The different types of engineering sectors

Careers Advice
30 May 2015 | Careers Advice | thomas thomas

Engineering is a thriving industry with over 1.7 million people employed in the UK. There are a huge number of jobs available within the engineering industry which provides opportunities for entry level positions all the way through to management or senior levels. Many companies seek candidates who have experience in the engineering field, voluntary included! They can also seek you out at our upcoming exhibitions - book your free tickets today!

If you’re thinking of forging an exciting new career in engineering then here is your guide to the different sectors within engineering and the qualifications you need to kick-start this fantastic new career. Simply click on the sector which interests you the most to find out more about it.


Aerospace & Avionics Engineering

What is Aerospace & Avionics Engineering?

Aerospace and avionics engineering jobs is a sector which employs the engineers responsible for the design and structure of air transport vehicles, such as aeroplanes or spacecraft, as well as the internal structure of the aircraft, such as its communication systems and fuel monitors. Aerospace engineers are responsible for the structure of the craft itself whereas Avionics engineers deals with the internal electronics of the craft.

Essential Aerospace & Avionics Engineer Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree in aerospace engineering or avionics
  • An electrical, mechanical or physics engineering subject
  • Strong mathematics and IT skills, as well as a strong knowledge of CAD (computer aided design) or CAM (computer aided manufacturing) software

Applications Engineering

What is Applications Engineering?

The job description of an applications engineer jobs can vary depending on the chosen industry. Generally, this type of engineer takes care of the implementation and design of computer programs or specialist industry equipment in most cases. The primary role of this engineer is to build and test as well as design these products based on the clients’ needs.

Essential Applications Engineer Qualifications/Skills

  • Solid communication skills
  • Ability to be able to deal with complex projects
  • A degree in software engineering or computer science

Architectural Engineering

What is Architectural Engineering?

Architectural engineering is the design and the application of engineering principles in the development of buildings and structures. The architectural engineer has expertise in physics, mathematics and of course, engineering. The primary job of this engineer is to orchestrate the construction of the building, as well as its structural integrity and electrical systems.

Essential Architectural Engineer Qualifications/Skills

  • Qualifications in a physics or mathematics-related subject
  • The ability to work in teams, as well as being able to utilise extensive engineering knowledge

Automotive Engineering

What is Automotive Engineering?

Automotive engineering is the process of the design, production and operation of vehicles such as cars, trucks, buses and other ground-based vehicles. From the early stages of design to the production, an automotive engineer oversees all aspects of the product design lifecycle of a vehicle.

Essential Automotive Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree in either mechanical, automotive, electrical or production and manufacturing engineering
  • The ability to analyse and interpret data, have a unique approach to problem solving, along with the ability to be able to prioritise workloads and stick to tight deadlines

Building Services Engineering?

What is Building Services Engineering?

Being a building services engineer involves a number of tasks depending on which area of work it is, but it generally involves the development of the internal functions of a building, such as the power, health and safety, security and heating. The engineer negotiates contracts for the project as well as organising the work of the contractors involved.

Essential Building Services Engineer Qualifications/Skills

  • Qualifications in public health, mechanical engineering or electrical engineering
  • Being able to negotiate and develop contracts for projects with clients and managing and forecasting expenditure, keeping the project to budget are all highly desirable skills in this sector

Chemical Engineering

What is Chemical Engineering?

Chemical engineering is the development and experimentation of machines and plants, which lead to chemical reactions in order to create valuable products and solve everyday problems. Many industries such as pharmaceutical, energy and water treatment facilities harness chemical engineering.

Essential Chemical Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • An accredited BEng degree in chemical engineering or process engineering
  • The ability to manage budgets, time, projects and people

Civil Engineering

What is Civil Engineering?

Civil engineering is the design of structures such as bridges, tunnels, car parks, train stations or railways. There are two types of civil engineer jobs – consulting and contracting. A consulting civil engineer is responsible for the communication of the plan between the client and contracting engineers. The contracting engineers take the plans from the consulting engineer and begin physical development of the project.

