Engineers are highly paid and there is lots of choice in terms of areas of interest and specialization. But, if you’re looking for an entry-level job you’ll have already made your choice.
Whichever field of engineering you have chosen, you’re inevitably going to be competing against other applicants for the job you want. The best tool you can use to get an interview is a well-written resume, and we’re going to help you write one.
Resume objective for an entry-level engineer
The resume objective has fallen from favor in recent years, but according to Monster, there are times when it can be helpful. For example, when you change careers or are an entry-level applicant looking for an engineering job.
It stands to reason that a newly graduated engineer will apply for a job that is advertised as an entry-level position. In this case, there’s no point in repeating in an objective that you are an engineer looking for an entry-level position. Every other applicant is in the same shoes!
Whether you include an objective or not, it’s important to keep your resume relevant and to ensure it caters to the position you are applying for.
Of course, if you are a mechanical engineer you’ll go for a job in that field, but you might opt for a job related to buildings, or machinery, or transportation, maybe even scientific research and development.
The same applied to chemical engineers, civil engineers, electrical and electronics engineers, and computer hardware engineers. They are all engineers but they specialize in different fields and there is a myriad of different types of jobs in every field.
If you do include an objective, you will need to support it in the sections on skills and experience.
Dedicated chemical engineer with intern experience in an agricultural company. Excellent analytical skills and a proven track record. Ready to learn and achieve excellence in all fields. Safety-first mindset and a collaborative attitude.
Resume skills for an entry-level engineer
The skills entry-level engineers need depend entirely on the field of engineering they have studied. There will even be differences within a field.
These include (in alphabetical order) aerospace, agricultural, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer hardware, electrical and electronics, environmental, health and safety, industrial, materials, mechanical, mining and geological, nuclear, and petroleum engineers, all of whom do very different jobs.
This means that while they certainly do have some common skills, these aren’t exactly the same.
According to the BLS, aerospace engineers need analytical, business, critical-thinking, math, problem-solving, and writing skills.
Agricultural engineers need analytical, communication, math, and problem-solving skills.
Industrial engineers need creativity as well as critical thinking, listening, math, problem-solving, speaking, and writing skills.
Nuclear engineers need to be detail-oriented and they should have analytical, communication, logical thinking, math, and problem-solving skills.
And there may be additional skills that are peculiar to a specific job.
The sample skills below relate to a job posting for a chemical engineer intern with Nutrien Ltd., a company that manufactures agricultural products and offers services and solutions to the industry.
Written and verbal communication | Analytical | Problem-solving | Troubleshooting | Interpersonal | Math | Creativity | Ingenuity | Process safety | MOS
Entry-level engineer work experience
Experience is always an important factor for job seekers, but it can be a problem for entry-level engineers who have never had a full-time engineering job.
The University of Colorado, Boulder’s Career Services Division of Student Affairs advises how important it is for engineers to emphasize their technical skills and experience when they write a resume. This is particularly important for entry-level engineers.
Because an entry-level applicant won’t have much (if any) formal work experience, they suggest listing internships, most of which are offered for a 12-week period, and which may or may not have been paid, as well as research, laboratory, and class projects.
Whatever you do include under the work experience section of your resume, you must be sure it is relevant for the job you are applying for. Remember, too, that different jobs have different criteria and you need to show the hierarchy of experiences that make you marketable for this job.
Quantify your value. Put numbers behind the attributes you are selling for yourself. Engineers love numbers, so even if you were a volunteer teaching assistant or grader in college, mention how many students you were responsible for.
Note that the examples below are just that, examples. Each job would require a different engineering specialization and it is not expected that you would have the knowledge needed for all of them.
Sample Work Experience
Alphatec Spine, Inc, CA
Design Engineer, Custom Instruments, 2019
Responsible for the design and development of new customized instruments. Involved in creating concepts and modeling and drafting designs utilizing 3D CAD software.
- Interfaced with surgeons and with the sales team for design requirements, managing multiple requests, tracking the status of these requests, and creating work orders for manufacturing.
- Worked on the ServiceNOW software platform from intake to completion of requests.
- Generated design documentation for projects’ Customized Design History Files (cDHF).
- Created and processed work orders for manufacturing and collaborated on the development of inspection methods.
Materials – Engineering Internship, 2018
Worked in a team responsible for multiple facets of materials used at Tesla factories. This included qualifying, testing, and developing, as well as consultation and implementation of functions relating to materials.
