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A Guide to Engineering Careers

Mizio de Sousa

The engineering field encompasses a wide variety of jobs, with various roles and responsibilities that make the sector a diverse place to work. Here, we delve into the world of engineering careers, the required qualifications, and where you can expect to be working.

What qualifications do you need to become an engineer?

The most common route is to go through university. Usually, to get into an engineering degree, you’ll need to do Maths and some Science A-Levels at school. If you feel like you haven’t got the necessary entry requirements, you can always opt to do a foundation year, which most universities in the UK offer. You should also consider doing a four-year degree option with a year in the industry; this will give you a head start when you graduate and valuable industry experience.

Another popular way into engineering is to go through an apprenticeship. This provides you with a combination of work and study, where you’ll start earning from the get-go whilst you achieve your qualifications. Many employers offer apprenticeships, including the Royal Navy, the Army, motorsport teams, car manufacturers, and construction firms.

What engineering roles are available?

The type of roles available to you will depend on your chosen area and where you do your apprenticeship. If you decide to go through the apprenticeship route, you should think about where you want your career to go since you can start at the type of company you want from the get-go.

If you’re opting to go via the University route, the types of roles available will depend on the kind of engineering course you choose to study. Although there’s a lot of cross-learning between the fields, each course will focus on a specific engineering area. For instance:

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers are employed to design and solve issues related to machinery. Your job will include analysing production to identify machinery issues, developing new machinery systems to improve production or safety, and overseeing the production of new devices. Typical employers include:

  • Vehicle manufacturers
  • Machinery manufacturers
  • Aerospace companies

Civil engineering

As a civil engineer, you’ll have the extremely rewarding job of designing, improving, and building the infrastructure around us. Common projects you’ll work on include:

  • Bridges
  • Roads
  • Hospitals
  • Airports
  • Railways
  • Schools
  • Building developments

Within civil engineering, there’s plenty of areas to specialise in, such as structural, water, and design engineering.

Chemical engineering

As a chemical engineer, you’ll get to work on the production and design of chemical processes for various industries. You’ll take raw materials and turn them into useful products that society can use. Common sectors include:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Plastics
  • Food processing
  • Water treatment

Electrical engineering

The electrical engineer is in charge of everything to do with electronics and electricity. Roles will vary between designing, maintaining and overseeing the manufacturing of large electrical systems for a range of clients. You’ll find electrical engineers employed by companies in:

  • Transportation
  • IT
  • Telecoms
  • Manufacturing

Can you switch specialisations?

Many universities offer a masters course for engineering graduates that want to switch their specialisation. So if you think you’ll change your mind, there’s always the opportunity to switch.

Also, as an engineer, you’ll have skills sought after by a range of other sectors. Many graduates and apprentices pursue different routes upon graduation, such as programming or architecture.

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