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What Can You Do With an Engineering Degree?

What Can You Do With an Engineering Degree? main image

Engineering is a broad subject which splits into many different disciplines, including chemical, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering. Engineering graduates are often logical thinkers with excellent numerical and problem-solving skills.  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 engineering 

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.

Aeronautical engineering 

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.

Explore other aeronautical engineering career options here.

Electrical engineering 

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.

Other careers for engineering graduates

IT consultant 

This career may suit graduates who have studied electrical or computer/software engineering. Your expertise in IT would be welcomed in a wide range of organizations. IT consultants work in partnership with clients, guiding them on how to use information technology in order to meet their business objectives or overcome problems. Having a good degree, prior work experience and a sincere interest in IT and consulting will increase your chances of finding work in this role.

Quality manager

As a quality manager, you’re responsible for ensuring that your company's products and services are fit for purpose and meet set standards, with quality assessment procedures in place to uphold those standards. If you understand the importance of quality to customers and businesses, have an eye for detail and are a good communicator, this could be an ideal career for you. A postgraduate degree and/or relevant experience would be useful for entry into this role.

Technical writer

Technical writers are needed in many industries to write descriptions or instructions to help people understand how to use a product or service. The strong practical knowledge that you’ve gained during your engineering degree will be very useful in this role, particularly if you have knowledge of software packages, as you could be writing manuals for high-tech products. Technical writers work for an extensive assortment of industries, from finance to nuclear energy. Again, relevant experience is useful, as are strong writing skills and the ability to convey instructions clearly in the relevant language/s.

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‘What Can You Do With an Engineering Degree?’ is part of our ‘What Can You Do With…’ series. We have also covered artbiologybusinesscommunicationscomputer scienceEnglishfashionhistorygeographylawmarketingmathematicsperforming artsphilosophypolitics, psychologysociologychemistryeconomics and physics.

This article was originally published in January 2015. It was last updated in October 2019.

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Christian O, Djabir A & 42 others saved this
Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
The former Assistant Editor of TopUniversities.com, Sabrina wrote and edited articles to guide students from around the world on a wide range of topics. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from Aberystwyth University and grew up in Staffordshire, UK. 

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4 Comments

Iam electrical engineering

Very informative blog, engineering degree provides a wide range of careers in your career. 

Good article ! After Engineering degree the students can attend GATE Exam for PG admissions to Engineering/ Technology/ Architecture and Science programmes offered across IITs, NITs and other leading institutions.

Hola! Vivo en Costa Rica y el otro año empezare a estudiar ingeniería electromecánica pero aun estoy considerando si es una buena opción, ya que, cuando finalice mis estudios quiero optar una beca en el extranjero y no se si es buena elección estudiar esa ingeniería.