Essential Civil Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree or postgraduate master’s degree in civil engineering
  • Strong maths and IT skills as well as being able to articulate design ideas

Commercial Engineering

What is Commercial Engineering?

Commercial engineering involves the creation of landmark buildings but is generally a broad role which covers a range of engineers who have extensive knowledge, not only for the practical applications of engineering, but also the needs of businesses and prospective customers.

Essential Commercial Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Generally, skills for this sector include strong interpersonal skills, being able to manage projects in tight deadlines and ability to think outside of the box

Commissioning Engineering

What is Commissioning Engineering?

In commissioning engineering, the engineers involved oversee the installation of the systems onsite and is generally responsible for the troubleshooting and client operation training. Writing reports and documentation as well as co-ordinating work to deadlines are tasks which a commissioning engineer is typically responsible for.

Essential Commissioning Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree in a mechanical, civil or electrical field
  • Problem solving, managerial and leadership and strong people and communication skills

Computing and IT Engineering

What is Computing and IT Engineering?

Generally trained in software design and hardware/software integration, computing and IT engineering is the process of analysing and designing hardware, software and operating systems for computers. These engineers focus on making computers faster and more efficient.

Essential Computing and IT Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Essential qualifications for a role in this sector include a software or computer science related degree
  • Desired skills are critical thinking, time management and quality control analysis

Construction Engineering

What is Construction Engineering?

Construction engineering is an important part of the development of a construction project. This particular role involves planning and directing projects, from the initial design of the project right the way through to conducting surveys and overseeing daily construction activities, making sure the plans are on the right track.

Essential Construction Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree in either engineering mechanics or engineering design can lead to a role in this field
  • Being able to solve problems, possessing strong analytical skills and being a team player are desired in this field

Contracting Engineering

What is Contracting Engineering?

Generally, contracting engineering involves turning the plans of a building into a reality through the physical building of the project. The engineer oversees all aspects of the project from start to finish. Working with the design team to implement any changes is also a part of this role.

Essential Contracting Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Typical skills required for a role in this sector are being able to work tightly with the team as well as the architects to implement any changes to the building, as well as being able to oversee projects and a team of people.

Defence Engineering

What is Defence Engineering?

Defence engineering is the development and production of technology that focuses on national security and stability of governments throughout the world. The engineers in this sector are responsible for the design and production of military equipment, vehicles and systems. Engineers in this sector have strong science, IT and mathematics skills.

Essential Defence Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Normally a three-year BEng or a four year MEng degree is needed for a job in defence engineering
  • Maths, IT and science skills as well as solid decision-making skills

Design Engineering

What is Design Engineering?

Design engineering is the research and development of ideas which lead to new products. It requires a creative and innovative mind along with strong technical knowledge in order to implement CAD tools into high quality details technical designs.

Essential Design Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree in mechanical, civil, computer or electrical related subjects
  • A strong knowledge of CAD and CAE
  • Strong skills in maths, science and IT

Electrical Engineering

What is Electrical Engineering?

Focusing on the design and manufacturing of electrical systems for buildings, transport and construction, electrical engineers are involved with the design right through to the implementation of electrical systems. This could include the wiring or the lighting of buildings.

Essential Electrical Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree or a master’s in electronic engineering
  • Strong technical knowledge, project management skills

Electronics Engineering

What is Electronics Engineering?

A smaller, yet imperative sector, electronics engineering deals with the circuitry and tiny intricacies of electronics. The engineers in this field generally test and design the circuitries which are found in consumer electronics, digital electronics or analogue electronics.

Essential Electronics Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree in electronics engineering
  • The ability to plan projects, write specifications and technical reports

Environmental Engineering

What is Environmental Engineering?

This is the branch of engineering concerned with the protection of people from the adverse effects the environment can cause, such as pollution or global warming. The engineers in this sector generally work to improve the environmental conditions and public health.

