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A guide to Engineering jobs in the UK

Published: Thursday 14th January 2016

Engineering jobs happen whenever engines, machines or structures are designed, built or used. It is a significant industry in the UK with 5.5 million people currently employed in the sector which is responsible for nearly a quarter of total UK turnover at £455.6 billion. The market is currently falling short of the demand, meaning not enough people are pursuing engineering as a career each year. There is currently an annual shortfall of 55,000 skilled engineers. The trend is predicted to continue as the profession will require 182,000 people each year in the decade to 2022 as demand continues to increase.

Looking forward beyond 2022, employers in engineering have the potential to produce an additional £27 billion per year or the equivalent cost of building 110 new hospitals, or 1,800 secondary schools. Because of this high demand and low supply, the financial rewards and the likelihood of getting a job are very enticing for people entering the engineering sector.

Types of Engineering jobs

Within engineering, there are a range of roles from designing, building through to managerial positions: Civil Engineers are the second oldest type, as the term was given to distinguish them from military engineers. It covers a wide range but is concerned largely with the physical environment like roads, bridges, canals, dams and buildings. Aerospace Engineers have an important role in improving flight safety, fuel efficiency, reducing system costs and utilising new technologies to meet customer needs. They research, design, develop and maintain aircraft, missiles, weapon systems, satellites and space vehicles.

Design Engineers work across the broad disciplines of engineering, within the design stage. Sometimes the design engineer may do ‘cradle to grave’ engineering, following the product and any changes and corrections, through its lifespan. Structural Engineers are actually a type of civil engineer. They focus on the structures of towers, buildings, bridges and stadia.

Industrial Designer Has Conversation with Senior Engineer While Working in CAD Program, Designing New Component. He Works on Personal Computer with Two Monitors.

Manufacturing Engineers work in the manufacturing industry, predominantly concentrating on product quality and cost reduction. They may deal with chemical manufacturing, circuit board production and the fabrication processes for nano-technology devices, for example. Mechanical Engineers have a wide remit across the different types, industry and scale of engineering projects. Tasks may vary from R&D of medical products and design of services within buildings, up to improving production in large oil refineries. Furthermore, project engineers are a link between the project manager or principal engineer and the technical disciplines within the project. They essentially bring the engineering and project management together. Principal Engineers oversee the process and manage the project.

Gender differences

In 2014, the GCSE enrollment of engineering entrants was just 7% female, rising slightly to 7.4% in 2015. However, it should be noted that this under representation of females is through choice, rather than any lack of ability. In 2014, 61,641 girls obtained a physics GSCE of grade A*-C, though less than 10% went on to get a physics A-Level. They did qualify, but chose to pursue another subject instead.


Before considering the higher qualifications an engineer must have, it is interesting to note the industry perceptions of 11-14 year-olds. 40% show a considerable interest in the subject seeing a career in engineering as desirable. However, only 25% actually knew what engineers did. Parents’ knowledge of what is involved in engineering wasn’t much better, with only 30% aware of what people in engineering did. It appears there is a strong interest but unfortunately little knowledge about engineering as a career choice. 20% of pupils will achieve a GCSE grade of A*-C in physics. However, just 25% of these, or 5% of the total, will obtain a physics A-Level grade of A*-C. Furthermore, 1 in 50 students will go on to complete an engineering degree.

Education Smart Industry Skills Qualification and engineering jobs concept.

Pathways into Engineering


If you have an A-Level in physics, you can go through a higher apprenticeship to a Higher National Diploma (HND) or Foundation Degree. This can then progress into a role as an incorporated engineer.


A degree is not necessarily a pre-requisite for a career in engineering; however the minimum standard is 5 GCSEs. It is possible to pursue an engineering career as an apprentice working as operator. However, study is a prerequisite for an engineering diploma, a vital component of the apprenticeship.


An engineering graduate can fall under one of these three categories of employment, each with their own qualifications:

Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)

Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)

Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE)

Certificate of graduation cap and helmet for engineers working on the road with green trees in the background

Engineering Council Recognition

There are three categories of employment:

Chartered Engineer (CEng) o Required: Four-year Master’s degree in Engineering (MEng)

Incorporated Engineers (IEng) o Required: Engineering degree, Foundation degree or HND

Engineering Technicians (EngTech) o Required: Higher National Certificate or Diploma and initial professional development (in an Advanced Apprenticeship)


As a sector requiring a relatively high level of education and qualifications, engineering offers high earnings. Generally, you can expect to earn around £25K – £30K annually from your first year, and an average of approximately £30K+ throughout your career, in most disciplines. Search for engineering jobs on Zoek today!

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