow, usually.

Never stay satisfied and always improve. Become an obsessed, candid, and empowered leader.

Never turn down the opportunity to learn more.

Not best choice: it depends on the country necessities for these kind of skills.

Opt for artificial intelligence or an Internet of Things (IoT)-based career.

Read history and social trends; look for "black swans" in terms of opportunity and unforeseen risks to be prepared for. Robotics, for example, seems about to really take off; IIoT may be hype.

Really evaluate a job offering prior to accepting the job offering. Find a place that actually wants to invest in training for a technological industry.

Specialize in one field and stay current in your skills.

Start with a small company and get a lot of experience and/or startup your own business. Be your own boss.

Stay away from big companies, and if a merger or buyout begins, get a new job; it’s never good in the end!

Stay challenged.

Stay in one place +/- 4 years and assess your position. Don’t stay where you’re not appreciated or don’t have advancement opportunities.

Study hard, be a gentleman, focus on and enjoy learning.

Success will come if you work for pride and accomplishment and not only money.

To students straight out of college: You are not worth what your professors said you are worth. Take about 60% of that as a good starting wage. Learn the practical application of your schooling and then ask me for a raise.

While constantly looking to improve your skill set, learn to balance work and personal life.

Work on a variety of things. Don’t try to specialize in just one area. 

Engineering tips

Advanced control systems can give more efficiency to the processes. The most important thing to be successful is to have a good management system and produce product the market needs.

Be familiar with different programming languages and software.

Be worldwide minded.

Broaden your views and skills. Being too focused and working in a silo creates gaps between you and colleagues and impedes successful implementations. Operations technology and information technology people must come together.

Develop an interest in industrial automation.

Get involved, get hands on, and understand real-life applications.

Information flow efficiency is and will be the critical competitive advantage.

Keep developing new products here at home.

Keep learning new technologies, add value regularly, and upgrade technology wherever possible.

Learn automation.

Learn controls.

Learn electrical.

Learn instrumentation.

Learn internet and homeland security.

Learn IT governance, risk management, security, audit, standards, and controls implementation.

Learn, teach, and implement industry standards of the past and present to safely design, operate, and maintain the industrial world.


Try automation.

Use the general engineering way of thinking. 


Always do the best job you can, the karma will come back to you. Get additional education and/or a professional engineer (PE) license; the paperwork you can present is a major career builder.

Be curious.

Be inspired.

Be strong and courageous.

Do what you love, then what you’re doing really isn’t work.

Don’t quit.

Hang in there.

Keep on trying and eventually you will win.

Stay flexible.

Stay positive and focus on each day we have. Enjoy today.


Develop the ability to communicate.

Listen for management fads and work buzzwords into presentations even if they don’t have anything to do with your product. Most of all, anything you engineer, picture yourself having to maintain it, for somebody has to. That person will reward you with respect and trust.


Network with peers.

Practice soft skills (communication, project management, and mentoring) along with core engineering disciplines.

Stay focused on primary functions with well-communicated delegation. 

Project management

Always learn new things. Don’t hesitate to take on the challenging or unattractive projects.

Engineering is all details, but don’t miss the big picture of what the project is all about among all those details.

Engineering is very time-consuming.

Learn to adequately justify the need for equipment improvements and automation to sustain and improve your business.

Perform adequate upfront engineering to minimize costly unknowns during project.

Think less of engineering and more of managing people and processes. Too many engineers fail to value the people part.

Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media, Data provided by CFE Media research director, Amanda Pelliccione,

KEYWORDS: Engineering career

Engineering job advice includes education, work strategies, and engineering tips.

Never stop learning new things or challenging yourself.

Learning objective style is good.


What advice that has served you well you would offer that wasn’t provided here?