Essential Environmental Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in environmental engineering
  • Writing specifications, planning budgets and projects

Estimator Engineering

What is Estimator Engineering?

Estimator engineering is where the estimators make estimated costs of delivering services or product to a client. The engineer will do this through an estimation of the project cost and adjust the budget accordingly. The engineers in this sector must work closely with the construction managers and buyers.

Essential Estimator Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in construction management, engineering or equivalent
  • Working closely with a team, exceptional maths and interpersonal skills

Facilities Management Engineering

What is Facilities Management Engineering?

Facilities management engineers maintain buildings to ensure the equipment within operate an optimum efficiency and their operations continue running smoothly. The purpose of this is to prevent risks occurring in the environment as well as making sure resources are not overused.

Essential Facilities Management Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in engineering or HND/Foundation degree or apprenticeship experience
  • Interpersonal, time management, ability to research and extrapolate information from a number of sources

Geotechnical Engineering

What is Geotechnical Engineering?

Geotechnical engineering involves construction soil or rock. These engineers evaluate the quality of the soil and other elements to determine whether the particular project is suitable for the chosen site or not. Some projects may need building on hills or swamp areas which can prove difficult, but a geotechnical engineer can overcome these obstacles.

Essential Geotechnical Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Geotechnical engineering degree or ideally an accredited degree
  • Ability to work in a team, confident manner, presentation skills and willingness to accept responsibility

Health & Safety Engineering

What is Health & Safety Engineering?

Health and safety engineering involves the health and safety of others in the workplace. The responsibilities for this role can include producing safety programmes to prevent hazardous working conditions and ways to avoid them in the future.

Essential Health & Safety Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree in engineering, mechanical, chemical or industrial
  • Exceptional communication skills, ability to prioritise, problem-solving skills

Hydrology Engineering

What is Hydrology Engineering?

Hydrology engineering is the focus of quantity and quality of water on the land surface. The general responsibility of a hydrology engineer is to test the quality of water or checking the development of flood risk maps. The skills of this engineer are particularly useful when working in developing countries when testing the level of quality in drinking water.

Essential Hydrology Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in biochemistry, geology, geophysics, mechanical engineering
  • Strong knowledge in engineering, ability to solve problems, commercial awareness and excellent time management skills

Infrastructure Engineering

What is Infrastructure Engineering?

The role of an infrastructure engineer is to maintain the IT system within an organisation. These engineers are imperative for the smooth running of the operation. There are two types infrastructure engineers; network and hardware. The network engineer generally focuses on the set up of the internet and communication, whereas the latter focuses on the development and testing of the hardware.

Essential Infrastructure Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in IT, computer science or engineering
  • Strong problem solving skills, able to think logically and on the spot, excellent communication skills

Instrumentation & Control Systems Engineering

What is Instrumentation & Control Systems Engineering?

An engineer in this sector generally deals with project budgets, researching relevant topics, creating test procedures and interpreting data. Working under pressure and to tight deadlines is a plus, as well as the ability to work well in a team. A control and instrument engineer will also be expected to be fluent in fluid dynamic, material selection, control and system engineering.

Essential Instrumentation & Control Systems Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in applied physics, computer, chemical or mechanical engineering
  • Strong communication and problem solving skills as well as an excellent attention to detail

Manufacturing Engineering

What is Manufacturing Engineering?

Engineers with a high level of technical expertise as well as analytical thinking are strong attributes to have in this role. This sector is spread across a number of industries, such as food and drink, pharmaceuticals as well as oil.

Essential Manufacturing Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree in engineering, or a mathematic or mechanical based degree
  • Strong communication, creative thinking as well as interpersonal skills

Marine Engineering

What is Marine Engineering?

Marine engineering is the engineering of ships, boats, oilrigs and other vessels which reside in the sea. Engineers in this sector generally design, build, test and repair these nautical vessels and are usually involved with the same work with drilling equipment and offshore platforms such as oilrigs.