- Analyzed and tested multiple materials including metals, ceramics, glass, polymers, and adhesives.
- Worked with 3D CAD tools to achieve what was required.
- Worked hands-on doing things like turning wrenches and making sure stuff worked as it should.
- Awarded Engineer Intern of the Month two months in a row.
Nutrien Ltd, GA
Intern, Chemical Engineer, 2018
Worked for a leading provider of agricultural products, services, and solutions, gaining invaluable experience in the industry. Supported operations with process calculations and troubleshooting.
- Supported the process safety event investigations and provided technical expertise for environmental release calculations.
- Updated and maintained Process Safety Information (PSI) and Safe Operating Limit Documentation (SOLs).
- Monitored catalyst, exchanger, and machinery performance to identify problems and opportunities in operating units.
- Fulfilled my goal of continuously improving production, efficiency, cost, and environmental performance and received a certificate to this effect.
Entry-level engineer education
Employment of entry-level engineering jobs is projected to grow at about the same rate as other occupations. While growth will vary according to engineering specialty, overall job opportunities are expected to be good.
However, according to the BLS, the highest growth will be in engineer occupations that relate to renewable energy, the rebuilding of infrastructure, oil and gas extraction, and robotics.
We scanned scores of job postings and noted that a bachelor’s degree in engineering is commonly required for the full range of entry-level positions. Some research positions require a graduate degree like a doctorate or master’s.
We also noticed that the starting salaries of entry-level engineers are among the highest of all college graduates. But again, the actual numbers vary depending on the field of engineering.
For example, the BLS rates the 2019 median pay for civil engineers at $87,060 compared to petroleum engineers who can expect a salary of $137,720.
Florida Polytechnic University
Bachelor of Science in Engineering, 2014 – 2017
- Environmental engineering concentrations: Modern Techniques in Sustainability. Water.
You have learned most of what you need to know at college or university, so it isn’t likely you will be looking for additional courses unless you want to change direction after graduation.
Even writing skills and the various software requirements and programming skills required for engineering are covered by undergraduate engineering courses.
But there are numerous online courses that you can take to improve your skills, for instance for computer-aided design (CAD) and software skills.
The University of Colorado (see above) lists typical technical skills that engineers need including software for PSpice, Electronic Workbench, and Verilog.
The programming skills they consider important include AutoCAD, REVIT, EPANET, Java, Python, Linux, C++, Matlab, Simulink, Mathematica, VBA, Microsoft Excel, Bluebeam, Flash, and ImageJ.
Edx and Coursera offer free online mechanical engineering courses and suggest “in-demand” courses from institutions all over the world, and top universities like Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, Michigan, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. They may charge a small fee for the certificate.
- C Programming
- Introduction to Aeronautical Engineering
- Engineering Calculus and Differential Equations
- Introduction to Engineering Mechanics
- Materials Science: 10 Things Every Engineer Should Know
Regardless of the field of engineering you have opted to study, the profession is highly regulated.
Even though most entry-level engineering positions do not require licensure, all US states require Professional Engineers (PE) who offer their services directly to the public to be licensed.
Civil, industrial, environmental, and mechanical structural engineers are most likely to be licensed. Computer engineers don’t often seek licensure.
Licensure requires a four-year bachelor’s degree from a university or college that is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) followed by at least four years of experience.
To be eligible for a license, engineers must pass two intense competency exams, the Fundamentals of Engineering and the Principles and Practice of Engineering.
ABET also sets the standards for certification for PEs. This varies according to specialization.
For instance, to become board-certified in environmental engineering by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists (AAEES) you need to be professionally employed full-time and have at least eight years of experience in the sector.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also offers certification.
And there are certification programs offered by the producers of certain software programs like MATLAB, and computer-aided design programs like CREO and SolidWorks that are accessible to entry-level engineers.
- Occupational Health, Safety, and Environmental Control certification (OSHA)
Complete entry-level engineer resume sample
When we sampled job postings for entry-level engineers we chose this one to use for the complete resume below. It will help you to craft your own resume that you can use for your next entry-level engineer application.
If you apply for more than one job, be sure to check through the resume carefully and tailor it for each position.
You will see that this job is for an entry-level mechanical engineer who is able to use professional concepts and theoretical knowledge he or she has been taught or has acquired through experience.
