11 of the Most Popular Hobbies for Engineers

Engineers, like everyone else, need some time to rest and unwind: here's what most of them do in their free time.
Christopher McFadden
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Hobbies are one of the best ways of keeping your mental health in tip-top condition and even engineers can benefit greatly from them. They keep your mind active, help develop some real, tangible skills, and can also provide a great way to socialize with like-minded individuals.

In fact, some studies also show that they can provide a great means of handling some very serious mental health issues, and in some circumstances can also greatly improve your general fitness and wellbeing. 

Engineers, like all humans beings, need some downtime from time to time. There are few things better than indulging in a hobby or two to take you away from the stresses of modern life.

So what are the most popular hobbies for engineers?

While there is a vast array of hobby choices out there, you can see a general trend with the choices of hobbies engineers tend to be drawn to. As you are about to find out. 

The following list is, as you'd expect, far from exhaustive and is in no particular hobby. If your particular hobby (or hobbies) isn't listed here don't take it personally, this is just a general trend you'll find when polling them.

1. Brewing beer or fermenting wine is both fun and saves you money

hobbies for engineers brewing
Source: Makyo/Wikimedia Commons

Many engineers prefer to take up hobbies that take them away from their "day job". One popular hobby appears to be brewing beer.

Not only is this a highly rewarding thing to do, but it also saves you a pretty penny (over the long run). As you are probably more than aware, you can either buy ready-made kits or source all the components and ingredients needed yourself.

A word of caution, however, this hobby does tend to smell a bit.

For more advanced brewers, you can begin to experiment by adding in other ingredients to produce your very own flavor of beer. If you are not a big fan of beer, you could always try fermenting wines instead.

For those who have more of a sweet tooth, you could always consider making mead, too! 

2. Woodworking and metalworking can be quite calming

hobbies for engineers woodworking
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Much like brewing beer, many engineers like to keep themselves busy with something productive that isn't necessarily related to their work. Woodworking and metalworking, it turns out, are also very popular pastimes for engineers.

Whether that is making basic furniture or more complex projects, woodworking is both enjoyable and rewarding. You never know when this hobby might turn into a burning passion, perhaps even a new career down the line.

Many attest to the connection they get working with their hands and wood or metal. The smell, texture, and satisfaction it brings when you put together something you've honed and designed yourself is almost unparalleled.

Whilst this is a great hobby for anyone, not just engineers, these hobbies do require some initial investment to acquire the materials, tools, and equipment you'll need.

3. You could try outdoor sports

hobbies for engineers outdoor
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From mountain biking to kayaking, outdoor sports are another way engineers like to let their hair down. Of course, this is not going to be for everyone, but if you love the outdoors you might want to consider this as a hobby.

Not only do they tend to keep you fit, but you also get plenty of sunshine and a chance to get from behind the desk. Obviously, this kind of hobby does come with the very real risk of getting injured, but for some, that's part of the fun.

If you find yourself cooped up a lot with your work, you might want to seriously consider any kind of outdoor sport as a hobby to keep you sane - and healthy.

4. Shooting and bullet-making could take the edge off

hobbies for engineers shooting
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Although not for everyone, shooting can be a very rewarding hobby. We are not talking about hunting here, but rather recreational use of a shooting range or similar institution.

Many who shoot like to understand the basic mechanics of their weapons and take great pride in cleaning and repairing them themselves. Some also like to make their own bullets (called handloading) - though not necessarily for the sake of saving money.

Like the guns themselves, anyone who makes their own ammunition partakes in it for the pure academic pleasure of it (usually).

5. How about recreational flying?

hobbies for engineers flying
Source: USAF/Wikimedia Commons

Other engineers seem to like to take to the air during their free time. This hobby is highly demanding of your mental faculties and tends to be quite an expensive undertaking -- so bear that in mind.

But the costs are far outweighed by the pleasures it brings to anyone lucky enough to do this.

Piloting an aircraft requires you to understand, or at least grasp, a wide range of subjects. These include mechanics, physics, meteorology, aerodynamics, and navigation to name but a few. And, of course, you will need to be licensed.

What could be better than escaping the rat race high in the sky - at least for a few short hours.

6. Do video games count as a hobby?

hobbies for engineers https://images.interestingengineering.com/images/NOVEMBER/ps-video-games.jpg
Source: christianladewig0/Pixabay

You might not be very surprised to hear that playing video games is a popular hobby among engineers. While not as "productive" as some of the other hobbies listed here, it is certainly a fun and great way to escape reality.

