Engineering advice: Get life-long education, consider workplace strategies

Control Engineering career and salary survey advice is offered by those taking the survey. Education-related advice was the biggest topic for engineering advice, followed by workplace strategies and attitude.
By Mark T. Hoske and Amanda Pelliccione May 16, 2017

Education-related advice was the biggest topic for engineering advice, followed by workplace strategies and attitude. Courtesy: CFE MediaImportance of life-long learning is among engineering career advice offered as a write-in option on the Control Engineering salary survey. Among subscribers taking the Control Engineering salary survey in 2016, 89 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 was chosen for this tally (see image).

Engineering career advice follows by category.


Always build on your knowledge. Knowledge is the key to moving ahead. Be proactive.

Always keep learning new aspects of your field.

Always learn.

Always strive to learn new skills.

Be an expert in Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Become bilingual.

Change profession to finance or at least to something more stable, like acting.

Continue to study. When you stop learning new things, you soon lose the flexibility to adapt to change.

Continue an interest in education.

Continuing education is a necessity.


Education is the key.

Get experience. Co-op while in school. Learn the ins and outs of different engineering fields. STAY OUT OF DEBT.

Get letters after your name.

Get training in electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.

Go to school.

I highly suggest getting an engineering degree, preferably with a double major with two engineering disciplines or with engineering and business. The jump in pay for engineering versus non-engineering is tremendous. If you’re already in industry, I suggest learning as much about technical topics as possible and securing a spot at your company as a technical expert because you are unlikely to be let go, and you are considered a valuable team member.

I think having a technical degree with an MBA was a good choice since I planned on getting into management.

Invest in formal education early in your career and keep updating your skills. Focus on business development and communication skills.

Keep current on technology trends. Get involved with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and encourage youth to get interested in doing anything besides gaming all the time. Always be looking for novel ideas to apply to your product.

Keep learning.

Keep learning.

Keep learning because you don’t know what the future (of your company) holds.

Keep up to date on changes and education.

Keep up with technology and read or view short articles or videos to stay current. Ask questions to those that may be able or willing to help you hone your skills.

Keep updated.

Learn a variety of skills and software/hardware platforms.

Learn all you can learn.

Learn the fundamental principles; applications will follow.

Let the offshore companies train their own engineers.

Look at the demand of your chosen discipline before starting school so you will have a job when finished.

Look to systems, industrial, electrical engineering (EE) or computer engineering to develop into automation engineer.

Make sure you’re always learning something; if not, move on. Share your knowledge with others.

Never stop learning; read, take courses, experiment, and keep a journal.

Never stop learning and being open to new ideas. Constantly blend the tried and true with newer technologies. Don’t become complacent in your position. Continue to innovate.

Pursue co-op/work study/internship opportunities.

Regardless of your original degree, become as multi-disciplined as possible while working toward your PE license.

School is important, but getting an internship and meeting people are better.

Self study is critical.

Stay current in latest technology changes and software.

To get certified in the products you use day-to-day is important.


Workplace strategies

Ask for mentoring and help, early and often. Learn early so that you don’t have to figure all of it out by yourself.

Avoid large corporations; work for a small company. There are job security risks, but job satisfaction will be much higher.

Be prepared to move around to several different employers during your career.

Do it when you are young.

Don’t be afraid to fail; encourage operator growth.

Engineering is a good, solid, long-term career with opportunities and security.


Find what you like to do and become the best at it. Then your job is basically your hobby and not a drag. I have had it that way for most of my working life. However, jobs do change. You have to be ready to adapt.

Finish what you start.

Get an engineering degree and use it with a willingness to work hard.

Good job descriptions.

Learn all aspects of your plant.

Learn all you can; meet deadlines.

Like what you do and do what you like or else you will not be all in, and your work and employer will suffer.

Persist with a career in engineering, focusing on in-demand skills.

Pick your first job carefully; don’t settle.

Stay in either the medical or technical industries because of definite growth potential.

Stay the course but also pay attention to non-engineering learning like macro and micro economics.

Stay with a company that pays good wages and has good benefits and retirement.

Take a job that makes you feel you are accomplishing something and are happy doing; if not move on.

Take all the travel and job responsibilities you can while young.

Think inside the box because everyone is trying to think outside the box.

You need a formal education to get in the door; then do your best at the interview, and don’t give up until you get the job you’re looking for. It helps to do some research into the company prior to the interview and ask questions when you have the opportunity to show that you are truly interested. 


Be flexible to industry changes.

Engineering is absorbing and time consuming but also gives great feeling of accomplishment when projects are finished.

Experience and involvement.

Find a position that you like to perform and do it well and enjoy it.

Hang on; it’s upward and onward from here!

Hold on for a bumpy ride.

Keep trying.

Patience is the key. Sometimes the market goes low, but we have to be patient.

Stay flexible and active. 


Due to my longevity with the company and breadth of knowledge, I share my skills and working knowledge of the company systems and products for any existing and new employees.

Engineering is a great career. For the guys, there are girls now! For the ladies, it is wide open for you!

Whoever you are, please work on your people skills. Schools aren’t going to make you do this, but you will be miles ahead if you do.

Good technical skills provide a good foundation but to excel develop your people skills. Learn how to work, and work with all types of people.

Learn soft skills such as presenting or communicating. Become a subject matter expert.

Soft skills can’t be overvalued.

Take care of the details, and listen to your team! 

Project management

Become a guru at automating your own processes.

Do your best to identify your customers’ problems and develop practical solutions that can be implemented by and with your customers.

If you’re technical, be technical. If you have a business-oriented mind, seek project management roles initially.

Learn how to program so you can communicate with programmers. No matter what type of engineering, project, or process management you are involved in, ultimately you will be interfacing with and depending on programmers. You need to be able to frame specifications, issues, questions, etc., in ways that provide programmers with the info and detail to effectively implement your vision.

Look at the big picture.

Build teams that you can trust.

Project management needs to be more experienced in negotiating contract costs.

Engineering tips

  • Automation and controls, manufacturing IT, instrumentation, maintenance, and systems
  • Electronic engineering, industrial engineering, food engineering, alternative energy engineering
  • Learn the technology to develop adequate skills to perform engineering analysis, design, evaluation, and implementation.

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