13 Best Second Careers for Engineers

13 Best Second Careers for Engineers

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A career change is a challenging transition for any professional, but the process can be even trickier to navigate for engineers who’ve invested an exceptional amount of time and effort into mastering their craft. Luckily, transitioning into a new career for an ex-engineer can be quite easy as long as you have the right tools and knowledge at your disposal. 

In this article, we have gathered a few career options in which engineering skills would be most transferable. Luckily, an engineering degree equips you with a wide array of technical and personal skills, so chances are you’ll be able to find an alternative that is perfectly suited to you and your requirements.

1. Engineering Professor

  • Average Salary: $93,000 per year (on average).
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 310 engineering professor jobs are available on Salarship

If you still love engineering on a theoretical level but hate the demanding nature of the profession itself, you can always go into academics. However, if this is a field you’re interested in, you have to get moving fast, as you’ll need an advanced degree before you can start teaching.

Moreover, keep in mind that even though you’ll be dealing with the same subject, the skills required to succeed as an engineer are completely different from those required of a university professor. Therefore, before jumping into the transition, you want to make sure you have the soft skills you’ll need to properly communicate your extensive knowledge to your students.

Requirements

  • You should have a minimum of a doctorate (Ph.D.) in the field you want to teach.
  • Preferred: Previous research experience as a research assistant or research scientist.
  • Preferred: Previous teaching experience as a teaching assistant.

2. Actuary

  • Average Salary: $111,000 per year.
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 154 actuary jobs are available on Salarship

An actuary is someone hired specifically to think strategically and solve problems using mathematical skills. As an engineer constantly used to calculating risk and finding strategically thought-out solutions, this is an excellent career alternative for you to consider.

In most cases, actuaries are hired by businesses looking to optimize their operations and increase their revenue. However, as the economy becomes more unpredictable by the day, more and more independent employers are warming up to the idea of paying someone to come up with calculated solutions to help them navigate the dynamic environment they’re facing.

Requirements

  • A Bachelor’s degree in engineering fields or in mathematics is sufficient.
  • Get an actuarial certificate.

3. Patent Attorney

  • Average Salary: $150,000 per year (on average).
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 9 patent attorney jobs are available on Salarship

If lucrative pay is what you’re after, I highly recommend considering becoming a patent attorney. Even though it is a challenging career to get into, once you do, it’s smooth sailing. You’ll be helping clients (mainly researchers and organizations) obtain a patent for their designs and inventions.

By working as a patent attorney, you will be guaranteed to make a 6-figure salary and be able to constantly come in contact with new, exciting innovations. As a result, your work life will instantly become much more exciting and fulfilling.

Requirements

  • Required: Pass the state bar exam and the patent bar exam to be able to practice.
  • Preferred: Have a science or engineering degree.

4. Web Developer

  • Average Salary: $71,000 per year (on average).
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 178 web developer jobs are available on Salarship

The two options I’m about to delve into also require a bit of an IT background, so if you don’t have these skills, keep in mind that a few courses might be in order.

Web developers are professionals who get paid to build websites for individuals and businesses alike. The current industry pay for web developers is excellent; however, the training and certifications required for you to become one will be much more challenging to obtain than those necessary to become a graphic designer.

Job Information

  • Salary: $71,000 per year (on average).
  • Training time: a few months.
  • Workload: at least 20 hours per week.

5. Technical Writer

  • Salary: $35 per hour.
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 104 technical writer jobs are available on Salarship

If you want to make a quicker career transition, you can always try technical writing. While the salary might not be as competitive as what you’d get from some of the other options on this list, it’s still decent pay and the work itself is far less straining and demanding than you might’ve been used to.

Best of all, technical writing doesn’t require an ounce of creativity, as you’ll mostly be writing instructional articles and manuals or preparing technical reports. Therefore, your engineering background is not wasted when it comes to building a successful career as a technical writer.

Requirements

  • Some technical writing jobs require candidates to have knowledge of a technical field, such as engineering or computer science.
  • Excellent writing skills.