The successful engineer will be able to exercise independent judgment within carefully defined parameters but will be expected to expand his or her experience beyond this specific role.
Somebody with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in mechanical engineering is required. The company is willing to take on someone without formal experience, or with up to two years in the field.
The required knowledge and skills are clearly stated.
Entry-Level Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical engineer with intern and two years of entry-level experience. Understanding and experience in the field of electrical engineering. Eager to learn new skills.
Analytical | Problem-solving | Written and verbal communication | Teamwork | Process safety | 3D CAD | Creo | SolidWorks
Power Engineering, CA
Entry-Level Distribution Engineer, 2019 – 2020
Performed distribution design, transmission project support, and various other taste assigned by the company’s utility clients. The job included physical, electrical, and material design.
- Involved in all aspects of utility distribution design including mechanical and electrical elements.
- Collected data from utility clients including public utility district, investor-owned utilities, municipalities, and co-ops.
- Assisted the company’s senior engineers with engineering consulting services to these clients.
- The scope of the job included distribution planning, coordination, sectionalization, and arc-flash studies on medium voltage systems.
Delta Design, CA
Mechanical Engineer Intern, 2017 – 2018
Collected data, and analyzed and identified solutions to reduce the failure rates on specified products. Helped to fill out forms and add missing details. Helped manage open quality issues.
- Structured problem-solving to identify the root causes of identification.
- Structured design and reliability experiments.
- Tested and evaluated materials and processes, and tested assembly systems.
- Analyzed data and prepared findings and recommended corrective actions, 90% of which were accepted by the senior mechanical engineer.
University of California, Berkeley
Part of team final-year project: Recycling Without Doubt, 2016
Experimented with infrared sensing technology to determine what types of plastics can be recycled. Developed a BioRhythm system to solve the widespread problem so users know what can and can’t be recycled simply by scanning the plastic.
- The team developed an easy and effective solution in the form of a BioRhythm product to help sort plastics into recycling, trash, and compostable materials, each of which has a separate bin.
- Users place their plastic on a ring on the device and a bright, colorful light indicates which of the three bins to throw it into.
- The device is suitable for use at large events.
- Our project was motivated by the fact that 23% of the waste generated in the US is plastic of some sort of other and less than a 10th of this is recycled or composted every year.
University of California, Berkeley
Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering, 2014 – 2017
- Joint majors: Materials Science and Engineering/Mechanical Engineering.
- Autodesk CAD/CAM/CAE for Mechanical Engineering
- Introduction to High-Throughput Materials Development
Entry-level engineers have access to a myriad of well-paid job opportunities. Your education and training will determine the field you enter.
- You will need a strong resume that should focus on your accomplishments and show recruiters or job managers how you will add value to the position.
- Tailor your resume to the opportunity, highlighting the skills and abilities they are looking for. List any relevant experience, even if it relates to projects you did at uni.
- If you are able to, quantify your value and use numbers to boost your achievements.
Tips from Experts
“There’s no shortage of engineering jobs these days, but employers still want to hire the best people. If you show them what you’ve got to offer, make an effort to understand the business, and focus on knowing your craft, you’ll not only land an amazing job, you’ll have more success in your career than you could ever have imagined.” – Corlis D. Murray, BS in Mechanical Engineering, and senior vice-president, Quality Assurance, Regulatory and Engineering Services at Abbot
“A resume is to market you as a professional. For example, if you’re applying for a bridge job you’re going to have to emphasize that design-build firm you worked for last summer. Otherwise, you’re going to be dropped for the kid who went to science camp every year because they couldn’t get past line 4 on your crappy resume.“ – Jake Voorhees, BS Civil Engineering, founder of the 1% Engineer Show
“To write a strong technical, engineering resume, customize it, focus on your accomplishments and not your job duties, be brief and to the point, and make sure it reflects you at your personal best. Your intro/summary is basically your first impression. Your skills are really important. When you write your job history you must tailor your resume to the opportunity. Write a short summary followed by bullet points that highlight your achievements. Include problem-solving and how you went about it.” – Danielle Chitty, recruiter, and developer
Getting entry-level engineering jobs can be a challenge. There are lots of jobs out there, but there is also an increasing number of graduates each year.
Work on your resume so that you stand out from the rest and are invited to attend that all-important, possibly life-changing interview.