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What can I do as an Engineer?

This will depend on the sector and discipline you decide to be part of. Broadly speaking, though, engineers design, manufacture and maintain products and systems.

This could include ensuring trains run efficiently and on time; designing and evaluating manufacturing processes so they run smoothly; designing prosthetic limbs or researching new drug therapies; designing and constructing elements of a building; designing new fuel systems for race cars; or putting commercial flights into space.

This is in addition to software or computer engineering. More information about this profession is in our IT section.

Having studied engineering also provides a clear route to a career as a patent attorney. For this job you need to be able to understand and explain technical products in order to gain rights over an innovation. Many who are interested in science or engineering but don’t wish to use it in a lab or in industry enjoy the intellectual challenge this profession can bring.

Find out more by reading about the specific sectors.

What skills do I need to become an Engineer?

In addition to the technical know-how gained during your degree, there are a number of other attributes you should be able to demonstrate. These include:

  • Communication skills
  • Team work
  • Creativity/initiative
  • Problem solving
  • Time/project management.

What qualifications do I need to become an Engineer?

Beyond A levels (for which you should have Maths or a Science subject), you will need to have an engineering subject related to what you would like to go into. Many companies will have a preference towards having a Masters too.

If you are serious about a career in engineering you should aspire to become professionally qualified as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng).

Obtaining your degree will get you part of the way towards becoming professionally qualified. You will also need to undertake a period of initial professional development, during which you will apply your knowledge and understanding of engineering to solving real problems in a working environment and develop the competence and commitment you need to perform the duties of a professional engineer.

You can then apply to a professional engineering institution for a review, where you can demonstrate the necessary competence and commitment. If you succeed, you’ll then be able to call yourself an Incorporated or Chartered Engineer.

More information about these requirements can be found at the Engineering Council website, where there is a list of professional engineering institutions.

What are my engineering career salary prospects?

This varies considerably depending on the sector. Sectors which are traditionally seen to have higher profits such as finance or oil continue to pay their employees higher than average salaries. However, engineers in all sectors can earn a decent salary, starting in the region of £24,000. Once professionally qualified, your salary is likely to increase.

Are there any opportunities to travel in an engineering career?

Due to the nature of some engineering projects you may be asked to travel to meet clients or oversee projects abroad. Many roles are based within the office or lab with 9-5 (ish) working hours.

Should I do an engineering work experience placement?

Some engineering university courses will have a year in industry built in; for those that don’t, taking a year out to do one may be possible. In these slightly uncertain times, doing an internship or some other work experience during the long holidays would also be a wise investment.

How large is the engineering sector?

This sector is very large. From March 09-10, it had a turnover of £1.15 trillion, 24.9% of which was based in the UK.

It also employs 5.6 million people across 551,520 businesses. This is set to increase with an estimated 7.2 million people working in the industry in the next 5-10 year (Engineering UK 2012 Report).

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