3 answers

How can I decide what field of engineering is best to pursue if I don't know which one I prefer?


3 answers

Ani’s Answer

Updated San Francisco, California

Kendyll, that is a great question and a very common question. I appreciate your decision to build something and change the world in a better way. Most of the engineering schools have common courses for all engineering majors in the first 2 years and the last years is where you decide what major you want to specialize in.

First thing is to educate yourself with the various majors within engineering. Following is one good resource I recommend going through:


If you need more information on any particular major, you can use Google or WikiPedia.

For all engineering majors, having a solid foundational knowledge of math and science is very helpful.

Once you get a basis idea about the various majors, you should be able to shortlist few of the majors you would like. Again let's say if you get into a college into Mechanical Engineering and you figure out 1 or 2 years into your college that you like some other major, you can always make a switch by meeting the pre-requisites. The switching might delay your graduation slightly, but you will graduate in a major that you can see yourself working in future happily. All the best.

Peter’s Answer

Updated Kent, Washington


Your question implies that you are interested in pursuing engineering as a profession, which is admirable. The answer, above, gives some good advice for exploring your engineering options. To prepare for the profession, you will apply to and then enter an engineering college. Much of your first two years will be taken up with attending beginning classes in a variety of engineering disciplines. From this you will get direct experience with a number of different engineering fields. You will have ample opportunity to talk with professors from various disciplines. Hopefully at least one of these disciplines will appeal to you. You can then confidently enter that discipline in your Junior Year, reasonably assured you have enjoy an interesting and fascinating career.

Keep in mind that there will always be opportunities to pursue other disciplines later in your career if your interest in another Field should arise. Professionals commonly change their field of expertise partway through their careers. For instance, although I majored in Molecular Biology as an Undergraduate, I ended up as a Civil Engineer specializing in Hydrology for a Career.

Good Luck, Pete Sturtevant, PE

Peter recommends the following next steps:

  • Get into a good engineering college

Ken’s Answer

Updated Cleveland, Ohio

Congratulations on being interested in finding the right career to follow.. It takes a special person to enter into a specific career field and meet the demands which that career area presents. The first step is to get to know yourself to see if you share the personality traits which make one successful in that area. The next step is doing networking to meet and talk to and possibly shadow people doing what you might think that you want to do to see if this is something that you really want to do, as a career area could look much different on the inside than it looks from the outside.  When I was doing college recruiting, I encountered too many students, who skipped these important steps, and ended up in a career/job for which they were ill suited.

Ken recommends the following next steps:

  • The first step is to take an interest and aptitude test and have it interpreted by your school counselor to see if you share the personality traits necessary to enter the field. You might want to do this again upon entry into college, as the interpretation might differ slightly due to the course offering of the school. However, do not wait until entering college, as the information from the test will help to determine the courses that you take in high school. Too many students, due to poor planning, end up paying for courses in college which they could have taken for free in high school.
  • Next, when you have the results of the testing, talk to the person at your high school and college who tracks and works with graduates to arrange to talk to, visit, and possibly shadow people doing what you think that you might want to do, so that you can get know what they are doing and how they got there. Here are some tips: ## http://www.wikihow.com/Network ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/nonawkward-ways-to-start-and-end-networking-conversations ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-questions-to-ask-your-network-besides-can-you-get-me-a-job?ref=carousel-slide-1 ##
  • Locate and attend meetings of professional associations to which people who are doing what you think that you want to do belong, so that you can get their advice. These associations may offer or know of intern, coop, shadowing, and scholarship opportunities. These associations are the means whereby the professionals keep abreast of their career area following college and advance in their career. You can locate them by asking your school academic advisor, favorite teachers, and the reference librarian at your local library. Here are some tips: ## https://www.careeronestop.org/BusinessCenter/Toolkit/find-professional-associations.aspx?&frd=true ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-tips-for-navigating-your-first-networking-event ##
  • It is very important to express your appreciation to those who help you along the way to be able to continue to receive helpful information and to create important networking contacts along the way. Here are some good tips: ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-informational-interview-thank-you-note-smart-people-know-to-send?ref=recently-published-2 ## ## https://www.themuse.com/advice/3-tips-for-writing-a-thank-you-note-thatll-make-you-look-like-the-best-candidate-alive?bsft_eid=7e230cba-a92f-4ec7-8ca3-2f50c8fc9c3c&bsft_pid=d08b95c2-bc8f-4eae-8618-d0826841a284&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily_20171020&utm_source=blueshift&utm_content=daily_20171020&bsft_clkid=edfe52ae-9e40-4d90-8e6a-e0bb76116570&bsft_uid=54658fa1-0090-41fd-b88c-20a86c513a6c&bsft_mid=214115cb-cca2-4aec-aa86-92a31d371185&bsft_pp=2 ##
  • Here are some links that will allow you to become more familiar with the many opportunities within the area of engineering. ## https://www.engineergirl.org/ ## ## http://www.futureengineers.org/ ## ## https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43zVcmTJSKM ## ## http://stemtosteam.org/ ## ## https://www.asme.org/career-education/articles/undergraduate-students/engineering-still-needs-more-women ##