Essential Marine Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Educated to a degree level in science, engineering and technology. Degree in marine engineering is a plus
  • Technical knowledge, communication and negotiating skills as well as people management skills

Materials Engineering

What is Materials Engineering?

Materials engineering involves the research, specification development and design of materials which allow various technologies to progress. The engineers in this field generally have a strong understanding of the properties of many raw materials and substances.

Essential Materials Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree in materials science or materials engineering
  • Problem solving skills, interpersonal skills as well as ability to work in a team

Mechanical Engineering

What is Mechanical Engineering?

Mechanical engineering is a broad discipline and is usually associated with manufacturing, construction, transport, or anything which can be thought of as a machine. An understanding of mechanics, thermodynamics and materials science are amongst the few skills required for mechanical engineering.

Essential Mechanical Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in mechanical engineering
  • Ability to lead a team, problem solving, data analysis and ability to accurately quality control

Petroleum, Oil & Gas Engineering

What is Petroleum, Oil & Gas Engineering?

Involved with the production of hydrocarbons such as natural gas or crude oil, petroleum, oil and gas engineers are responsible for the economical and environmentally safe handling of the activities related with this. There are a number of engineers in this sector, such as subsurface engineers, reservoir engineers or drilling engineers. Knowledge of geophysics, drilling and economics are a requirement for this role.

Essential Petroleum, Oil & Gas Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in aeronautical, mechanical, civil or petroleum engineering
  • Strong analytical, team working and team leading skills

Planning Engineering

What is Planning Engineering?

A planning engineer is the individual responsible for the overseeing and planning of activities which are required to complete a project. Larger projects are generally carried out on behalf of governments or construction companies.

Essential Planning Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in engineering
  • Leadership skills, good attention to detail, creative thinker, strong maths and literacy skills

Plant Engineering

What is Plant Engineering

This sector employs the engineers who are responsible for the safety and efficiency of power plants. They are also responsible for the maintenance and repair of machinery and other equipment. Plant engineers are usually employed a few at a time by larger companies to ensure absolute cover onsite throughout the day and night.

Essential Plant Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in civil, electrical, chemical or nuclear engineering
  • Strong problem solving skills, ability to manage, strong communication skills

Power Engineering

What is Power Engineering?

Power engineering is one of the most important forms of engineering. An engineer in this sector is responsible for the generating of electricity and ensuring the power is distributed across millions of homes and businesses. A power engineer usually designs and constructs the motors and generators responsible for the distribution of electricity.

Essential Power Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in electrical engineering
  • Strong communication skills, problem solving as well as strong team working skills

Process Engineering

What is Process Engineering?

A process engineer develops the industrial processes which lead to the manufacturing of products such as food, drink, fuel, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and clean water to name a few. This form of engineering is heavily involved with chemical and biochemical processes leading to the change of raw materials. Some of the duties involved are designing equipment and installing control systems.

Essential Process Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in chemical, industrial or manufacturing engineering
  • Skilled in technical processes, knowledgeable in sales, marketing. Strong maths and IT skills.

Production Engineering

What is Production Engineering?

Production engineers are responsible for the strategies which go into devising how a particular product will be made, which machines will be used during the manufacturing of the product and how it can be done using the most efficient and safest ways possible.

Essential Production Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A BSc in industrial, production or mechanical engineering
  • Team leadership, time management, excellent maths and technical skills

Project Management Engineering

What is Project Management Engineering?

Project management engineering involves the planning and management of projects, ensuring everything is completed within an allotted timescale as well as within the given budget. Writing plans which involve the clients’ timescales, budget and resources are involved in this role.

Essential Project Management Qualifications/Skills

  • Qualification in PRINCE2 (projects in controlled environments), degree in project management
  • Time management skills, logical thinking, ability to problem solve as well as excellent organisational skills

Quality Engineering

What is Quality Engineering?

