An effective career plan can guide your professional life as an engineer successfully, from finding your first role within an engineering organization to enjoying a long and rewarding engineering career.
Setting career goals early on in your engineering career can help you to evaluate your options as an engineer and produce a career development plan to help you achieve them.
A career plan can also help you to stay focused when things get tough.
In this article, we explain how to create a career plan and share the key five steps that you should consider when writing your plan.
What is a career plan?
A career plan is a list of steps. that you can take to accomplish your engineering career goals in the future. It helps you in understanding what engineering jobs you may want to pursue, what new skills and knowledge are required for your personal development if you need any support, and devise a strategy for career success and long-term personal growth.
Developing a career plan can help put you on the right path for your future as it allows you to prepare to make important decisions throughout your career. For example, if you want to lead a successful engineering team, you may consider people management courses.
Ideally, your career plan should act as a motivating tool by breaking down a long journey into smaller steps that are easier to execute.
How to write a career development plan for engineers
Learn about potential career options
The first and most important step to creating an engineer’s career plan is understanding what career path you’re interested in pursuing. Think about the talents and skills you have, what projects you typically enjoy working on as well as any expertise you may have.
Ask managers, colleagues, and other engineers about their careers to understanding what knowledge you may need to develop and consider researching some different companies too. Try to also find networking events or set up informational interviews with other engineering teams so that you can ask questions about the skills required to get into that field of work.
A list of careers that might interest you as an engineer are:
- Engineering manager
- Senior engineer
- Company director
Identify careers that match your expertise
You may feel comfortable in a job that matches the skills you have learned during your time in education or throughout your career. For example, if you have been working in aerospace and excel at solving problems, you could consider a career in aerospace engineering.
You should also think about the soft skills you possess. Soft skills are behaviours that make you a good fit for a specific job role. For example, if you are great at inspiring and motivating others, then an engineering management role could be something you’d excel at. Consider writing a list of all the skills you have and what industries attract you as this will help you to decide where you want your career path to take you.
The better you understand what it is you’re good at and what you enjoy, the easier it will be to put together a set of engineering career goals.
Set long term goals
If you are unsure what your career goals are at this stage, think about where you might like to be a few years from now – what type of progress would you like to have made? How about in 10 years’ time? Consider sitting down with your manager to discuss how they got where they are and if there are any other teams or projects they think you would be a good fit for.
This will help you to understand what aspects of your career you like and excel at so that you can write down where you might like your career to take you.
Setting SMART goals is an effective way to help you achieve your engineering career goals:
Be clear about what you want to achieve
How will you know if you have achieved your goal?
Don’t set yourself up for failure
Make sure that your goal is relevant to you
Setting a deadline for your goal matters as it helps you to focus and stay accountable
Keep a record of your plan
Once you have decided on your chosen career path and set SMART goals, write down your plan so that you can regularly reference and manage it. Having a career plan written down can help you stay on top of the engineering roles that you’re working towards.
You can create a timeline to keep on top of any time-based goals and you can tick off goals when they have been achieved.
Review and adjust your plan
As an individual contributor to your plan, you can revise and make tweaks to it as and when you need to. Great opportunities may arise that require tweaking your goals or schedule.
By keeping your plan up-to-date, you can keep track of any changes you need to make to help you stay accountable, organised and prepared for your goals.
Reviewing your plan will help you to develop your understanding of your career and also help you decide whether or not you need to change your goals or put more effort into achieving them.