Career Change for Engineers: From Blueprints to Business Ownership

Are you an engineer who is looking for a career change? Do you feel like you missed your calling in another profession, or are you dreaming about taking control of your future and owning a business? You aren’t alone.  

Recent studies have shown that as many as 65% of American workers are actively searching for a new career right now, and many in the Engineering field are choosing a mid-career pivot for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you’ve experienced a lack of advancement opportunities, are feeling burnt out, or are looking to make a more meaningful difference in the world.  

Are you looking to make a difference in your community, lead and coach a team, enhance your own professional achievements? Could business ownership be the solution?  


Factors Driving Career Changes from Engineering 

While engineering can be a rewarding and fulfilling career, several key factors lead some engineers seeking a pivot away from the profession. These include: 

  • Burnout: The demanding nature of engineering work, with tight deadlines, challenging projects, and high expectations, can contribute to burnout. Engineers may seek a career change to escape stress and find a more balanced and fulfilling professional life. 
  • Lack of Professional Advancement: If your engineering career lacks opportunities for growth, you may want another position that provides avenues for advancement and heightened responsibilities. 
  • Financial Goals:  Aspire for a more lucrative career with increased earning potential? Have you hit your income ceiling within your field? You might be inclined to pursue a profession that aligns with your financial objectives and promises greater monetary rewards over time. 
  • Interest in a Different Industry:  Your career interests may have evolved since selecting engineering. Since starting their first job after college, 29% of people have completely changed fields. Engineers often have versatile skills that can be applied across various industries. A desire to explore a different sector may drive engineers to seek a career change. 

  • Entrepreneurial Aspirations:  Some engineers are drawn to entrepreneurship and may decide to start their own businesses. The desire to build something and take on a more leadership-oriented role can motivate a career change. 


Why Engineers Make Great Business Owners 

At first glance, engineering and entrepreneurship may seem like very different paths. After all, engineering can be intensely collaborative while many people think business owners are taking on the challenge alone. If you look more closely, you may find that engineering and being a business owner share many of the same characteristics and skills.  

For example, although the day-to-day work of an engineer is different from most business owners, the skills and knowledge obtained from studying and experiencing the specialist field can effectively transfer to entrepreneurship. This is particularly true for skills like creativity, communication, and problem-solving, which are readily transferable to other fields. 

In fact, more than 30% of Fortune 500 CEOs have an engineering degree. This is more than those who have an MBA! Surprised? The fact is that no business degree is required to be a successful business owner. Rather, a willingness to learn and a solid work ethic will get you farther as an entrepreneur than any college degree ever could. 


4 Valuable Skills Needed for Success in the Home Services Industry 

One rapidly growing industry that may hold strong appeal for engineers is in home services. When considering a career change, the best option for you will depend on your professional background and skill set. Other factors that contribute are overall cost, location, and personal interest in the specific business.  

The home services industry involves a broad spectrum of essential services, with many businesses which are recession resilient because of their essential nature. 

From plumbing and electrical work to landscaping and maintenance, professionals in this field lead a team and work diligently to troubleshoot problems, offer preventive maintenance, and bring innovative solutions to homeowners and small businesses.  

Here are four key skills that engineers cultivate in their career experience that transfer well to businesses that serve the in-demand home services industry:  


1. Efficiency 

An important trait that engineers possess is efficiency. Engineers are trained to optimize and improve processes. In business, this translates to the ability to streamline operations, reduce costs, and maximize profits. Entrepreneurs who have a background in engineering can apply these skills to their businesses, ensuring that their operations are as efficient as possible. 


2. Project Management Experience 

Engineers are accustomed to managing projects with defined goals, timelines, and budgets. This project management experience is directly transferable to running a business, where effective planning and execution are essential. For example, home services projects, such as restorations or installations, often require effective project management. Engineers bring a wealth of experience in managing projects, ensuring timelines are met and resources are utilized efficiently. 


3. Technical Expertise 

Engineers possess a strong technical background, making you well-equipped to understand and manage the technical aspects of home services. In fact, engineers can adapt their skills to a wide range of home services, including plumbing, electrical work, HVAC systems, and more, providing versatility in addressing diverse homeowner needs. While you don’t need experience to own one of these businesses, your ability to adapt and understand how a business works can give you a leg up on the competition.   


4. Systemic Thinking 

Engineers are trained in systems thinking. You tend to have a broad understanding of complex systems and can see how different parts of a system interact with each other. This skill is beneficial in the home services industry where different systems (plumbing, heating, electrical) often overlap, and a holistic understanding is crucial for effective problem-solving. 

The ability to think this way is critical in business, where entrepreneurs must have a holistic view of their businesses to make effective decisions. Engineers can apply their ability to see the big picture to identify trends, anticipate market shifts, and make strategic decisions that will benefit their businesses. 


Embrace Franchising for a Seamless Career Change 

If one of your hesitations when exploring business ownership is a lack of direction or uncertainty in the steps to get started, franchise ownership may be the right approach for you.  

Franchising provides a ready-made business model and support system, reducing the risks associated with starting a business from scratch. For engineers without prior experience in entrepreneurship, a franchise offers a structured and established path to success in business ownership. 

Franchising also comes with comprehensive training programs, enabling engineers to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to lead a successful business in a new industry. This training can bridge the gap between their engineering background and the specific requirements of the franchise, facilitating a smoother transition. 

Finally, franchising offers autonomy within a proven framework. While engineers benefit from the established systems and processes of the franchise, they still have the freedom to manage certain aspects of the business independently. 

Neighborly® is the largest Home Services company in the world and offers 19 different North American franchises that focus on in-demand services that can be turned into great business opportunities for you. If you’re ready to explore the options available to make your career change from engineering to home service business ownership, take our online quiz and explore the top franchise brands Neighborly has to offer! 


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