If you're about to graduate with an Engineering degree this summer, you might have some firm ideas on what you want to do next. But as Engineering covers a wide range of specialities, it can be hard to narrow down the options if you are still deciding!

With a shortage of qualified Engineers in the UK, it’s never been a better time to train, and enter the sector.

1. What kind of skills do I need to be an engineer?

As with any career options in STEM sectors, you are going to need good A Levels, and very often, a good degree, however you’ll also need to be:

  • Good at project management
  • Organised
  • Logical
  • Able to think clearly
  • Able to cope with new challenges
  • A great communicator
  • Good at noticing the detail

2. What are my options after graduation?

The great news is that with an engineering degree, you’ll have lots of doors open to you.

It’s important to remember that you’ll be able to look for vacancies outside of the traditional engineering sector, with areas such as logistics, supply chain operations, IT, finance, teaching and procurement offering suitable roles for engineering graduates.

Not only are there lots of different sectors to consider, but specialities are also something to consider. This is where you can fine tune your engineering skills to suit your interests, and sector demands, and you’ll be able to do this through further postgraduate study, or in-work experience. Popular engineering specialities include:

  • Mechanical engineering
  • Materials Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Software Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering

As you can see, there really is an option for everyone, and a speciality to suit a variety of interests.

After graduation, most engineers go on to full time employment, or further study.

3. What can I expect to earn?

As engineers are in short supply, the good news is that you can expect to earn a good salary, even as a new graduate. This can vary regionally, from around £18,000 to £26,000.  

Graduate schemes are also a useful option for gaining post-graduate experience, and frequently offer salaries around £22 - £30,000.

As an established engineer, with a few years’ experience under your belt, an average salary of £40,000+ can be expected.

4. How can I choose which sector is best for me?

This is the tricky part as there is so many options to choose from.

You need to consider your interests, as there is no point doing a job you hate, so if you like chemistry, then chemical engineering might be for you. Alternatively, if construction is your thing then civil engineering might be a better fit.

Also, different sectors require a different lifestyle, for instance, in petroleum engineering, you might be required to “Fly in, Fly out”, which basically means you would be living away from home, on site for a period of time. If this isn’t for you, and you need something a bit more 9 – 5, then there are roles to be found in other sectors. Other things to consider include:

  • Whether you can do shift work?
  • Do you like working outdoors?
  • Are you happy to travel (i.e. do you need to work from one location or are happy to travel to many locations)?

Are you good at technical roles or are you more of a trouble-shooter? Different engineering sectors and specialities will need different personalities, so if you are great at problem solving or, alternatively, great at following a specification, there will be a role for you.

It’s also important to bear in mind the size of organisation, can have some bearing on your future options. Some industries have a few larger employers, and in these organisations you can normally expect to find great opportunities for networking and training opportunities, however a smaller employer often gives the opportunity for faster progression, and the ability to gain wok experience in a particular niche.

It’s a great idea to speak to current employers, employees and recruiters to get a better idea of the reality of working in the sector/specialities you are researching, as very often, the lived experience can be completely different to what you expect!

5. How can I boost my chances of being hired?

Aside from having a great degree, and experience, joining an Engineering Institution, that is registered with the Engineering Council, can be a great way to network with employers and other engineers, develop your skills with further CPD (Continuing Professional Development) and also shows your dedication to the industry.

Having a great degree classification is a great starting point, but postgraduate study is also a great way to stand out from the crowd. It also allows you to fine tune your skills, making you a valuable addition to an employer.

6. Who are the potential employers of engineers?

With so many sectors, and specialities, needing engineers, you can find suitable vacancies in most large organisations.

Popular employers of engineering graduates include: