12 engineering degree careers (With salaries and duties)
Updated 16 August 2023
Graduating with a degree in engineering often leads directly into a clear career path, which usually begins in a technician role. Organisations in various industries benefit from the technical skills built during an engineering degree and can offer different opportunities to the standard engineering career path. Depending on your interests, you may wish to seek alternative engineering career options or opt for a more conventional role. In this article, we explore the knowledge and skills you can gain from an engineering degree and list examples of careers that are suitable for your engineering skills.
What skills do engineering degree careers require?
Here's a list of these fundamental skills that various engineering degree careers require:
Logical thinking: The logic and reason that engineering degrees teach are fundamental for following regulations and isolating the causes of problems and the impact of solutions. Engineers are experts at project design and evaluation due to the way they're taught to think and the rules of argument and analysis that they follow.
Attention to procedure: Students of this discipline learn procedures and follow strict codes of conduct and safety regulations. Engineers work comfortably with hazards and follow instructions to avoid potentially fatal mistakes.
Testing and reporting: While methods may vary between subdisciplines and institutions, engineers are usually taught how to report the results of testing comprehensively. This experience helps engineers understand important documentation and particular frameworks for investigation.
Data analysis: Engineering students develop a thorough understanding of how to analyse data and make judgments based on these results. Engineering graduates can be helpful for experimental projects, product development and briefs which require multiple rounds of prototyping.
Statistics and numeracy: Engineers learn the correct and unbiased use of statistics and advanced mathematical techniques. They can therefore handle numbers, data and the publication and distribution of these statistics during a project.
Project management: Universities usually build engineering degrees around projects which form the core tasks of the degree. Engineers often spend time on long-term projects and placements, meaning they're able to manage projects successfully over long periods of time involving lots of personnel.
Research skills: Engineers learn the theory and science behind engineering via handbooks and individual critical research. As a result, employers tend to value engineers for their ability to deploy in-depth research skills.
What do engineering graduates do after graduation?
Engineers typically enter full-time employment in their engineering field, often starting as a technician before moving to a role as an engineer or project manager. You may find that other disciplines are better suited to your interests and can make use of your transferrable skills. You may also wish to continue your studies to gain more specialised skills and knowledge. Other options that many graduates choose include taking on a management consultancy or finding jobs in relevant sectors, such as energy or manufacturing.
12 engineering degree careers
Engineering degrees can vary from bachelor's to PhD. There are also various different subdisciplines, such as chemical, electrical or civil engineering. Here are some engineering degree careers that make use of both general engineering skills and specific skills from your discipline:
National average salary: £34,617 per year
Primary duties: Mechanical engineers design, sketch, analyse and test machines such as engines for clients. They work with a team of technicians and machinists to produce them. This type of engineer frequently conducts experiments and performance tests of prototypes to establish how to improve them using a wealth of engineering, mathematics and physics knowledge. An engineering degree is usually essential for this role. Employers typically have structured internship programmes and experience opportunities for graduates.
Related: How to become a mechanical engineer
National average salary: £23,026 per year
Primary duties: Machinists maintain and operate both light and heavy machinery in industrial processes under strict safety protocols. This role is suitable for engineering graduates who want to make use of their knowledge and skills in a job that focuses more on operation than design. An engineering degree is essential and experience in a machinery or garage role can be helpful.
National average salary: £35,007 per year
Primary duties: Electrical engineers design, develop and set up electronic systems and devices like generators, for example. They may also manage the manufacturing and installation of these systems. Engineering degrees and certifications are essential and there are typically numerous entry-level jobs available with energy and telecommunications companies.
National average salary: £55,169 per year
Primary duties: Engineering consultants draw on broad engineering knowledge and skills to solve problems and create solutions to meet the needs of clients. Consultancy roles suit engineering graduates who enjoy applying a wide range of knowledge and working on projects for a variety of industries. Graduates can apply directly to consultancy firms to find work in this area. Most engineering consultants can expect clear promotion structures.
National average salary: £36,700 per year
Primary duties: Civil engineers work on major urban development projects and infrastructure for both private and public sector systems. They design, construct and maintain a variety of structures such as bridges, water supply and roadways. Civil engineering is notoriously profitable and is an essential business that constantly evolves to meet new environmental requirements and safety standards. Graduates typically enter the field directly as a technician after completing placements and internships during their time at university.
National average salary: £34,804 per year
Primary duties: Chemical engineers design and optimise the processes of turning raw chemical materials into usable products safely and efficiently. They're often involved in fields that handle chemicals such as the energy and pharmaceutical industries. Chemical engineers ensure product quality and inspect factories and warehouses for appropriate production practices and storage conditions. Employers in this field value applicants with relevant work experience, and many companies recruit directly from their student placement schemes.
National average salary: £36,867 per year
Primary duties: Technical writers write and maintain official technical documentation, handbooks and tutorials. Engineers typically have extensive specialist knowledge that's highly beneficial for writing engineering documentation and interpreting specifications. Having an excellent command of written communication is essential and graduates often apply immediately following their degree.
National average salary: £34,552 per year
Primary duties: Biomedical engineers design devices and equipment for medical use such as medical machinery and scanners, prosthetics and organ replacements. Having strong knowledge of both engineering and biology is essential to be able to produce equipment that's safe for a medical context. As with other engineering jobs, placement recruitment is common and gaining work experience is essential to securing a job after graduation.
National average salary: £32,560 per year
Primary duties: Aerospace engineers design, develop and test aircraft, weaponry and satellites both for government and industry clients. Many aerospace engineers specialise in the design and delivery of certain aircraft components or materials. A background in aerospace is usually preferred, but backgrounds in other types of engineering or computer science, physics or maths may also be acceptable. Graduates often enter the field via a placement or internship and aim for recruitment for a full-time role by the company. A degree and additional qualifications are typically necessary to proceed beyond technician level, which the company may support or subsidise.
National average salary: £55,730 per year
Primary duties: Management consultancy involves managing teams of professionals from wide backgrounds to complete projects for a variety of contracted clients. Engineers suit management consultancy due to their experience in project management and organisation of various processes to produce a deliverable product or service. Engineers can use soft skills and engineering knowledge by becoming management consultants specialising in engineering or in project management. Graduates often apply directly following their degree and those who complete internships tend to have an easier time securing a role.
National average salary: £43,963 per year
Primary duties: Software engineers design, develop and rigorously test software solutions to suit the business needs of clients. Engineers can take full of advantage of their experience in project workflow, creating frameworks to solve problems and any additional software experience. There are many coding and software development courses and certificates available online for engineers who didn't learn this skill at university. Many companies recruit software engineers with no previous experience or coding knowledge and offer subsidised coding training as part of the recruitment process.
Related: 6 essential software engineer skills
National average salary: £33,759 per year
Primary duties: Another fulfilling career path for engineers is academia, which many engineering students pursue after their degree of further study. Graduates can continue their studies to PhD level and then take positions as postdoctoral researchers or research assistants to gain experience before becoming a lecturer. The process is extremely competitive but can lead to high earning potential and the opportunity to use your specific engineering knowledge at the highest academic levels.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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