Hiring Managers Should Know the Difference between Engineering Degrees

As a non-technical person, it can at times be difficult  for hiring managers to understand the differences between various engineering degrees. This information, however, can be extremely important when hiring a candidate. After all, how do you know if a candidate is qualified for a role if you don’t know whether or not his or her education is relevant?

We have developed this handy guide to understanding these different degrees to help you in hiring the right person. Keep this information in mind as you prepare job descriptions, meet with candidates, and make important organizational decisions.

Mechanical

Mechanical engineering is a broad category involving the generation, distribution, and use of energy. Mechanical engineers can work with machinery like home appliances, HVAC systems, robotics, and elevators, but their work can extend to the aerospace and automotive industries, as well.

They have three areas of primary specialization: solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, and thermodynamics. Whether they are analyzing the behaviours of solid bodies responding to changes and external factors, designing machinery and systems based on the behaviour of liquids and gases, or developing devices to help with the conversion of energy forms, mechanical engineering degrees afford students a wide range of skills.

You might be interested in hiring an individual with a mechanical engineering degree for jobs in industries including construction, rail, utilities, and materials and metals, to name a few.

Chemical

This is an industry-diverse degree. People who hold these degrees learn how to design chemical procedures to improve processes, or find ways to use chemistry in a manufacturing-based method for commercial production. For example, they might find ways to improve food processing-related techniques.

The three areas of primary specialization are biotechnology, petroleum and natural gas, and polymers. When hiring someone with this degree, it’s important to keep in mind that the skills of a chemical engineer are diverse. As a result, they have diverse options in terms of career opportunities. While they might work in food, agricultural, and medical application industries, they could also work to refine natural gas as a source of fuel or work with plastics and synthetic fibres.

Computer

This degree trains you to design software and hardware. Computer engineers possess a solid understanding of computer and circuitry science; that also means they need to know a fair amount about electrical engineering (which we’ll discuss below).

Areas of primary specialization are hardware and software, artificial intelligence, information technology, operating systems and networks, robotics, and software applications. Many people consider this degree to be the most modern and interesting. When hiring a computer engineer, it’s important to keep in mind that they would be suited for roles and industries that are focused on pushing the technological envelope, as with the Internet of Things.

Electrical

As you can probably tell from the name, this degree focuses on all things electrical. Examples of this might be electronic devices, systems, or energy. These engineers work towards developing efficient power methods. The areas of primary specialization are communications, digital systems, electric power, electronics, robotics, and control systems.

Whether it’s generation and transmission of electric power, or working with wires, cables, fibre optics, or radio and wireless communication, there are many roles you may have available that require the hiring of an electrical engineer.

Civil

When you think about civil engineering, think along the lines of city planning. These engineers build and design roads, buildings, sewage systems, as well as other transportation-related structures.

They often work like high-level project managers for construction projects–engaging in safety reviews, cost/budgeting estimations, environmental concerns, and regulation/legislation considerations.

This degree also has sub-disciplines like construction, structural, geotechnical, transportation, and environmental engineering.

Four areas of primary specialization are construction management, geotechnical engineering, surveying, and transportation. You would definitely want to look into hiring a civil engineer for major urban planning or construction projects.

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Scott Russell Dempster

Scott Russell Dempster

Scott is the Creative Director at Ian Martin. His goal in life is to take boring stuff and make it easier to understand. When not pushing pixels around, he can be heard (from great distances) playing the bagpipes.
Scott Russell Dempster

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