In which countries are engineers highly regarded?
Studying abroad - the right choice for prospective engineers?
Experience abroad is very much appreciated by most employers, but does that also apply to a full course of study? Are foreign qualifications recognized in Germany at all? We have put together the most important information.
Photo: panthermedia.net / Faithie
The question of whether studying abroad would be the right choice is difficult for many aspiring engineers to answer. Because the decision depends primarily on the plans for your own career - and these are often quite vague before you start your studies. What are the arguments in favor of studying engineering abroad?
What are the technical arguments for studying abroad?
Several factors can speak in favor of studying abroad:
- The envisaged course or focus is not offered in this form in Germany.
- You are planning to study abroad to study with a professor who is considered a luminary in his field, which is why a degree could spur your career.
- You are aiming to study abroad at a particularly renowned university that is known for its demanding courses, such as Stanford or MIT. A degree there is considered a door opener for many jobs.
Further arguments for studying abroad only indirectly inspire a career:
- You already have a dream employer in mind and studying abroad could be helpful for this goal. For example, it is an international group that has its headquarters abroad.
- You would like to start networking while studying abroad and make important international contacts. This can be particularly useful if you are aiming for a career in science as an engineer.
- In principle, globalization in the labor market for engineers continues, so that the willingness to go abroad can be a great advantage when applying. If necessary, it is even possible to get hold of an internship at an international corporation while studying abroad.
Which soft skills does an engineer acquire for his career?
In addition, a longer stay abroad generally means that you as a future engineer will acquire important soft skills:
- linguistic proficiency: If you study in a foreign language, you will usually have a very good command of it, including the relevant technical terms. Nowadays, English is considered the most important business and science language. If you want to make a career as an engineer, possibly in an international corporation, you should make sure that you can represent your concerns in English. By the way: English-language courses are not only offered in English-speaking countries. You can find out which other foreign languages could be important here.
- Dealing with other cultures: Even within Europe there are big differences when it comes to manners in private and professional environments. Studying abroad gives you the ability to better adapt to other cultures. It would be ideal to supplement the study abroad with an internship.
- Personality development: You gain valuable experience at a foreign university, get to know other perspectives and ways of working. You no longer have to prove your flexibility at a later interview. You have also shown that you can cope with difficult conditions. Because organizing a study abroad is associated with a number of hurdles, such as a special application process, looking for accommodation, health insurance and so on. In other words: Those who study abroad do not necessarily choose the easiest route, but usually pursue a clear goal. These are all qualities that employers look for in engineers.
Do I have the right personality to study abroad?
In addition to the study place and financing, some other formalities for studying abroad have to be clarified, especially language tests, health insurance and accommodation. However, many prospective students forget the most important question about organizational matters: Are you even suitable for studying abroad? Because that means living in another country for some time, usually away from family and friends and maybe even your partner. In addition, you are in an unfamiliar environment, confronted with a more or less foreign culture. These aspects should not be underestimated, as it is a period of several years, depending on the targeted degree.
In case of doubt, it can therefore make perfect sense to work abroad for a few months or, ideally, to complete a first internship before starting your studies abroad - to get a feel for what life in another country means.
Scholarships, education loans & Co. - how can I finance studying abroad?
Let's start with the most obvious point on the negative side: studying abroad usually costs more money than studying domestically. Because tuition fees are due for most international universities. The cost of living is also higher in many countries than in Germany. The elite universities in particular call for proud prizes. For example, anyone who gets one of the coveted places at the American Harvard University must expect tuition fees of currently almost 31,500 US dollars (over 28,000 euros) - per year. Funding must of course be secured so that an unencumbered study is possible
Scholarships for studying abroad
There is an opportunity to apply for scholarships. If you really want to apply to an elite university like Harvard, the chances of a partial or full scholarship are certainly good. Because the most important criterion is excellent performance. And if you cannot prove this, you will not be awarded a place at the university. In addition to university scholarships, there are a number of other funding opportunities to finance your studies. These include special scholarships for the Mint subjects of mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology. The website stipendienlotse.de, which is a database of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, provides good orientation.
