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Engineer the right career

Engineer the right career

Solving problems is what engineering is all about. While you may think roles just include the typical areas like civil engineering, mechanical engineering and electronic engineering, you’d be surprised at some of the other specialisms that you could go into and some of the areas of crossover. Anita Peach discovers that if you want a career in engineering, your first problem to solve is what to do with your engineering degree.

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

You only need to tap the words ‘Engineering’ and ‘Career’ into Google to realise the size and strength of the engineering industry. Checking out the most popular links will lead to a host of engineering job websites, recruitment agencies, companies offering engineering roles, careers information and engineering institutions.

However, making sense of it all can be quite a challenge, so making the most of opportunities to talk to people is always advisable. The engineering industry is awash with institutions that can give information and advice.  

But, 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 than a one-line answer as the benefits are multifaceted.

Role of an institution

To begin with, membership of an engineering institution licensed by the Engineering Council UK (ECUK) is a first step to securing your professional standing in a variety of ways. 

According to the ECUK, registering with them as a Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer or Engineering Technician brings the following benefits:

  • It identifies you as having competences that employers value
  • It indicates that your competence, and your commitment to professionalism, have been assessed by other engineering professionals
  • It demonstrates that your competence may be compared with standards applicable in other parts of the world
  • It confirms that your commitment to professionalism is underwritten by the support of a national engineering institution or society licensed by the Engineering Council UK

This in turn can help in areas like finding work, pay, promotion, gaining respect and keeping abreast of new developments in the industry.

There are 35 engineering bodies accredited by the ECUK. For more information visit

Depending on the route you take in to engineering you can achieve the status of Engineering Technician, Incorporated Engineer or Chartered Engineer. In general terms, chartered status is normally achieved through the academic route but it can also be achieved by progressing through the various states of accreditation. Institutions like the IET can offer more advice on this. 

Other valuable sources of information and advice are recruitment exhibitions. This is a great opportunity to meet potential employers face to face, learn more about the industry and specific companies, as well as getting yourself noticed. 

The National Engineering and Construction Recruitment Exhibition is the largest event of its kind in the UK, offering invaluable careers advice and vacancies for all engineering and construction professionals, from recent graduate positions to high level skilled professionals. Employers include Amey, BAE Systems, EADS Defence & Security, E.On, Jaguar, Network Rail, Selex.

The next National Engineering and Construction Recruitment Exhibition takes place on 25 & 26 November at NEC, Birmingham. For more information visit

A career in engineering will give you choice and variety. You may want to dabble in different sectors before you choose an area that suits, you may wish to move into management or even take an alternative career in IT, banking or even finance. 

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 then there is the opportunity to work in different industry sectors like construction, defence, energy, pharmaceuticals, rail, telecoms and even 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. However, more specialised degrees like robotics can be used in a variety of sectors such as the defence, electronics or marine industries.

Engineers exist in all walks of life from medicine and mechanics to transport and space exploration. And there is nothing dowdy about being an engineer.

Changing perceptions

What are your first thoughts when you think about engineers and engineering? All stuffy suits or hard hats and overalls? Cast aside those misconceptions – engineers are the ultimate trendsetters! 

Your high-street retailers and advertising agencies may have been the first to tell you about the latest ultra-small mobile phones, computer games, the latest sound systems but the chances are engineers were the driving force that brought these ideas from the drawing board to your shopping list.

Engineers are on a mission to bring you the best experience in anything you do. They question what many people just expect. Not content to sit back and go with the flow, they challenge the norm and strive to take technology to uncharted waters, ultimately leading to better lifestyle experiences for us all.

The perceptions of the industry are changing. However, 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’. It’s not about ‘dirty hands’ or ‘greasy overalls’, but more about intellectual problem solving. Slowly the industry is starting to reverse the ingrained trend, with more women studying and working as engineers. 

Educating both men and women on the opportunities available is crucial to the industry and changing those dated perceptions will help fill more of the graduate vacancies that often remain empty. 

Graduates with more rounded skill sets, such as strong communication skills and team working skills will find their employability increase. Employers want to see candidates who have more than the obvious engineering skills of an investigative mind and problem solving capabilities. They also want to see computer software and organisational skills. Those with project management skills or languages are in great demand; recent news reports show employers have spoken out about their need for candidates who show an understanding of the language of business awareness, or have foreign language skills to enable work on international projects.


  • 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.)
  • Students and professionals at the start of their engineering and technology careers are given recognition and support via awards which include undergraduate and postgraduate engineering and IT scholarships to provide financial support for students. 
  • Find out more at


This article was compiled in conjuction with the IET.

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