To become a chief engineer, you will usually be required to have at least a Bachelor of Science degree in the engineering field of your choice, preferably civil engineering. Many companies will require that you have a specific amount of experience in the field before you will be considered for a position of this magnitude. This career is also based on leadership skills and larger companies may require that you have at least 10 years experience in a similar position. Before deciding to embark on a career as a chief engineer, you should review various job descriptions and different engineering fields. Once you have chosen a specific field, you will need to research universities that offer a degree program that correlates with your career choice.
A four year undergraduate program will consist of prerequisite coursework and advanced courses that focus on your specified field. Before enrolling in courses, you should consult with a college adviser. Typically, an adviser can help you come up with a degree plan, and discuss the designated coursework needed to become a chief engineer.
Your prerequisites will most likely be heavily focused on mathematics and various sciences and you will need to successfully complete all necessary coursework before enrolling in advanced classes. Advanced coursework may vary depending on the type of engineering program you have chosen, but general classes may include introduction to engineering, engineering mechanics, and statics. You will also likely be required to study circuit analysis, fundamentals of engineering, and engineering analysis.
During your first two years of the undergraduate program, you should consider applying to internships in your field. These are excellent experience opportunities that allow you to receive hands-on training while closely observing the industry. Some students participate in several internships throughout their college career and these experiences will help you to become a chief engineer. Continuing your education to receive a master's degree in engineering can also improve your chances of entering this profession. Some students apply to entry level positions after receiving their B.S. and work their way through promotions to become a chief engineer.
When applying for this position, you will need to display characteristics that are needed to perform leadership duties including excellent communication skills, the ability to work with others, management skills, organization, and patience. Most companies may also provide in-house training in order to familiarize you with the specific workings of their company. There are also many continuing education courses, workshops, lectures, and reading materials that can keep you up-to-date on industry innovations.