Manufacturing Engineers: Degree vs. Experience

Mechanical Engineer Degree plus Experience
The debate may never be settled, what’s more important for a rewarding manufacturing engineer career: degrees or work experience?  Our recruiters tell us the answer is twofold: both and it depends.

Degrees vs. Experience

A lot of the manufacturing engineers we work with have rewarding careers with great companies based upon their work experience alone. Others feel the time spent getting their degree was an important investment in career acceleration. We have clients who will only consider engineers with at least a bachelors or even Master’s degree for many of their prime positions. Other clients put much more stock on the candidate’s test for practical knowledge and technical chops.  

Opinions and Preferences

We turned on the Listening Post to see what engineers themselves had to say. We found some engineers discussing the relative merits of degrees and work experience in this online forum discussion, with one engineer touting the value of internships in building up career credentials. In another engineering discussion thread, we found users passionately debate the issue of book-learning versus on-the-job-learning.  As you can see, it’s a topic where people often have very strong opinions, depending on their individual career progression experiences. 

The Turning Point in Your Career

For some insight, we asked Aerotek recruiter Melanie Wilson what her clients were looking for when it comes to top talent in manufacturing engineering. “Engineers entering the market with a relevant degree who then spend a few years acquiring skills in a particular specialty are very valuable to our clients. It’s the sweet-spot in a manufacturing engineer’s career, usually 3-7 years into the workforce. Ambitious engineers who focus on acquiring skills specific to a product category or particular technology become very marketable during their career.”

Passion Drives Your Value

Aerotek recruiter specializing in engineering contractor careers, Jackie Ross, agrees, “Some of our contractors fresh out of college are intent on working with a company they’ve loved since they were kids — whether it’s an auto brand, a heavy equipment maker or a consumer electronics business. Others are more focused on getting experience with a particular type of technology in the manufacturing design and production process, like robotics and computer-aided design (CAD). But whatever is driving their passion a hunger for acquiring deep, specific skills to complement their degree makes them a hot candidate for our clients.

Whether you got to where you are in your engineering career by way of advanced degrees or on-the-job experience, we’d love to help you explore your next career move. Create an Aerotek manufacturing engineer career account here if you haven’t already. To explore our current manufacturing engineer opportunities visit here