Many engineers believe, for whatever reason, that the first 10 years of their engineering careers—or longer—must be spent sitting in a cubicle crunching numbers.

    A critical component of building flexibility into your career and lifestyle is building your reputation. It’s important that you gain expertise and the proper credentials that will allow you to work independently as a consultant or freelancer, which can offer more freedom and flexibility than a typical 9-to-5 job.
    Building your skills and resume should be done immediately when you enter into a new industry, whether you are a recent engineering graduate or a veteran looking to change disciplines or start your own engineering firm.
    By building your resume and skills early on in your pursuit of a goal, you are immediately putting yourself in a great position to succeed.
    Working independently on your own terms can not only dramatically increase your enjoyment level in your career and life but also eliminate the salary limitations that you may have with a typical corporate engineering job.
    When you have freedom, you can work on what you WANT to work on every day.
    Your engineering degree provides you with an analytical method of thinking that you can utilize in all aspects of your life.
    When preparing to leave a traditional engineering job, ensure that you consider a plan B to fall back on if your new venture doesn’t work. For example, do you have your professional engineering license? If not, could you get it if you leave your traditional job and then try to come back to it in a few years?
    Always utilize your downtime to better yourself.

If you are looking to build more freedom and flexibility into your engineering career and life, implementing some of the strategies listed above should help you do so. Don’t spend 20 years in a cubicle if you don’t want to; you certainly don’t have to.

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