A quality engineer assesses products to ensure they achieve the standard set by the clients’ specifications. These engineers also focus on the improvement of current processes through the collection of information from operations.

Essential Quality Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree in project management, engineering
  • Excellent written and oral skills, project management skills as well as being able to meet deadlines and have an analytical mind

Rail Engineering

What is Rail Engineering?

This sector is responsible for the maintenance and improvement of railway systems around the country while working to design further improvements to eventually change the older systems and adapting to today’s newer technology. An engineer in this sector will build and service the systems on the train engines as well as the mechanical and electrical systems.

Essential Rail Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in civil or transport engineering
  • Time management skills, ability to prioritise as well as excellent analytical skills

Research & Development Engineering

What is Research & Development Engineering?

Research and development engineers are responsible for the research of new materials and current manufacturing processes. Finding solutions to existing problems and ways to improve them are important parts of this role.

Essential Research & Development Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in aerospace, civil, chemical, mechanical, electronics, depending on the field
  • Problem solving, leadership, analytical and communication skills

Site Engineering

What is Site Engineering?

Site engineers are responsible for the application and design of plans to mark the site. These engineers can be involved in a wide range of industries, whether it is road, civil or rail. It is a broad role and can vary depending on the project and its needs.

Essential Site Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in civil, construction, electronics engineering. Depending on the discipline
  • Skills include strong team player, solid maths and analytical skills as well as good technical abilities

Software Engineering

What is Software Engineering?

Responsible for the development and implementation of software in a number of environments, a software engineer is a popular role in the IT sector. A broad technical knowledge as well as fault finding, writing programs as well as analysing user requirements are strong skills to have for this role.

Essential Software Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in computer science or other IT related equivalent qualification
  • Strong technical and IT skills, as well as able to think logically and promptly, as well as being able to work well in large teams

Surveying Engineering

What is Surveying Engineering?

Surveying engineers are involved with the testing and trials of new equipment. Specific roles within this field can include the repair and maintenance of electronics, fault finding, calibration of measuring devices and the installation of equipment on remotely operated vehicles or on board ships.

Essential Surveying Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in civil engineering
  • Must be self-motivated, resourceful, work well as part of a team and possess strong communication skills

Systems Engineering

What is Systems Engineering?

Systems engineering is the sector involved with the co-ordination of the teams and control of machinery. It is the field of engineering which focuses on the complexities of how projects should be managed and designed over its lifecycle.

Essential Systems Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in systems engineering
  • Able to stick to strict deadlines, tight budgets and being able to work well as part of a team

Telecoms, Digital Comms & Networks Engineering

What is Telecoms, Digital Comms & Networks Engineering?

This field of engineering focuses on the design and development of communication networks for voice, data and multimedia applications. These engineers are responsible for the rapid progression of the internet, mobile phones and wireless communications.

Essential Qualifications/Skills

  • Degree in telecommunications, electronic or computer engineering
  • Skills include solid managerial skills as well as being able to manage time efficiently and appropriately

Test Engineering

What is Test Engineering?

Test engineers are responsible for the creation of processes to test particular products in manufacturing or quality assurance. These engineers are essential to the IT industry, as they ensure particular systems are working to specification and that particular products meet the objectives of the design brief.

Essential Test Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree in the appropriate field of engineering
  • Being able to communicate effectively, possess solid maths and literacy skills as well as strong technical knowledge

Transportation Engineering

What is Transportation Engineering?

Transportation engineering is the sector responsible for the construction of the UK’s roads and public transport. These engineers are required for accurate road development for the UK as well as the planning, design and management of the facilities for transportation.

Essential Transportation Engineering Qualifications/Skills

  • A degree in civil, transportation or rail engineering
  • Skills include excellent time management skills as well as being able to lead a team effectively and efficiently


There are a large number of disciplines in the engineering world, with each of these having a unique attribute separating them from each other. Engineering is a broad industry, offering a variety of jobs which require a varying spectrum of qualifications.


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