Should I Become an Engineer?

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on December 19, 2013

Here’s something we can assert with full confidence: it takes a lot of chutzpah to pursue a career in engineering. Engineers are expected to confront and conquer significant and meaningful challenges on a daily basis, and only a person with a lot of spunk and nerve would be willing to step forward and don the mantle of responsibility that a respected engineer comes to take for granted. But unlike Lou Grant from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show everyone here at Vocationary admires spunk, and if you believe that becoming an engineer is your life’s calling then we heartily applaud your inspiring choice.

There are many different subcategories of engineer (15 are listed in the Career section on this website) and as you can imagine the type of work you will be asked to perform will vary broadly based on what kind of engineer you decide to become. But what unites aspiring engineers of all persuasions is their dual identity as thinkers and builders. If you check out our job profiles you will see Thinking identified as the primary interest area for some engineering classifications while Building is the selection for others, but really all engineers are both to one extent or the other.

Like all thinkers engineers are interested in solving problems and finding solutions to a range of puzzling conundrums. They are driven to understand and are attracted to scientific theory because of its immense explanatory power. But unlike abstract theoretical work engineering is fully grounded in reality – successful engineers leave behind visible physical artifacts and materially productive systems that help shape the world we all live in. And despite its primary concern with inanimate objects, there is something fundamentally organic about the practice of engineering; it is a dynamic discipline that repeatedly alters living landscapes and guides the evolution of culture and society in a decidedly progressive direction. So while the engineer is a thinker he or she is also a builder, just as surely as Bruce Wayne is also Batman and Clark Kent Superman.

If the thought of becoming an engineer sends chills up your spine you are undoubtedly a person with a complex nature, which will undoubtedly be reflected in your personality traits. Conscientiousness, Openness and Agreeableness are a somewhat unusual combination of characteristics for a person to possess, but if you lack in any of these areas then like Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose your career as an engineer may never actually get off the ground.

Because scientific and technical training and knowledge acquisition require strong dedication and an organized, disciplined approach, without Conscientiousness a prospective engineer would be lost. Meanwhile, the personality trait of openness, which can only blossom in a creative environment where the novel and the innovative are always embraced, is just as critical because an engineer who isn’t pushing the envelope and carving out new territory would never accomplish anything that was remarkable or noteworthy. If you want to be a good engineer you need to be organized and consistent in your efforts and yet still be able to head off in a new direction when a creative solution is required. An engineer with an abundance of Openness but a shortage of Conscientiousness – or vice versa – would be like a hiker lost in the forest, wandering around and around in a circle without ever really getting anywhere.

Openness and Conscientiousness are the most vital personality traits that a prospective engineer must possess. But because of how grand and complicated engineering projects can be, anyone planning to enter this field should also have at least a modicum of Agreeableness, in order to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Designers, architects, surveyors, managers, safety inspectors, technicians, laborers and other engineers are just some of the individuals who may be involved in the process by which engineering concepts are translated into real world applications, and an engineer certainly cannot afford to be an autocrat when managing or organizing the activities of such a diverse group of contributors. However, engineers also have to make smart, tough and logical decisions in many instances, and they cannot be afraid to step on a few toes when the time comes to do so. A little teamwork and cooperation are useful, but in the final analysis an engineer also has to lead when it is necessary.

Engineering is an ideal career for anyone who wants to turn intellectual accomplishments into practical achievements. You might fantasize about designing beautiful homes, more efficient machinery, ingenious electronic gadgetry, new wonder chemicals, environmentally-friendly heating or cooling systems, more economical industrial processes or cutting edge software programs; it could be any of a thousand things, really, depending on where your creative instincts lead you. But if you love demanding yet eminently practical challenges, you could engineer a spectacular future for yourself if you were to embark on a career in this vast and expansive field.

Of course selecting the proper career requires a lot of intelligent thought and personal insight, and that is why a career assessment exam can be so invaluable to any person who desires to become an engineer. This is a laudable but formidable ambition, so you have to be sure that this is what you really want and that it is a life path that will truly bring you fulfillment.

Our Career Surveyor test will give you exactly the type of deep and insightful assessment of your talents, inclinations and personality traits that you require. If you want to become an engineer in a certain sense you should already be an engineer, in your heart, mind and soul, and after you take our comprehensive and carefully crafted exam you will know for certain whether or not you possess that essential combination of characteristics that will give you the opportunity to succeed in this important and invigorating profession.


Truity was founded in 2012 to bring you helpful information and assessments to help you understand yourself and use your strengths. We are based in San Francisco, CA.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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Myers-Briggs® and MBTI® are registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., which has no affiliation with this site. Truity offers a free personality test based on Myers and Briggs' types, but does not offer the official MBTI® assessment. For more information on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment, please go here .

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