Electronic Design

Career Paths: To Live Well, Follow Your Passion

"Look for those careers that excite you. don't look for a perceived goal like living well," says Richard Heckel, technical director for Engineering Trends, a Houghton, Mich., consulting firm that provides data on college and university engineering enrollment trends. "If you pick what you enjoy, you will live well," says Heckel, whose Web site is www.engtrends.com.

People who select a career based on what someone tells them won't be successful, he adds. Further, it's a fallacy to make a choice based on the expectations of making lots of money, rather than what you enjoy doing. "One cannot keep a 40-year career going if you feel it is the wrong decision," he notes.

Heckel cites the statistics on engineering enrollment and job opportunities. When engineers are in demand and salaries are high, some students choose engineering for the perceived economic windfall. However, what really happens is an upward spike in engineering graduate numbers, increasing job competition and lowering salaries.

On the other hand, students who select engineering because that's where their true interests and hobbies lie enter the field regardless of perceived economic benefits. Consequently, they may happen to join the engineering circle when things seem the worse. Ultimately, there's a more depleted supply of engineering graduates, which creates more demand.

"If you are good at what you want to do, you can always succeed in this country," says Heckel. "The trick is in making that decision. Then, it's the commitment to achieving those goals that brings the rewards."

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