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Job Photographs

  • A man is soldering a circuit board.

    Engineers need to understand how things work and have a logical approach to solving problems. Here, an engineer is soldering a new component onto a circuit board.

  • A man is standing in a workshop.  He is operating a large robot arm.

    A practical, but creative approach to problem-solving and a knowledge of maths and physics are important for engineers.

  • Three people, wearing high visibility jackets and hard hats, are standing in a muddy field.  They are looking at a map.

    Sometimes engineering involves working outdoors, for example, inspecting work on a construction site.

  • A man, wearing a green boiler suit, is standing by a worktop.  He is soldering a circuit board.

    Some engineers begin their careers by taking an apprenticeship - this helps them to learn while they earn.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Engineers use computer-aided design (CAD) in their work.

  • Two men are carrying out an experiment inside a wind tunnel.  They are watching from a small window.

    There are many different kinds of engineering, but they can be broadly put into three groups - civil, electrical/electronic, and mechanical.

  • Engineer

Engineer

Introduction

As an Engineer, you will research, design and develop a huge range of things, from sports shoes to roads, tunnels and bridges, and from light bulbs to satellites. You'll work on structures, products, systems or processes in a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, energy, communications, construction, computing, transport, chemicals and water.

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Video: - Kate: Chemical Engineer

Work Activities

As an Engineer, you will use scientific principles to find creative solutions to practical problems. Your work will be incredibly varied and impacts upon everyone's lives, through areas such as construction, manufacturing, processing, communications, transport, fuel and medical technology.

Engineers have shaped much of the modern world. They have given us roads, bridges, dams, televisions, personal computers, the mobile phone, nuclear power stations, reservoirs, pipelines and microchips - the list could go on and on.

The work carried out by Engineers is wide ranging. At any stage of a project, you might be involved in:

  • planning the project
  • carrying out feasibility studies
  • building and testing prototypes
  • research and design
  • diagnostic studies to find causes of problems
  • meetings with colleagues and clients
  • site visits and report writing

The need to protect the environment, recycle, and reduce waste and carbon emissions has become a vital part of the modern Engineer's role.

There are many different areas of engineering. The main ones are:

  • mechanical engineering - The design, manufacture and maintenance of all moving parts of machinery. This is a very diverse area, including everything from the design of Formula 1 cars, installing gas turbines in industry, or helping with a charity project.
  • chemical engineering - This covers changing raw materials into a wide range of useful products, such as plastics, dyes, drugs/medicines, paints and cleaning products.
  • electrical engineering - Generating and supplying power to homes and businesses
  • electronics engineering - Developing products that use electricity, such as computers, satellites and digital televisions
  • civil engineering - Designing and building structures such as roads, bridges, airports and tunnels

There are also many types of engineering that are specific to particular industries. These include aeronautical, automotive, biomedical and telecommunications engineering, for example.

As an Engineer, you might specialise in one particular area. Or you could become a General Engineer, and develop a broad understanding of many different types of engineering.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become an Engineer, you need:

  • to have technical ability
  • an interest in mathematics, science and technology
  • the ability to combine an analytical, logical approach with creativity and imagination to solve problems
  • to work well as part of a team
  • the ability to encourage other people's ideas
  • to be flexible and able to compromise
  • strong communication skills to write reports and to explain complex information to people from non-technical backgrounds
  • organisational skills to plan your own time and to co-ordinate resources
  • a willingness to take on responsibility and to lead and motivate others
  • good IT skills - a lot of engineering work involves using computers
  • to be willing to keep up to date with advances in engineering

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £30,000 - £34,000
  • With experience: £37,000 - £45,500
  • Senior Engineers earn £49,500 - £54,000

Hours of work

Most Engineers work around 35-40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. However, you may need to start early, finish late or do some weekend work, especially as deadlines approach.

Where could I work?

Employers are firms in:

  • manufacturing
  • energy
  • communications
  • construction
  • computing
  • transportation
  • chemical
  • water
  • robotics
  • marine and offshore industries
  • government departments
  • the armed forces

Opportunities for Engineers occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Opportunities occur for Engineers to work in other countries, in Europe and in the rest of the world.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for Engineers to work as self-employed, independent consultants or in partnership with other specialists in professional practice.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).

GreenJobs is a job board aimed at people interested in green careers:

www.greenjobs.co.uk/browse-jobs/engineering/

Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.

Take a look at our General Information Article 'Finding Work Online'.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

The usual route to become an Engineer is to take a relevant engineering degree, foundation degree or HND.

However, an Advanced, Higher Level or Degree Apprenticeships are also a great place to start.

As well as general engineering courses, there are many specialist courses reflecting the different areas of engineering, for example, mechanical, electrical/electronic, aeronautical, chemical, automotive, civil, structural, systems, control and design.

It's essential to check college/university websites carefully to make sure the course you choose is appropriate to the branch of engineering you want to follow.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Training

Some graduates join graduate training schemes, which offer structured training and experience.

