Continuing Education in Engineering: 6 Benefits & Why It Matters For Your Career

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While you don’t have to be licensed to find work as an engineer, obtaining licensure confers important benefits. It not only opens up your career options by affording you more opportunities, it’s required for certain areas, such as in government, education or working as a consultant or contractor. Engineers that are licensed need to maintain their license by obtaining continuing education credits or minimum number of professional development hours (PDH) credits every year. 

However, the truth is even if you’re not responsible for maintaining an engineering license, continuing engineering education is important to expand and improve your engineering skills, as well as cultivate new ones. Here’s what you need to know about continuing education for professional engineers.

Types of Continuing Education in Engineering

Engineering is an industry of constant change, requiring professional engineers to stay on top of new guidelines, requirements, technologies and best practices. Continuing education is a necessity for keeping pace with these many different developments — but also can inform you about possible new career opportunities and grow your professional network. Here are some of the most common methods of continuing education for engineers:

6 Benefits of Continuing Education in Engineering

Updating your technical skills and building your knowledge base is more than just a requirement, it’s essential for your engineering career growth. Here are the major benefits — both professionally and personally — that engineering continuing education can bring.

  1. It ensures you stay compliant with licensing boards.

As the engineering profession continues to evolve, engineers are expected to earn continuing education hours to keep up with the times and remain in good standing. As such, continuing education is required to practice as a professional engineer. 42 out of the 50 states — plus the District of Columbia — require continuing education as part of engineering license renewal. 

Licensed engineers are required to earn a certain amount of professional development hours (PDH), also referred to as continuing education units (CEUs), to maintain their license. For every training course, workshop or educational activity completed, or conference or seminar attended, you will earn a set amount of PDH credit.   

While maintaining a professional engineering license isn’t required for many engineering jobs, it can be the deciding factor in many company’s hiring preferences, making you a stronger candidate for higher — and better paying — positions. 

  1. It increases your earning potential

The more you know in the industry, the more you’re worth — and that applies to experience and education. The median annual salary for an engineer rises with each advanced degree. An engineer with a doctorate earns a median annual wage that’s up to 35% higher than an engineer with a bachelor’s degree.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that engineering majors earn a median annual salary of $102,200. And according to Payscale, the average base salary for engineers with: 

When Engineering.com surveyed engineering professionals if career advancement was easier with an advanced degree, almost 60% of the respondents said yes. Continuing education helps to ensure that your skills and knowledge set you apart from other engineering candidates applying to higher level positions. 

Here’s what that same survey found about the distribution of degrees among different positions:

Job RoleHas a Bachelor’sHas a Master’sHas a Ph.D
Engineer50%26%7%
Senior Engineer46%31%16%
Manager44%38%8%
Vice President41%35%12%
Director40%33%20%

More advanced degrees and higher levels of education are more likely to earn you higher positions, along with higher salaries.

  1. It enhances your professional development 

Part of the reason why continuing education increases your eligibility for advanced positions, is that it allows you to build on your professional development. Aside from your technical knowledge, continuing education helps you build skills in leadership, project management, communication and critical thinking.

It’s essential to learn how to adapt to new technologies, developments, skills and regulations within your field. Continuing education is also the best way to stay on top of developments and be informed on the latest technologies, regulations, standards and safety practices.  Continuing education will also ensure you are aware of the “hows” and “whys” of these updates.

Acquiring diverse skills through continuing education can make you adaptable and more versatile in the job market, enabling you to more easily transition between different roles or even industries.

  1. It allows you to further specialize in your field

Continuing education offers you the opportunity to specialize in specific areas of engineering, making you an expert in your chosen domain and master different subfields. For example, popular subfields of major engineering disciplines include:

Branching into an engineering subfield could bring new insight and ideas to your projects or lead to unique career opportunities.

If you decide to leverage your education to become a licensed professional engineer, you’ll have additional authority and capabilities. For example, you will be allowed to prepare, sign and seal and submit engineering plans and drawings to a public authority for approval for both public and private projects.

You can even use the PDH requirements for your license as an opportunity to explore other engineering disciplines and technical areas that you’d like to learn more about. 

  1. It provides you with more networking opportunities

Building a successful career relies not just on what you know, but who you know. Having a strong network of peers, mentors and other engineering professionals can open up opportunities and provide you with invaluable lifelong resources. Engaging in continuing education provides numerous opportunities to meet other engineering professionals, industry experts and potential employers. 

Use continuing education as a chance to make new connections, learn what others in your field are up to and find work opportunities. Whether you’re meeting in courses, at conferences or through workshops, there’s a lot that can be shared within those collaborative spaces. 

  1. It can increase your engagement with your career

For most of us, working the same job over a long period of time becomes tiresome. Monotony at work and a lack of feeling in control are leading causes of burnout. While continuing education won’t necessarily increase your sense of job satisfaction, research shows that professionals with higher education are more likely to have greater job resources such as income, autonomy and variety. However, they’re also more likely to have greater job demands.  