6. Quantitative Analyst

  • Average Salary: $108,000 per year (on average).
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 22 quantitative analyst jobs are available on Salarship

If you still want to work with businesses and help optimize their performance but are not confident in your communication and leadership skills, you can always become a quantitative analyst.

The job entails applying analytical mathematical and statistical methods in finance and investment management. Quantitative analysts look at trends, predict behavior and assess risks.

Depending on your experience and skill set, salaries for this position can vary; however, chances are you’ll be able to break the 6-figure mark.

Requirements

  • Have excellent analytics, statistics, and mathematics skills.
  • Preferred: Earn a master’s degree in mathematical finance.

7. AI Developer

  • Average Salary: $125,000 per year (on average).
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 13 ai developer jobs are available on Salarship

Artificial intelligence is one of the fastest-growing industries on the market, and as you can tell by the lucrative pay, there’s a lot of money circulating in the field. However, working as an AI developer is no easy feat, and having the knowledge of fundamental engineering principles is just one of the requirements to get started in such a career.

Requirements

  • Extensive knowledge about data science, computer science, linear algebra, and statistics.

8. Engineering Consultant

  • Average Salary: $130,000 per year (on average).
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 71 engineering consultant jobs are available on Salarship

If pursuing higher education seems like too much of a hassle, you can always go into consulting. Companies, independent entrepreneurs, and even governments are constantly looking for engineering consultants to provide them with recommendations and solutions to their design tasks and problems.

In fact, I’d argue that this is one of the simplest transitions you can make. Many of the facets of an engineering career are similar to that of a consultant. You’ll still be working on projects using the same knowledge and skills you’ve been mastering for years. You’ll also have to deal with a dynamic work environment as you work with different clients presenting unique issues.

Therefore, if you don’t have a lot of time and money to lose, I highly recommend looking into consulting.

Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree in engineering.
  • Proven portfolio of completed projects.
  • 5+ years experience as an engineer.

9. Security Service Specialist

  • Salary: $25 per hour.
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 15 security service specialist jobs are available on Salarship

Police forces and private security agencies are constantly looking for professionals of all backgrounds to lend their skills and expertise to prevent cyber (and physical) crimes.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a more challenging and exciting career path, working as a security service specialist might be the best way to make use of your talents.

Requirements

  • Preferred: Degree in criminal science, criminal justice, sociology, or a related field.

10. Graphic Designer

  • Salary: $25 per hour.
  • Workload: 92% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 503 graphic designer jobs are available on Salarship

This might seem like a big career jump, but graphic design and engineering are much more similar than you’d think. As the demand for graphic designers goes through the roof, many professionals with engineering or architectural backgrounds are making the switch.

You can easily translate your engineering experience into graphic design if you have the right computer skills. Even if you don’t, IT courses are usually quick and relatively affordable, so if you can spare the time, this option is definitely worth looking into.

You’ll mainly want to focus on mastering Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. After that, it’s a smooth ride of putting your technical knowledge, experience, and trained eye to good use.

Requirements

  • Required: A strong portfolio of logos, illustrations, or other graphics
  • Preferred: Familiarity with design software (such as InDesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Photoshop)

11. Business Manager

  • Average Salary: $84,000 per year (on average).
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • Medium Demand: 8,442 business manager jobs are available on Salarship

If leadership roles don’t attract you and you’re looking for a less demanding position, you can still navigate the world of business by becoming a manager. Again, you’d be surprised how many of the soft and hard skills you’ve obtained through your engineering experience can also be applied as a business manager.

Your job would be to help identify progress, oversee product launches, and use your analytical thinking skills to help optimize your business’ performance. Even if you lack some of the communication skills required in this type of profession, these can easily be acquired as you gather more experience.

Requirements

  • Proven experience with business and strategy development processes.
  • Preferred: Bachelor’s degree in business, management, or related field.

