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Congratulations! After four (or more) long years of late night study groups and cramming for finals, you’ve graduated with a degree in engineering – one of the most lucrative occupational fields today. You probably would like to forget all the homework and tests for a while, but don’t wait too long. Your greatest opportunities for job placement, career advancement, and personal satisfaction depend on continuing your engineering education as a lifelong learner.
Thankfully, you don’t need to go back to college to keep up with ever-evolving technology. Through continuing education courses you can learn about artificial intelligence, virtual reality (VR), robotics & automation, and 3D printing, which are revolutionizing engineering design, construction, and manufacturing.
Industry 4.0 will be the next Industrial Revolution, using Big Data, advanced analytics, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and the Internet of Things (IoT). As companies go through a complete digital transformation, they will require engineers to keep up to date through courses in the latest data management and cybersecurity skills.
The need to learn quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) principles applies to every engineering field. And Lean & Agile organizations want employees to learn advanced methods, such as Kanban, Scrum, Kaizen and Kaikaku.
In order to progress in your engineering career, you may choose to become a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) to help your organization meet its goals and complete projects on time and on budget. After passing the PMP exam, you must earn 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) in continuing education courses every three years.
Building engineers interested in sustainability may want to work towards the LEED AP accreditation for green building design principles and practices. Architectural engineers may pursue the CDT, CCS, or CCCA certifications for administering and specifying construction contracts.
One of the most common engineering education paths after college is pursuing a Professional Engineer (PE) license through your state’s licensure board. This valuable designation is a legal requirement for engineers who sign and seal engineering plans submitted to any private client or governmental authority.
The purpose for the PE license is to protect life, health and property in areas such as transportation, energy, environmental protection, and water & wastewater treatment. Some states also require that professors or teachers of engineering be licensed as well.
According to the National Society of Professional Engineers, there are four steps to earning the PE seal:
However, receiving the PE license is only the beginning of a lifelong path of maintaining and improving your skills through your state board’s continuing education requirements.
For example, the state of Virginia requires PEs to earn 16 Professional Development Hours (PDH) every two years to renew the license. These can include courses in business practices, such as communication skills, project management, risk management, ethics, and quality, as well as specific engineering skills.
As part of your job, your employer may require you to pursue a certain number of continuing education hours per year and may provide compensation for the cost and the time spent in classes. Some companies offer their own courses on site, or they may fund travel to class locations around the world. Often you can sign up for seminars and courses held at the same time as professional conferences and meetings.
With today’s technology, there is a multitude of distance learning methods for continuing your engineering education. You can earn PDHs and Continuing Education Units (CEUs) through online courses and webinars given by training and professional organizations. Many colleges and universities offer continuing education courses online in addition to their regular academic courses.
With the accelerated pace of evolution in all areas of technology, keeping up through continuing engineering education becomes essential to your career and your personal satisfaction — and benefits your company as well. What will you learn in your next course?