pros and cons of engineering

The Pros and Cons of an Engineering Career

November 24, 2023 - Ellie Gabel

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Do you dream of sending probes to Mars? How about designing artificial joints or drafting plans for an urban green space? There are so many types of engineering jobs that it’s hard to make a blanket statement about the field as a whole. In general, however, there are several pros and cons of engineering you can expect to encounter across the board. Here are a few to consider. 


Let’s start with the bad news and then end on a high note. Here are some cons of engineering jobs:

  1. Time and Financial Commitment

Unlike becoming an artist or starting your own business, you usually can’t get an engineering job without a formal degree. Earning an engineering degree takes serious dedication, studying and time, usually on the order of four to five years in college. 

Depending on where you go to school and whether you get a scholarship, this process can be very expensive. However, remember that engineering is generally a high-paying industry, so you’ll probably recoup the cost of tuition quickly once you graduate. 

  1. Continuing Education

Engineering is on the cutting edge of science and technology. As such, lifelong learning is a crucial part of being a successful engineer. 

This might sound frustrating — after all, you already went to school for several years and earned a formal degree. Why do you have to keep studying? However, continual learning helps you stay competitive and grow in your capabilities. A lot of the learning you do won’t come from a book, but rather from the projects you work on and the soft skills you pick up along the way. 

  1. High Expectations

Engineers work with tight deadlines. Even on longer-term projects, you’ll have short-term milestones you have to hit to stay on track. 

However, if you thrive on stress and do some of your best work when you have a deadline looming, engineering is probably a great fit. After all, a calm job is often a boring job! Having to complete projects on time can make you more productive and keep you feeling engaged at work.

  1. Layoffs and Oversaturated Markets

In the long run, engineering is one of the most important industries. After all, it’s responsible for advancing society by introducing new technologies, designing structures and achieving medical breakthroughs. 

In a recession or emergency, however, engineers are often some of the first people to be let go. That’s because engineers are typically high earners who don’t provide immediate benefits to society — not, at least, in the same way a grocery store stocker, gas station attendant or farmer does. In some countries, the engineering market is already saturated and it’s very hard to find a job in the first place.

But, don’t give up your dream of becoming an engineer. Engineering is such a diverse field that if you do happen to lose your job, there are usually many others available. You can also broaden your job search to look for positions in other countries that need engineers.


Now for the positives:

  1. Salary

One of the biggest benefits of an engineering career is the pay. Shortly after college, for example, chemical engineers earn a median salary of $75,000, bringing home a mid-career median wage of $120,000 a year. Although money isn’t everything, earning a comfortable salary will make certain aspects of your life dramatically easier. 

  1. Job Stability

Engineers will always be in high demand. As long as there are highrises to build, airplane turbines to attach and chemicals to manufacture, the world will need engineers. Therefore, engineering generally comes with good job stability in the long run. 

  1. Working With a Team

This one can be a pro or con depending on your personality. Engineers rarely work in isolation — it’s far more common for them to work on a team consisting of interns, senior engineers and junior engineers. Collaborating on projects makes it easy to ask questions and work through problems with your teammates. Having a supportive team can also motivate you to put forth your best effort at work. 

  1. Problem-Solving Opportunities

If you quickly get bored of repetition, an engineering job might be a good choice for you. You’ll work on many different projects over the course of your career, and no two days will be exactly the same. Engineering lets you get paid to exercise your mind and solve real problems.

  1. Multiple Career Paths

One of the biggest pros of going into engineering is that you have many different career choices available. 

For instance, you could become a robotics engineer, an industry with a 27.7% growth rate expected to be worth almost $150 billion by 2030. You could go into biomedical engineering and design artificial organs or prosthetics. As a clean energy engineer, you could help the world combat climate change by designing hydrogen fuel cells. No matter which industry interests you the most, there is almost certainly an engineering job in that field. 

  1. Skill Development

During your time earning your engineering degree, you pick up a lot of skills that come in handy in the real world — problem-solving, creativity, communication and practical abilities, to name a few. But once you become a practicing engineer, you also hone your discipline, focus, leadership and time management skills. The learning never stops, and you’ll be a better person because of it. 

  1. Work Satisfaction

Few careers are as gratifying as engineering. Hands-on, deliberate problem-solving can be very rewarding, giving you something to look forward to at work. 

By applying your knowledge of math and physics to real challenges, you’ll directly contribute to the advancement of society. Building bridges, repairing rocket engines and bioengineering new drugs are just a few ways engineers positively affect the world. You can go to work every day knowing you’re making a real difference. 

The Choice Is Yours

Like any job, there are several pros and cons of engineering. In general, however, many people find that the good outweighs the bad. If you’re thinking about a career in engineering, consider your options carefully and decide how the job would mesh with your lifestyle. You just might realize it’s the perfect fit. 

Revolutionized is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn more here.


Ellie Gabel

Ellie Gabel is a science writer specializing in astronomy and environmental science and is the Associate Editor of Revolutionized. Ellie's love of science stems from reading Richard Dawkins books and her favorite science magazines as a child, where she fell in love with the experiments included in each edition.

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