Engineering encompasses a broad range of fields that generally involve designing, developing, installing or repairing buildings, equipment, devices, tools and products. While common stereotypes do exist in the engineering ranks, contemporary engineers must often possess qualities and attributes that go against these stereotypes to succeed in many employment settings.
A predominant stereotype of engineers is that they are men. While women have made strides in many engineering fields, an April 2012 report from the Congressional Joint Economic Committee indicated that women comprise only 14 percent of all engineers. Jobs and opportunities for women do exist, but you may still deal with peculiar looks from friends, family and other engineers when you tell them your profession.
Similar to accountants, engineers are notoriously viewed as exceptionally analytical, often reclusive personality types. Albert Einstein was generally regarded as fitting this persona. However, even Einstein commented on the importance of creativity in engineering and innovation. Contemporary engineers must actually combine analytical and creative abilities to solve new problems and to come up with innovative products and solutions. Self-employed engineers must especially balance these qualities to operate an effective business.
Another common perception is that engineers prefer autonomy in their work. While some might choose independent work when possible, engineering professionals find fewer career opportunities that don't involve some aspects of teamwork. In many cases, engineers collaborate with assistants, designers and production managers to ensure development is in line with their employer's or client's needs. Engineers also commonly interact directly with clients or buyers to ensure that equipment and tools are developed in line with stated parameters.
Undoubtedly, you need a high level of intelligence to succeed in a demanding career like engineering. Some of the most prominent engineers throughout history have contributed to the perception that all engineers have genius-level intelligence. While brains are a plus in engineering, extreme smartness can potentially impede abilities to follow directions and collaborate in employment settings. In some cases, intellectual engineers want to venture off on their own to create goods or solve problems, which may cause them to stray from job or project requirements.
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.