13 November 2019

Starting your career in engineering

Engineering is at the heart of most of our day-to-day lives. Using scientific and mathematical principles, engineers are professionals in designing and producing products which solve specific needs. This can cover a variety of sectors, industries and scales, from erecting a skyscraper to building a common household lamp. With this, there are a multitude of engineering types and specialised fields, but the largest areas include chemical, civil, electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineering.

Starting your career in engineering:

When deciding whether a career in engineering is right for you, it’s useful to consider the attributes it takes to be successful and enjoy the role. If you have strong mathematical and analytical skills balanced with creativity, imagination and an attention to detail, then a career in engineering could be right for you. With an array of specialisms and roles working across multiple sectors and industries, there are areas suited to all candidates with different interests and strengths.

If you’re wanting to become an engineer, taking A-levels which include maths, science and design technology are key to accessing higher education. Apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular with employers who are looking for candidates who not only have a qualification, but also hands on experience. Apprenticeships allow you to earn money, whilst shadowing professionals and conducting supervised work which is why it is a popular alternative to university. Obtaining a degree in general engineering can be useful if you are unsure on what initial specialism to pursue. However, this may lead to further education or qualifications to go into specialised engineering roles such as civil, electrical and chemical. Universities offering degrees which are accredited by relevant professional bodies are becoming more common. This is a preferable choice, as it can aid you in reaching chartered status later in your career. Most engineers who have specialised in a specific area work towards attaining chartered status. This requires expertise and experience, but it is vital to accessing higher level and senior roles, especially if you are considering working abroad, as most chartered statuses are internationally recognised. Only certain areas of work are restricted in the UK to licensed or approved engineers, usually if it is related to health and safety. Although not mandatory in all fields, obtaining a licence is desirable to employers in all specialties.

Engineering Types:

Mechanical engineers take ideas and turn them into products and processes suitable for the marketplace and is relevant for nearly all products and services available to us. Therefore, it is a mechanical engineer’s role to assess all elements which will affect the product and its design and ensure that it will be functional in serving its purpose. A professional in this role will conduct research, plan and design the product, then trial and evaluate the results, recommending modifications where suitable. The breath of this discipline spreads across a wide range of industries such as aerospace, biotechnology and manufacturing, giving students who study this type of engineering valuable skills to launch careers in many other fields.

As the name would suggest, maintenance or service engineers are responsible for the maintenance of machinery and equipment, ensuring they remain as efficient and reliable as possible. Working alongside other professionals, these engineers will work to control and monitor this machinery, and where necessary, develop and design strategies to improve procedures and methods. Maintenance engineers usually work onsite at a plant or factory and can earn a range of salaries depending on the industry, location and size of the organisation and client.

As all software and systems in the technology industry need testing during their development, test engineers work closely with their developers to improve their quality and smooth running. This role is vital for mitigating risk and ensuring the product is safe, functional and commercially viable. Therefore, collecting and analysing data, detecting patterns and reporting back on usability are key responsibilities within this role. Although predominantly positioned within the technology industry, test engineers can work across sectors, as the need to test products and equipment is a necessity in all markets.

Having electricity in our homes, businesses and industries was all made possible by electrical engineers. Electrical engineers operate within the design, development and maintenance of electrical and electronic control systems, power, telecommunications and signal processing. The role may operate within many sectors including industrial, transportation, construction and production depending on the specification and therefore, the work environment can change, with work locations varying from workshops and offices to laboratories and factories. This exciting career develops an array of transferable skills, which opens doors to progress into research and design, project management and academic roles.

Operating within the manufacturing and service industries, industrial engineers oversee and devise systems to improve and develop operations integrated within machines, information, energy and the workers. The role focuses on making a process as efficient as possible, balancing a multitude of factors like cost, time, labour force, technology and equipment. Therefore, problem solving and critical thinking are vital attributes to professionals in this career path. Actively engaging in supply chains, industrial engineers gain experience which can be transferred across sectors and industries, meaning the location of work can change depending on the project at hand.

We have a variety of engineering roles currently available. To view all our vacancies and read more about the sectors we recruit for, click here.