The careers open to engineering graduates are wide and varied, although you may wish to choose the career most relevant to your engineering specialization and related skills. This may require extra studying and work experience; if you’d like to become a chartered engineer, for example, you will need to take a postgraduate course (MEng) and gain professional experience.
Those looking to begin careers in engineering will be pleased to discover that, not only is there a high demand for engineering graduates, but there’s also a chance that you could earn an impressive salary, with engineering graduates in the US earning an average of US$75,800 per year according to glassdoor.co.uk.
Read on to find out which careers in engineering would best suit you, and how to increase your employability in these areas.
Civil engineering careers
Degrees in civil engineering prepare you for a career in the construction industry as well as in the wider business, management and financial sectors. Civil engineering careers are both rewarding and challenging and can involve construction, design and management, depending on your interests and specialist knowledge.
This career option often involves many aspects of design and architecture, allowing you to express your creative side and explore innovative new ideas, whilst also analyzing data and technology. Civil engineers need a good knowledge of design and construction methods as well as health and safety matters.
Civil engineering careers generally split into the roles of a consulting civil engineer and a contracting civil engineer. Civil engineering careers in consultancy are likely to be involved in the design stage of a project, collaborating with architects and other professionals. Alternatively, contracting civil engineers turn the plans of consulting civil engineers into reality, dealing with practical issues such as obtaining materials and meeting deadlines, and helping to resolve any problems that arise. There are also roles which combine both the consulting and contracting stages.
The role of a building control surveyor is generally suited to civil engineering students but is open to engineering students of all disciplines. Building control surveyors consider areas of health and safety to ensure building regulations and other regulations are monitored when buildings are designed and constructed. They also offer advice when buildings do not meet these regulations and will make visits to the construction site at different stages to make sure that the work is being correctly carried out.
Chemical engineering careers
If you’re a chemical engineering graduate, there are a wide range of engineering careers available to you. The technical and transferable skills developed in your degree can also lead to professions in business, finance and law.
Chemical or process engineers examine and design the machinery and processes used to turn raw materials into everyday products such as fuel, plastics and food, whilst sticking to health and safety guidelines. Modern chemical engineering is also concerned with trailblazing useful new resources and techniques, such as nanotechnology. This career would suit graduates with a strong interest in chemistry and a knack for problem-solving.
You’ll be using your knowledge of mathematics and science to help you analyze problems and come up with solutions. Good management skills are required to help effectively manage projects, budgets and people. Click here to read in more detail about how careers as a chemical engineer vary between sectors such as food processing and wastewater management.
Another career which you might wish to consider as a chemical engineering graduate is a product/process development scientist. Your knowledge of processing gained in your degree will be very useful for this career, as product or process development scientists are responsible for exploring and developing new production processes and adjusting current manufacturing systems to increase their efficiency and profitability.
Mechanical engineers develop solutions to help improve mechanical processes and products, and can work in a variety of sectors, including manufacturing and power. They are involved in the management of people and resources, as well as the development and use of new materials and technologies. This career path will suit you if you’re technically minded, skilled at science and mathematics, and good at problem-solving. Mechanical engineers in the US can earn an average of US$62,680 per year according to glassdoor.co.uk
The obvious route for careers in aeronautical engineering is to study a specialized degree in this field, but it is also an option for graduates of mechanical engineering, as well as graduates of computer science engineering, electrical engineering and manufacturing engineering.
As an aeronautical engineer you’ll apply scientific, technological and mathematical principles to research, design, develop, maintain and test the performance of civil and military aircraft, including weapons, satellites and even space vehicles. You’ll need to be able to resolve any issues that arise during the design, development and testing process, including investigating any aircraft accidents and project management.
Electrical engineering often overlaps with other areas of engineering, as the sectors you could work in span from construction to communications and media, to healthcare and more. This is another area which isn’t necessarily restricted to graduates of this subject, as entry may be possible with a different type of engineering degree, particularly mechanical engineering.
Electrical engineers design, develop and maintain electrical control systems and/or components through a mixture of technical knowledge and commercial awareness, and in the US can expect to earn $76,460 on average, according to glassdoor.co.uk. As well as having technical knowledge, electrical engineers need to have commercial awareness and be able to project manage and multitask.
Engineering careers in management and consultancy
Engineering graduates are well suited to roles in management, as they often have strong problem-solving skills and the ability to ‘think outside the box’. Some graduates of engineering might decide to study a postgraduate degree specializing in engineering management in order to boost their career prospects, while many graduates will be able to gradually progress into a more senior position which involves having responsibility for other staff or larger projects and budgets.
Experienced engineers may choose to pursue a career in engineering management consultancy, working either as part of a consultancy or as an independent contractor. This means the opportunity to work on a variety of different projects at different types of organization, providing expert advice, and perhaps also taking on project management duties.
Similarly, engineering managers conduct a variety of tasks to apply engineering principles to business practice, for example by overseeing projects and operations, managing personnel and handling budgets. Engineering management combines the technological problem-solving know-how of engineering and the logistic, administrative and formation skills of management in order to supervise complex initiatives from conception to completion. As this is a senior role, you will usually need a qualification as a chartered engineer, as well as significant experience.