Advancing your engineering career with further study

Careers Advice
11 October 2013 | Careers Advice | thomas thomas

Once you have completed your degree and begun making your way in the working world, there may come a time when you believe it necessary to top up your education in order to move forward with your career. A strong undergraduate degree can often be sufficient for a very successful career, but in a competitive working environment it might be worth making that extra push to move your career along.
Unfortunately, many of those in such a situation are worried about taking a full year out of their career in order to study, as they fear finding themselves having to start their career all over again once they graduate. It appears to be a confusing situation for some: needing to study to advance their career, but fearing that study will set their career back in the short term.
For engineers, there are now fortunately a great number of postgraduate degree courses at British universities which allow you to study part-time. With these, students can pursue their higher education while keeping their position with their firm, without having to worry about finding another job when their studies are complete - or about how to fund themselves while studying.
There are two ways in which part-time study can be undertaken: through distance learning or by attending a university campus for a limited number of days per week. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of learning, and it entirely depends on the individual's personal preference; some people prefer the traditional student-teacher relationship of directed in-class learning, while others prefer the freedom and flexibility of distance learning.
It should be noted that if you want to study part-time on a university campus, this may require a degree of understanding and assistance from your employer, in order to free you up to attend classes on certain days during the working week. However, most employers will see the value of one of their staff members learning new skills in this way, and many will be willing to make such an accommodation. Take this MSc in Engineering Management course from Middlesex University: any company supporting a student on one of these courses will end up with a highly-trained engineer capable of driving the firm forward with strong leadership and project management skills - something every kind of company values.
As Edward Hansom, professional development advisor at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers explains, the collaboration of all parties should benefit everyone. He states: "The fact that Masters-level results can be achieved in the workplace is extremely powerful. Universities can increase their enrolment base; the employer gains the delivery of an engineering solution relevant to its output (at relatively low cost) and the student achieves a Masters degree which enhances, rather than disrupts, his or her career path."

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