Engineering the Right Career

Careers Advice
09 January 2014 | Careers Advice | thomas thomas

Solving problems is what engineering is all about, and you’ll be surprised at some of the specialisms you could work in. Anita Peach discovers what to do with your engineering degree.

For an industry renowned for training and structured career development, technically challenging projects and competitive salaries, the opportunities really are out there for the right candidates.

Tap the words ‘Engineering’ and ‘Career’ into Google and you’ll realise the size and strength of the industry. However, making sense of it all can be quite a challenge, so talking to people is always advisable.

And at a time when funds may be low, you may ask ‘Why should I join an engineering institution?’ The reason is a little more complex as the benefits are multifaceted.

Role of an institution
Membership of an engineering institution licensed by the Engineering Council UK (ECUK), is the first step to securing your professional standing.

There are 35 engineering bodies accredited by the ECUK; for information visit

Depending on the route you take, you can achieve the status of Engineering Technician, Incorporated Engineer or Chartered Engineer. Chartered status is normally achieved through the academic route but can also be achieved by progressing through the various states of accreditation.

Other valuable sources of information are recruitment exhibitions. This is a great opportunity to meet potential employers face to face, learn about specific companies and get yourself noticed.

The National Engineering and Construction Recruitment Exhibition offers careers advice and vacancies for engineering and construction professionals.

A career in engineering will give you choice and variety, and you may want to dabble in different sectors before you choose an area that suits yours.

Engineering spans the breadth of so many sectors giving graduates a great range of work opportunities. If, for example, you’ve completed a degree in civil engineering you could work in sectors like construction, defence, energy, pharmaceuticals, rail, telecoms or chemicals. The crossover of industries means that most engineering degrees do not then commit you to working in one specific sector, but instead leave the door open for more choices.

Changing perceptions
What are your thoughts about engineers and engineering? Stuffy suits or hard hats and overalls? Cast aside those misconceptions – engineers are the ultimate trendsetters!

Retailers and advertising agencies may have been the first to tell you about the latest gadgets, but the chances are engineers were the driving force that brought these ideas from the drawing board to your home.

Engineers question what many people expect. They strive to take technology to uncharted waters, leading to better lifestyle experiences for us all.

While industry perceptions are changing, the Institute of Engineering and Technology is concerned that out of 243,000 registered engineers only 7,608 of those are women – a mere three per cent!

Despite stereotypes, engineering really isn’t a ‘man’s job’. Slowly the industry is starting to reverse the ingrained trend, with more women studying and working as engineers.

Education is crucial to the industry and changing dated perceptions will help fill those vacancies that often remain empty.

Candidates with rounded skill sets, such as strong communication and team working skills will find their employability increase. Employers want to see an investigative mind and problem solving capabilities, as well as computer software and organisational skills. Those with project management skills and languages are also in great demand.

• The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is one of the world’s leading professional societies for the engineering and technology community
•  The ECUK licenses the IET to assess applicants for the status of Chartered Engineering (CEng), Incorporated Engineering (IEng) and Engineering Technician (Eng.Tech.)
•    Find out more at

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