In a discussion on Google+, Daniel Lemire argues that engineers end up essentially being accountants.
Engineering, at least how it is practiced in North America, is hardly very exciting. … By the time you have your degree, you have 5–10 years to go before, if you have any ambition, you end up a manager of some kind, doing more or less what your friends who went into accounting do. … No, you don’t get to build anything, technicians do that … you only approve their expense reports …
Of course there are exceptions, but the career path Daniel describes is common. And it’s not unique to engineering. It’s a sort of variation on the Peter Principle. Many people find themselves approving expense reports for people who do the work they enjoy doing, or used to enjoy doing.
What can you do if you want to avoid going into management/accounting? Here are a few ideas.
- Be content with a lower salary.
- Work for smaller companies.
- Work for specialized companies, e.g. an engineering firm.
- Go out on your own (but watch out for the e-myth).
- Spend a lot of time searching for a job.