12. Mobile Developer

  • Average Salary: $123,000 per year (on average).
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 55 mobile developer jobs are available on Salarship

The premise of this career is similar to that of a web developer, only this time, you’ll be working on applications and software for mobile devices. Again, your engineering background won’t suffice if you want to become a professional mobile developer. Therefore, you’ll have to undergo a training process and obtain its respective certification before applying for open positions in this industry.

On the upside, the career itself can be very stimulating and fulfilling, and your engineering background will still be put to good use. You can work with brands and help them develop their own applications, or you can work directly with phone manufacturers to help them optimize their software – the possibilities are vast.

Requirements

  • Maths knowledge for understanding programming.
  • Preferred: Bachelor’s degree in computer science.

13. Digital Marketer

  • Average Salary: $58,500 per year (on average).
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 4,816 digital marketer jobs are available on Salarship

I only recommend looking into digital marketing as a second career option if you’re looking to steer as far away as possible from your previous occupation. The pay is low, and many of your acquired talents and skills won’t be translatable to your new profession. However, if you’re looking to venture into a new industry, this is the way to go.

Keep in mind that even though the average annual salary is still on the low end of the spectrum, the industry is booming, and there’s always space to make more, especially if you start your own digital marketing agency. Becoming a successful digital marketer requires a bit of research and forethought, so keep that in mind when choosing your new career.

Requirements

  • Data analysis skills.
  • Creativity.


How To Choose a New Career Path as an Ex-Engineer

Before diving into the 15 best second careers for engineers and the characteristics that make them suitable for someone with such a background, I want to equip you with the necessary knowledge to sort through such a wide array of options.

When transitioning into a new career path, you want to be 100% certain that you’re making the right choice. After all, you can only afford so many drastic changes and pivots in your professional life before they start negatively affecting your career and earning potential.

For this reason, rather than randomly choosing a profession that seems to spark even the faintest interest, you want to take a few steps to ensure that you have a clear vision of what you’re looking for out of this career transition.

Here’s how to choose a new career path as an ex-engineer.

  1. Perform a self-assessment test to learn more about the field you’re most compatible with. Most college graduates choose their career path at 18 or 19, which means their choice is likely based on societal expectations and pressures rather than their actual skills and interests. A self-assessment test will help you narrow down your search and only consider careers you’re actually compatible with. 
  2. Prepare for a long and challenging process. A self-assessment test is only the first step to transitioning into a new career. The process can’t directly guide you to your choice; it will just allow you to narrow down the fields you might be interested in by evaluating your strengths and weaknesses. You want to be mentally prepared for a long, challenging journey. If you’re expecting a shortcut, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise.
  3. Research the disciplines that spark your interest. Now that you have a better understanding of the fields you’d be most compatible with and are going in with the right mindset; you can start researching the disciplines that draw you in the most to find out more about your possibilities. Look up starting and average salaries, market demand, work hours, benefits and drawbacks, etc.
  4. Determine your time and financial limits. Even though a particular career might seem ideal for you, that doesn’t mean that it will be achievable. If you’re straying away from your original specialty too much, you might need to invest additional time and money into re-training, something you won’t always be able to afford.
  5. Explore with low expectations. Now that you have your priorities, requirements, and limits all figured out, you can start exploring in search of further information. For example, you can reach out to a recruiter and even perform a few informal interviews. However, during this process, keep in mind that you’re just starting out and keep your expectations low–the main purpose is to learn more. 
  6. Expand your network. As you explore and discover more about where your interests lie, it might be a good idea to start expanding your network. Now that you’re transitioning into a new industry, your old contacts might not be able to take you as far in the career you’re interested in pursuing. Therefore, remember to form connections and network as you go–you never know what opportunities may arise!
  7. Keep your standards high. When exploring, you might come across a few lucrative opportunities that aren’t quite right for you. For example, they might require excessive work hours or might be too stressful for you to handle. If that’s the case, remember your priorities and standards, and never allow yourself to be drawn in by lucrative pay. Otherwise, you might find yourself back to square one after a few years of misery.