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What Should Engineers Do if Engineering isn't 'Right' Anymore?

By John R. Platt

If you decide that the life of an R&D researcher or computer programmer isn't for you, your engineering education can still come in handy.

1. Management

Companies will always need people who understand technology but who also have knowledge of business theory and the ability to lead. On the flip side, engineers rely upon managers who truly "get" their needs and their projects. Your engineering education and background can help you to understand the tough concepts that engineers might otherwise have trouble communicating to their immediate superiors. Many engineering managers come from the ranks, but if you want to start climbing the corporate ladder early, this could be an excellent career path.

2. Technology Journalism

Trade magazines will always need excellent writers who can write about technology in ways that both experts and laypeople can understand. Magazine publishing is increasingly geared toward specific niches, so developing your skills writing about a technology can make you invaluable to editors whether you are looking for freelance writing assignments or a staff position.

3. Marketing and Public Relations

What is the unique selling proposition of a technology? Sometimes technology people themselves have trouble communicating what makes their product or discovery so exciting. Your base knowledge of technology could give you an edge in technology marketing and public relations and help your client to extend the reach of their innovations.

4. Systems and Personnel Support

Sometimes, people in the sciences just need someone to connect the dots for them, to make sure that all of their networks are running properly, to file their paperwork, or make sure they show up for important events on time and fully prepared. Knowing how these people think and what they need will help you to stay one step ahead of them and give them the freedom necessary to devote their full brainpower to their technology research.

5. Teaching

Teaching science and technology on the college level usually requires a greater commitment to research and ongoing innovation. But teaching science on the grade-school or high-school level could help to prepare tomorrow's innovators for their careers.

6. Other Fields

When it all comes down to it, engineering skills boil down to mathematics, creativity, and an understanding of physical science. These basic principles could lead you into fields related to, complementary to, or similar to engineering. With a little bit of additional training, you could find yourself working in environmental science, architecture, forensics, biology, architecture or any number of related fields.

John R. Platt is a freelance writer and marketing consultant who often writes about technology, entrepreneurship, and the environment.

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