If you’re looking for a great challenge or for new ways to engage with your work, then learning new material can allow you to think about concepts differently, leading to more mental stimulation and greater engagement. Continuing education and training will also enable you to feel more confident in your skills and abilities and so better able to handle challenges.

Tips for Pursuing Continuing Education

With so many options for continuing education in engineering, how can you choose the programs that are right for you? Consider the following tips:

Additionally, technical material isn’t the only type of PDH requirement, as some states may require ethics courses. Look up the state you work in to familiarize yourself with how many PDH credits are needed, the kinds of courses that are required and when your renewal application is due.

Accepted as PDH CreditNot Accepted as PDH Credit
Completing a technical, online course related to your fieldCollege courses that are not in an engineering discipline or technical
Attending engineering and technical conferences and webinarsCompany orientation, policies and procedures training or other on the job training
Taking an engineering course at a university or instituteSelf-improvement and self-development classes
Receiving professional training related to your workAttending trade shows, conferences or conventions without participating in workshops
Teaching a technical college class or online course

The websites of the different engineering licensing boards will detail their requirements, including accepted certifications and fees. 

If you’re interested in learning more skills to succeed in the engineering field, we invite you to consider the University of San Diego’s Professional and Continuing Education Engineering courses and certificate programs. Whether you are seeking specific knowledge and skills or looking for continuing career personal advancement, our programs are thoughtfully tailored to meet your needs.

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Curriculum covered in this article

Data Analytics and Visualization Certificate – Bundle and save 10% when you enroll in all four courses (must add all 4 courses in one transaction for discount):

  • DAV-X800 Essentials of Analytics in Excel
  • DAV-X801A Data Visualization & Storytelling with Tableau
  • DAV-X801B Data Analytics with Python and R
  • DAV-X802 Data Analytics and Visualization Capstone

To apply credit, select the checkbox and select  "BUS – DAV Bundle and Save 10%" for a discount on each course.

**Only one discount can be applied per course. Discount does not apply to certificate fee.**

Business
Engineering Programs
2 Units
Online Fixed-Date

Data Analytics and Visualization Certificate – Bundle and save 10% when you enroll in all four courses (must add all 4 courses in one transaction for discount):

  • DAV-X800 Essentials of Analytics in Excel
  • DAV-X801A Data Visualization & Storytelling with Tableau
  • DAV-X801B Data Analytics with Python and R
  • DAV-X802 Data Analytics and Visualization Capstone

To apply credit, select the checkbox and select  "BUS – DAV Bundle and Save 10%" for a discount on each course.

**Only one discount can be applied per course. Discount does not apply to certificate fee.**

Business
Engineering Programs
2 Units
Online Fixed-Date

Data Analytics and Visualization Certificate – Bundle and save 10% when you enroll in all four courses (must add all 4 courses in one transaction for discount):

  • DAV-X800 Essentials of Analytics in Excel
  • DAV-X801A Data Visualization & Storytelling with Tableau
  • DAV-X801B Data Analytics with Python and R
  • DAV-X802 Data Analytics and Visualization Capstone

To apply credit, select the checkbox and select  "BUS – DAV Bundle and Save 10%" for a discount on each course.

**Only one discount can be applied per course. Discount does not apply to certificate fee.**

Business
Engineering Programs
2 Units
Online Fixed-Date
Business
Engineering Programs
3 Units
Online Fixed-Date

Practical Data Engineering Certificate – Bundle and save 10% when you enroll in all four courses (must add all 4 courses in one transaction for discount):

  • PDE-X800-Data Engineering Fundamentals
  • PDE-X801-Practical Data Extraction
  • PDE-X802-Practical Data Integration
  • PDE-X803-Practical Data Engineering Capstone

To apply credit, select the checkbox and select  "BUS – PDE Bundle and Save 10%" for a discount on each course.
**Only one discount can be applied per course. Discount does not apply to certificate fee. **

Business
Engineering Programs
2 Units
Online Fixed-Date

Practical Data Engineering Certificate – Bundle and save 10% when you enroll in all four courses (must add all 4 courses in one transaction for discount):

  • PDE-X800-Data Engineering Fundamentals
  • PDE-X801-Practical Data Extraction
  • PDE-X802-Practical Data Integration
  • PDE-X803-Practical Data Engineering Capstone

To apply credit, select the checkbox and select  "BUS – PDE Bundle and Save 10%" for a discount on each course.
**Only one discount can be applied per course. Discount does not apply to certificate fee. **

Business
Engineering Programs
2 Units
Online Fixed-Date

From A to V: Data Analytics & Data Visualization Career Guide

Find actionable insights in the data we create every day. Start a career in data analytics and visualization.