After all, that's what they were designed to do.

Many may frown upon playing computer games as a pastime, but it is an incredibly popular form of entertainment. Not all games are the same, however, and some can be very challenging indeed.

Studies have also shown video games can bring you real-life benefits,  in terms of improvement in cognitive function. But they can also consume vast amounts of your life if you are not careful -- so be warned!

7. Playing musical instruments is a great hobby

hobbies for engineers instruments
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While this hobby is certainly not unique to engineers alone, it is another great way to spend your free time (when you finally have some). 

Playing a musical instrument develops patience, tactile precision and opens up your more creative and, dare we say, "artistic" side. Instruments like, say, the guitar, also require you to employ a surprising amount of maths and analytical skills to succeed.

For this reason, playing musical instruments not only provides you with entertainment and a feeling of self-improvement, but it will also work that gray matter and could help with your day job.

Win-win. Who knows, you might even start a band and become fabulously wealthy one day (or not).

8. Tinkering with Arduino/Rasberry Pi, etc is a great pastime

hobbies for engineers https://images.interestingengineering.com/images/JANUARY/raspberry-pi-arduino.jpg
Source: redcctshirt/Flickr

Electrical, software, and mechanical engineers seem to have a great fondness for tinkering around with Arduino and Raspberry Pi projects. Considering their professions, this should probably not come as much of a surprise.

Many attest to the satisfaction they take from designing a system, building it, coding it, and watching it work exactly as intended.

Some also turn this hobby into a money-making machine by building cryptocurrency mining rigs and the like. Others do it just for the challenge and giggles.

Many others also develop Arduino systems for some form of home automation like watering plants or making their homes "smart", etc.

9. Many engineers like to tinker with old cars

hobbies for engineers cars
Source: 李火增/Wikimedia Commons

Another popular hobby for engineers is to tinker with or completely refurbish old cars, bikes, and other vehicles. Whilst this is probably more like a "busman's holiday" kind of hobby, it's certainly incredibly enjoyable and rewarding.

While this hobby does require some time to get up to speed on the basics, there are plenty of books and video guides online (like YouTube) to help you out. In fact, this might be another hobby that turns into a full-time obsession.

You might even be able to monetize it on platforms like YouTube if you get good enough. DIY car maintenance and repair is the gift that keeps on giving.

10. Tabletop gaming and modeling are "where it's at"

hobbies for engineers boardgames
Source: Eric Savage/Wikimedia Commons

Creating miniature models for wargaming is another popular hobby among engineers and other like-minded people. While not the "coolest" of hobbies to outsiders, those who subscribe to it say there is no better hobby out there.

This hobby can be relatively cheap, although some model lines can become very expensive hobbies. Shops like Games Workshop, for example, can, if you are not careful, become a big money drain.


The motivation for hobbyists in this area does vary widely, with some preferring the strategic challenge of wargaming, while others preferring to simply collect, paint, and customize models. 

Board games like chess and Monopoly are also very popular and we are currently, believe it or not, in a kind of new 'Golden Age' for this kind of hobby.

Over the last few decades, there has been a massive resurgence in the popularity in general of board games, with many new and exciting game designs being brought to market almost every week, it seems.

Boardgames and other tabletop games are also a great way to meet new, like-minded, individuals and many games tend to have a vibrant and very friendly community.

This is certainly something to consider if you have historically been into computer games but are looking for something a little more sociable. 

11. Model railways, airplanes, rockets - basically model anything

hobbies for engineers models
Source: Graham Causer/Wikimedia Commons

Following on nicely from our previous entry, building model railways, airplanes, rockets, or basically anything, is also very popular among engineering folks. Given the skills and interests involved with this kind of hobby, this should probably not come as much of a surprise.

Model making, whether it be using off-the-shelf kits or making your own miniature machines, is a very rewarding and immersive hobby. Oftentimes hobbies like model railways go far beyond just laying tracks and buying new and wonderful engines.

Serious model makers will also create entirely new worlds around their railways or ultra-realistic dioramas for other model kits. They may also build working miniature mechanical engines entirely from scratch!

And that, hobbyist-to-be, is your lot for today. 

Any, and all, of these hobbies, are great ways to spend your free time and keep your brain, and body, performing at peak performance. Selecting one, or many, of the above will seriously enrich your life in ways far beyond your comprehension. 

Who knows, one day you may become so proficient at them that it could become an avenue to give up your day job? So, get out there and experiment with some of these to see which one, if any, is the best fit for you. 

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