The Specialized Work of Six Types of Engineers

There are many fields of engineering. In this article, we focus on the specialized work of six types of engineers.

working at a desk - six types of engineers

What do engineers do?

Engineers are professionals who research, design, build, test, sustain, and analyze materials, structures, and products. Their goal is to offer safe, functional, and economic solutions to technical problems.

In doing so, engineers must also balance safety, regulatory, and practicality limitations with functionality and cost requirements. An engineer’s job is to design and build practical and economic solutions using the principles of science and mathematics. 

The work of an engineer bridges the gap between scientific discoveries and commercial applications by integrating engineering technologies with business solutions. In many cases, these breakthroughs improve the overall conditions for society. Engineers sometimes work alongside scientific researchers. This helps to collect data and important information used to design and build technical solutions.

What does it take to become a professional engineer?

The basic qualification of an engineer is a four-year bachelor’s degree in engineering. This can vary depending on which kind of engineering discipline is pursued.

You can also take a master’s program that’s designed to deepen and expand the knowledge within an engineering discipline. It usually takes two years to get a master’s degree while a doctorate’s degree takes five to seven years. This would be for people who are interested in pursuing engineering research and education. 

Usually, pursuing a career as a professional engineer requires a professional license to perform your duties legally. The license would specify your discipline. For example civil, industrial, chemical, electrical, or mechanical engineering.

Becoming a professional engineer requires extensive knowledge in the sciences and mathematics. Engineers must also possess creativity, resourcefulness, effective communication skills, and hands-on training. 

Six Specialized Types of Engineers

1. Civil Engineers

Civil engineering is considered the oldest engineering discipline. Civil engineers design, construct, protect, and sometimes destroy many kinds of environments.

This includes infrastructure that is both natural and man-made, public and private, commercial and residential. Think of airports, hydroelectric dams, railways, a mountain pass, or even a building demolition. 

structural engineer

2. Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design and manufacture machines, equipment, final products, and parts that influence the design of other products.

Mechanical engineers are also expected to understand and incorporate the principles of force, energy, and motion into their designs. The goal of this branch of engineering is to create a system or process that works safely, efficiently, and affordably.

3. Production Engineers

Production engineers also work in the area of manufacturing. They specialize in using technology to improve the process of transforming raw materials into finished products.

Their responsibilities often include implementing automation and executing quality control measures in order to provide goods efficiently, safely, and reliably.

Production engineers fill a variety of titles, including:

  • Assistant Production Engineer
  • Production Design Engineer
  • Production Manager

4. Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineering is commonly known as process engineering. It’s wide-ranging and encompasses many fields. A chemical engineer may work in many different fields.

Examples include:

Chemical engineering relies on the understanding of mathematics and chemistry to create products or processes, or to improve existing ones. Chemical engineers ensure that engineering processes are designed with utmost safety considering the social, environmental, and business needs. 

Chemical engineers also focus on creating products from raw materials, as well as managing resources. 

5. Biomedical Engineers

Sometimes called medical engineers, biomedical engineers study and design solutions to problems in biology and medicine. Their goal is to improve the effectiveness of patient care and the quality of human health.

Biomedical engineers design, install, adjust, analyze, and repair biomedical equipment. They also train medical personnel in the proper use of such equipment.

medical engineering

6. Aerospace Engineers

Also known as aeronautical engineers, aerospace engineers primarily design, build, and test aircraft and spacecraft. The systems they design for national defense include airplanes, helicopters, missiles, rockets, and even satellites. 

Aerospace engineers must apply the fundamentals of structural analysis, fluid dynamics, propulsion, aerospace design, materials science, and automatic control and orientation. This is all part of creating and testing prototypes to ensure that designs will function as intended.

What is the difference between common types of engineers and special types of engineers?

In broader terms, engineering fields are typically divided by four most common branches of engineering:

  • Civil structural engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Chemical engineering

These four broad categories encompass a wide variety of engineering specializations. Most engineers work with one or more of these engineering disciplines.

For example, some aspects of civil engineering might also include structural and transportation engineering. There are materials engineers who specialize in working with ceramics, polymers, or metallurgical engineering. Also, consider demolition engineers which fall under the civil engineering category.

Because each of these engineering disciplines has different requirements and training, most professional societies today recognize these subdivisions. This makes it easier for aspiring engineers to focus on the particular field they find most interesting.

working with clipboard - six types of engineers

How should I choose which field of engineering?

Studying engineering, whichever discipline you choose, is no light matter. We recommend assessing your current skill set and passions, are you already good at and what interests you the most?

Does computer science come easy to you? Maybe you could become a computer engineer and work on designing and developing large-scale computer systems. 

Systems engineering is another broad area and could include mechanical systems.

Are you into sea life? Marine engineering can be your best choice!

Are you interested in mega projects? Then industrial engineering might be the field for you. 

Are you keen to take things apart and put them back together? Do you like working on cars? Ever wonder how missiles and rockets can fly so fast or how to build an earthquake-proof bridge?

Engineers get to work on interesting and challenging projects.

So, start with discovering your passions and interests. It will help you to decide which field of engineering will bring the optimal balance of challenges and rewards. 

Consulting with professional engineers could help determine which engineering field is right for you.

Of course, salary is an important factor too. Some types of engineers may make more than others in certain places or types of projects. A petroleum engineer working in the energy industry might make more than an environmental engineer working on municipal water treatment systems.

More Than Six Types of Engineers

To say there are only six types of engineers is misleading. There are many more disciplines and subdivisions of engineering. The six covered in this article are some of the most common. When it comes to choosing a career path, narrowing it down to one kind can be a difficult yet enjoyable task.

There is one trait that we believe all engineers share. That is the desire to change the world with their skills. The state of technology and engineering we have today, makes everything possible.  With the right combination of knowledge, passion, skills, and determination, engineers will continue to deliver a better tomorrow and future.

Multidiscipline Engineering Services

Vista Projects is an integrated engineering services firm able to assist with your mechanical engineering requirements. With offices in Calgary, Alberta, and Houston, Texas, we help clients with customized system integration and engineering consulting across all core disciplines.