Depending on their level of entry, Engineers can gain Chartered Engineer (CEng) or Incorporated Engineer (IEng) professional status. Both are highly regarded by employers throughout industry.

To register as a CEng or an IEng, you must join a relevant, professional engineering institution licensed by the Engineering Council.

To become a CEng or an IEng, you need to demonstrate the appropriate competence and commitment. The standards for this are set out in the Engineering Council's UK-SPEC document, which can be downloaded from their website.

UK-SPEC and the engineering institution you've joined can tell you which qualifications are accredited or approved towards CEng or IEng status. Your engineering institution will also advise you on, and process, your application.

Routes to CEng status include completing:

  • an accredited honours degree in engineering or technology, plus either an appropriate Masters degree or Engineering Doctorate (EngD) accredited by a professional engineering institution, or appropriate further learning to Masters level
  • or, an accredited integrated MEng degree

Routes to IEng status include completing:

  • an accredited Bachelors or honours degree in engineering or technology
  • or, an HNC, HND or foundation degree in engineering or technology, plus appropriate further learning to degree level
  • or, an NVQ level 4, which has been approved by a licensed engineering institution

However, you can still become a CEng or an IEng if you don't have these academic qualifications. Further information about the assessment process can be found in UK-SPEC.

Work Experience

Previous experience working in an engineering environment would be useful for this career.

Progression

Depending on their qualification, Engineers can progress by taking on more responsibility for the management of engineering projects and teams of Engineers.

Some Engineers choose to become self-employed or take contract work on a freelance basis.

Qualifications

To enter a degree course in engineering, the usual requirement is:

  • 2/3 A levels
  • GCSEs in your A level subjects at grade C/4 or above
  • a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above
  • maths and a science or technology subject are often required at A level
  • English, maths and a science subject are usually required at GCSE at grade C/4 or above

To get onto a Degree Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least 2 A levels.

To get onto an Advanced or Higher Level Apprenticeship, you will usually need at least five GCSEs at A*-C or 9-4, including English and maths, and possibly two A Levels.

Other qualifications, such as a BTEC level 3 qualification in engineering, or the International Baccalaureate Diploma are often accepted. Check college/university websites very carefully.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Engineering) could be the way in.

These courses are designed for people who have not followed the usual routes into higher education. No formal qualifications are usually needed, but you should check this with individual colleges.

Distance learning

Distance learning is available from the Open University, with an MEng degree in Engineering.

Numerous other institutions offer undergraduate and postgraduate engineering qualifications via distance learning.

Training

Information on pathways to registration as a Chartered (CEng) or Incorporated (IEng) Engineer can be found on the Engineering Council's website.

Sponsorship

Sponsorship for higher education study is available (in several branches of engineering) from the larger engineering and manufacturing companies.

Funding

Funding for postgraduate study is available through universities from some research councils, especially the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Further Information

Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.

Semta

Skills for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies

Address: 14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT

Tel: 0845 6439001

Email: customerservices@semta.org.uk

Website: www.semta.org.uk

The Engineer

Engineering technology news

Email: customerservices@theengineer.co.uk

Website: www.theengineer.co.uk

Tomorrow's Engineers

Publisher: EngineeringUK and Royal Academy of Engineering

Email: contactus@tomorrowsengineers.org.uk

Website: www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk

Inside Careers

Specialists in graduate careers

Address: Unit 6, The Quad, 49 Atalanta Street, Fulham, London SW6 6TU

Tel: 020 7565 7900

Website: www.insidecareers.co.uk

Engineer Jobs

Publisher: Venture Marketing Group

Email: ner@vmgl.com

Website: www.engineerjobs.co.uk

Getting into Engineering Courses

Author: James Burnett Publisher: Trotman

Website: www.mpw.ac.uk/university-guides/getting-into/engineering-courses/

Scottish Engineering

Scottish enquiries

Address: 105 West George Street, Glasgow G2 1QL

Tel: 0141 2213181

Email: consult@scottishengineering.org.uk

Website: www.scottishengineering.org.uk

Engineering Council

Address: 246 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EX

Tel: 020 3206 0500

Website: www.engc.org.uk

Engineering Training Council Northern Ireland (ETC NI)

Northern Ireland Enquiries

Address: Sketrick House, Ards Business Park, Jubilee Road, Newtownards BT23 4YH

Tel: 028 9182 2377

Email: info@etcni.org.uk

Website: www.etcni.org.uk

Women's Engineering Society (WES)

Address: Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2AY

Tel: 01438 765506

Email: info@wes.org.uk

Website: www.wes.org.uk

WISE

Women in science, engineering and technology

Address: Quest House, 38 Vicar Lane, Bradford BD1 5LD

Tel: 01274 724009

Email: info@wisecampaign.org.uk

Website: www.wisecampaign.org.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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