Introduction to Engineering
Engineering is the use of mathematical, scientific and technical knowledge to design, develop and build structures and machines from raw materials. Although best known for the design of machinery such as cars, it encompasses a wide range of fields including aeronautical, chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical engineering.
In every case, you’ll be involved in researching, designing and developing new systems, structures and processes, as well as improving existing ones.
What roles are open to me?
There are six main types of engineering: chemical, civil, electrical, management, mechanical and geothermal, although there are many subcategories that fall under these six branches. As a result, there is a wide range of engineering roles to choose from, including design, development, production, research, maintenance and project management roles. The job, sector and company that’s best for you can be narrowed down based on the kind of degree you studied, which will normally focus on one of these 12 fields:
- Architectural Engineering
- Biological Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Chemical Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Engineering Management
- Environmental Engineering
- Geotechnical Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Project Management
- Online Engineering
Depending on which one you choose, some of the roles open to you will include:
- Civil Engineer
- Design Architect
- Mechanical Engineer
- Project Engineer
- Software Engineer
- Structural Engineer
Some of the biggest companies for engineering include Google, Microsoft, IBM, Sony, BMW, Intel, General Electric, Siemens, Procter & Gamble, Apple, Johnson and Johnson, Shell, Toyota, Ford, NASA, Network Rail, British Energy, Unilever and BT.
What qualifications and skills do I need?
Graduates will need a degree in the branch of engineering they wish to work in. Some employers require an Integrated Masters MEng degree - a four-year course that gives the student a Masters level qualification and Chartered Engineer status. Others require a BEng - a standard three-year degree course. Sometimes, employers will also accept degrees in related subjects, such as chemistry, maths and physics.
Engineering can be hard to break into without a relevant degree, though apprenticeships are an excellent way of gaining experience, skills and contacts. Another way to enter the industry is to apply for a role as an Engineering Technician. This generally requires a diploma, apprenticeship, work-based learning programme or 2-year degree from a college, industrial school or institute of higher education; the right combination of non-university qualifications and experience can also result in technician status.
Following graduation, Chartered Engineers will need to complete an introductory development period to achieve full engineer status. Many large firms will also offer on-the-job training and may sponsor you to study part time towards an MSc, if you do not already have one.
The application process varies depending on the company and role in question, however most will follow the steps below:
- Online application form and situational judgement questionnaire
- Online testing
- Interview and technical interview
- Assessment Centre
Most engineering firms start recruiting before the deadline stated on the application. As most companies will have limited spaces available, it’s worthwhile applying as soon as possible for graduate programmes and newly advertised roles, to give yourself the best chance of securing an interview and, hopefully, the job.
The average salary depends on the role, the level of entry, and the qualifications you bring with you - all salaries shown are per year.
As a general rule, candidates with an MEng will be eligible for higher salaries than candidates with a BEng. The average graduate starting salary is £25,000, although it can range from £21,000 to £33,000, depending on the company.
As you develop in your role, your salary will increase. The average for experienced MEng-qualified engineers is circa £62,000, although this can rise to over £100,000. For experienced BEng qualified engineers, the average salary is £56,000, rising to over £75,000 in some cases. Additional company benefits can include a welcome bonus, pension, flexible working hours and paid overtime.
Are there any downsides?
Despite its many advantages, there are some downsides to a career in engineering. The hours can be long, and the workload unpredictable, demanding and stressful, especially if you’re working on projects that impact human life and welfare.
Is it right for me?
Despite some negative aspects, engineering can be an incredibly well respected and rewarding career. The benefits extend far beyond the often excellent salaries, and include interesting and varied work, excellent opportunities for progression and promotion, and the chance to get involved in ground-breaking projects and research. Visit our forum to find out more.
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