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How to get into engineering and what to expect

Thinking of a new career in engineering? Here’s what you need to know about skills, salary, what to expect on the job and more.

The engineering sector covers many exciting and challenging areas of work across a wide variety of sectors. Whether you choose mechanical, electrical, industrial, chemical or civil engineering, a career in the sector requires strong critical thinking skills, scientific and mathematical ability and a genuine curiosity for how things work. It this applies to you, engineering could be the perfect career choice.

What types of roles are available?

Engineering roles are available across a wide number of industries – from aeronautics to defence, electronics to energy, and pharmaceuticals to telecommunications.

You can find a list of engineering careers (external website) at the National Careers Service, but here are some examples of the types of job roles available:

  • Chemical Engineer – aiding in the processing of food, creating industrial chemicals, and making pharmaceuticals
  • Civil Engineer – responsible for infrastructure – creating roads, bridges, dams, and buildings
  • Mechanical Engineer – designing and manufacturing products and machines
  • Electrical Engineer – working on electrical components, devices, and systems
  • Industrial Engineer – designing equipment, information systems and more

What qualifications and experience do I need?

A number of engineering employers (external website) run apprenticeships, available at intermediate, advanced, higher and degree level. To apply you’ll typically need Maths and Science qualifications. Some employers ask for specific science subjects and others don’t, but Maths is often required.

If you are working in a different sector and thinking of a career change, then an apprenticeship could be a great way in.

And don’t forget your transferable skills. If you love problem solving, have a logical approach have a great attention to detail, then engineering could be for you.

What can I expect?

  • A wide range of opportunities: The UK engineering sector is huge. The roles are incredibly varied and available across a number of sectors.
  • Professional development: Engineering offers a pathway of lifelong learning. Continuing professional development (external website) is encouraged and skills can be transferred to other industries should you decide to move on.

What about the pay?

This will depend on where you work, what type of role, and your level of experience when you commence your employment.

A typical salary for an engineering apprenticeship ranges between £12,000-£15,000. For a first engineering role after graduation, salaries range between £18,000-£35,000 (Source: Target Careers). The average salary for experienced engineering professionals in 2019 was £51,253 (Source: The Engineer).

As you gain qualifications and experience your salary can increase.

Ready to apply? For further information about opportunities in this sector please use the links below:   

Search for engineering jobs on the Find a job service (external website) and The Engineer website (external website)

More information for Graduates from Prospects (external website)