BaföG application for studying abroad
If the parents' financial possibilities are limited, you should also apply for BAföG. A full course of study abroad can, under certain circumstances, be funded over the entire period if there is a fundamental entitlement. That applies at least to studying abroad within the EU and Switzerland. The responsible BAföG office will inform you individually about possible funding for studying in other countries.
Jobs while studying abroad
Of course, students can also work abroad to earn money for a living. Keep in mind, however, that if you study abroad you will usually have to plan more time for studying and writing homework because you are studying in a foreign language.
Education loans for studying abroad
If there is still a funding gap for studying abroad, education loans may be an alternative. But since you have to pay off these in your later professional life, you should not underestimate the financial burden and only take out educational loans if there are very good arguments in favor of studying abroad.
Basically you should make a realistic calculation of the costs of studying abroad at the university of your choice before you make a decision. If necessary, it is advisable to apply to German universities in parallel - until it is clear whether scholarships or other funding options will be approved.
Which criteria apply to the search for the right university?
Two portals are important contact points where you can get valuable tips and, in some cases, services for organizing a study abroad and choosing a university. On the one hand, there is the German Academic Exchange Service and, on the other hand, College Contact GmbH, which, according to its own information, currently represents over 200 universities worldwide and offers free assistance in choosing the right university.
As a budding engineer, you have to weigh two sides against each other while looking for a university for your study abroad: What options do you have? And what do you get from these opportunities?
In the first place when looking for a university is Language barrier. As a rule, it makes most sense to study in English, as it has established itself as a common language among engineers on the international stage. I would like to point out once again: In many countries, international courses are offered in English, regardless of the host country's native language. Further criteria for choosing a university can be:
- Is the university located in a country with a high technical level? This is important so that the study abroad gives a good impression on the résumé. You also have better chances of qualified internships during your studies.
- Does the engineering school have a good call? Maybe even a particularly renowned professor?
- Selection process: Where would you even have a chance of being accepted?
- The planned degree in Germany is expected to be full accepted?
- Would be studying at the university of your choice affordable?
How does studying abroad change the chances on the job market?
This question can not be answered generally. This also means that studying abroad is not automatically a boost for your career. Of course, degrees from elite universities are almost a guarantee for a successful career. However, those who did their Masters in Holland, for example, do not automatically gain an advantage over competitors with German degrees. In addition to the reputation of the college and the exact subject you studied, the type of degree you graduate can play a role in your career. A doctorate in the USA, for example, usually works faster than in Germany, but is also not viewed quite as highly by many employers. If, on the other hand, it was completed at a renowned university and the employer of choice is an international corporation, the assessment is different again.
The comparison of degrees has become a little easier thanks to the introduction of Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Germany - in the past, many companies clearly preferred German graduate engineers (Dipl.-Ing.). Despite the introduction of a Bachelor's and Master's degree, engineering studies in Germany are still considered to be of high quality, which does not apply to every study abroad. On the other hand, globally operating companies attach great importance to international experience. The bottom line is that studying abroad is only a door opener for your career if it has taken place at a high level and fits your individual career plans.
Do you already have a dream job in your sights? Then do not hesitate to call the HR department of the respective company and ask for an assessment of the planned study abroad.
Are qualifications from abroad recognized without any problems?
The completion of a degree abroad cannot be transferred one-to-one to the requirements in Germany. One of the first points of contact is the Recognition-in-deutschland.de portal operated by the Federal Government. In the case of engineers, there is another special feature: The job title “engineer” is protected and subject to fixed criteria, some of which differ from one another in the various federal states and are defined by the engineering laws.
For a career as an engineer, it is therefore essential to find out before starting a degree abroad whether the planned course fulfills the necessary requirements for the graduate to be able to call himself an engineer in Germany. Information on the criteria for the professional title of engineer is available from the federal state chambers of engineers. They also take care of the later recognition of the qualification.
BAföG or student loan - how do I finance my studies?
A contribution by:
Nicole Lücke does science journalism for research centers and universities, reports on medical congresses and looks after customer magazines for energy providers. She is a shareholder of content qualities. Your topics: energy, technology, sustainability, medicine / medical technology.
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