Planning To Become an Engineer Someday? See the Path to Success.

Are you interested in potentially working in engineering one day? Did you know that you can take courses while you’re still in high school? Read on to discover what engineering is, types of subspecialties within the field, average wage, engineering camps, and what steps you should take to someday become an engineer. 

What is Engineering

Engineering refers to any type of science concerned with the design, construction, and use of machines, systems, and structures. It's a vast field that has applications in nearly every industry, from manufacturing and production to shipping and construction. Engineers of various types were likely involved in the home you live in, the building where you study, the bridges you drive over, and the products that you buy. If you’re interested in problem solving, experimentation, and machine development, a career in engineering may suit you.

Statistics About Engineering

According to Zippia, there are currently over 228,911 engineers employed in the U.S. 13.7% of all engineers are women, while 86.3% are men. Interestingly, Zippia also reported that women made 103% higher wages than their male counterparts in 2022. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment growth for engineers, with nearly 140,000 new jobs expected for engineers by 2026. And, according to, engineers made an impressive average salary of $100,356 in 2023. 

Engineering is one of the broadest fields of study, and the exact skills and duties of an engineer can vary depending on the field in which you specialize. Some of the main types of engineering fields include:

  • Chemical engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Mechanical engineering

For entry-level engineering jobs, you typically must have a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline that’s related to the type of work you plan to do. Additional education or licensure may be needed for advancing in this field. 

Getting practical experience while in college, such as by completing an internship or participating in a cooperative engineering program, also is recommended. But you can start to prepare for an engineering career as early as high school by taking classes such as trigonometry, calculus, and physics at your high school. Even better, there are many renowned universities across the country that offer engineering enrichment courses tailored especially for high school students.

Pre-College Online Courses with Leading Universities

The University of Rochester, a Prelum partner, is one example. The Rochester Pre-College Online Program offers students 13 and older the opportunity to experience a pre-college biomedical engineering course. Biomedical Engineering: Solving The Body’s Challenges With Technology demonstrates the application of engineering tools and techniques to address problems in medicine and biology. 

And Case Western University’s Online Pre-College Program is distinguished by an engineering course for high schoolers called Engineering: From 2D Sketch To 3D Model. In this course, you’ll explore how to take your ideas and bring them to life, through 2D sketching and 3D modeling all the way through 3D printing. 

Genome engineering (or genome editing) is defined as the targeted modification of DNA within living organisms. Genome Engineering: Changing the Future of Medicine, a pre-college engineering course offered by Rice University, allows you to delve into genome engineering and how the human genome can be edited to treat diseases, such as hereditary blood disorders. If you seek to find a program that targets engineering and medicine, this would be a great choice. 

So what other steps does it take to become an engineer?

While this is a lot to grasp, here is a handy infographic that lays out the steps to becoming an engineer for you.

Steps to Becoming an Engineer. Take one of the pre-college online courses centering on engineering. Select a school that specializes in your field of engineering. The schools with top programs might be difficult to get into. This is another great reason to try out pre-college online courses: it looks great on your applications! Center study on engineering-relevant courses in STEM. Discuss class options with your advisor. Take advantage of university programs that connect you with relevant experience: internships, job shadowing, and networking opportunities. Apply for internships after 1-2 years of school.  Do a practicum (a work opportunity that replaces or takes up a significant portion of your final year). Earn a bachelor's degree in your specific area of engineering. Find work opportunities through your network or online. Take and pass the NCEES FE exam (an engineering workforce entrance exam). Work within the field.  Take and pass the PE exam, which is a specific engineering exam for your discipline (4 years into your professional career).

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