Engineering is all about problem solving and innovation. If you enjoy figuring things out, creating new things, and have an aptitude for STEM, you might be suited to a career in this diverse and dynamic field.

But there's more to engineering than the practical application of science. Certain personality traits can be a huge advantage in this field. As part of your career planning, considering whether engineering aligns with your interests, work style and long-term goals is an essential step.

What does an engineer do?

Engineering is a broad field and the types of jobs vary significantly. Generally, engineers draw on their knowledge of mathematics and science to design solutions for real-world problems. They use this knowledge to develop processes that will take products from concept to production. Engineers must also be able to think logically and critically analyze data in order to identify problems and create solutions.

There are numerous branches of engineering, each with its own specific focus. For example, civil engineers design and oversee the construction of infrastructure projects like bridges and highways, while mechanical engineers are involved in the design, development and production of machinery. Electrical engineers work on a broad range of technologies, from global positioning systems to electric power systems, whereas software engineers are involved in the creation and maintenance of software applications. 

Each type of engineer plays a distinct yet interconnected role in shaping our world.

What personality traits do engineers have?

The Holland Code is a helpful tool when making career and vocational choices based upon personality types. It's the basis of many popular career tests

The Holland Code is characterized by six work interests areas: Builders, Thinkers, Creators, Helpers, Persuaders and Organizers. Each job role is associated with one or more of these interest areas, and every individual shows a preference for one or more of these interests. Pursuing a career that aligns with your main work interest area means a better chance for success and job satisfaction.

Engineers are typically associated with the following interest areas:

  1. Building: Builders are realistic individuals – practical, physical and hands-on. They are drawn to work that involves tools, machines and a degree of physical work. Electrical and electronic engineers, for example, take abstract ideas and turn them into tangible items that move, heat, cool or measure something.
  2. Thinking: Thinkers are analytical and logical by nature. They are drawn to activities involving data analysis, research and complex problem-solving. This trait is distinctly noticeable in all engineering fields. For instance, software engineers utilize their thinking skills to develop complex algorithms and troubleshoot code, translating these into functional software applications. Chemical engineers apply their analytical skills to convert raw materials into viable processes and products. Their work involves rigorous data analysis and logical problem-solving to ensure the efficiency and safety of these processes.

What Myers and Briggs personality types are suited to engineering?

In the Typefinder system, the following personality types tend to gravitate towards the engineering profession:

  • INTJ: INTJs are strategic, logical and enjoy complex problem-solving. They're able to design and implement innovative solutions, making them excellent candidates for roles in engineering.
  • INTP: Often referred to as the 'Architect', INTPs are analytical and abstract thinkers with a natural inclination to make the complex simple. They can excel in fields like software or mechanical engineering, where their problem-solving skills can thrive.
  • ISTJ: ISTJs are realistic and practical. They have strong organizational skills and excel at making decisions based on facts. This makes them well-suited for engineering roles where they can use their analytical abilities and make data-driven decisions.
  • ENTJ: ENTJs are able to see the big picture and have strong leadership capabilities. These traits make them ideal for a role like that of an engineering manager or project leader, where they can lead teams and develop innovative solutions.
  • ENTP: ENTPs are highly creative and think outside the box. This makes them well-suited to fields such as product design and software engineering, where their innovative ideas can be utilized to create new products or applications.

As you can see, Intuitive Thinkers, NTs, tend to be particularly well-suited to careers in engineering. However, it's important to remember that these are generalizations, and people of all personality types can successfully work in this field. What matters most is passion, readiness to face challenges, and a continuous desire to learn and adapt.

The right career planning tools to help you decide

If you're still not sure whether engineering is the right career path for you, there are many tools that can help. A career aptitude test such as Truity's Career Personality Profiler test can help you discover which career field best suits your interests and talents. Based on the scientifically validated Big Five and Holland Code personality systems, the Career Personality Profiler can be used to identify whether engineering is a good fit for your interests and aptitudes, and which type of engineering role might best suit your personality.

In the end, choosing a career is a personal journey, but knowing yourself and understanding your strengths can guide you towards the right path. Engineering is not just about equations and designs; it's about innovating, problem-solving, and creating a better future. So, if you find yourself excited by the challenges and possibilities this field presents, maybe it is time to don the hat of an engineer and start making your mark!

Truity was founded in 2012 to bring you helpful information and assessments to help you understand yourself and use your strengths. We are based in San Francisco, CA.