• Background South West

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    Sector Overview


    • Graduate jobs in engineering tend to be some of the higher paying roles, sometimes with over a £25,000 starting salary!

    • The Times ranks Cambridge as the best UK engineering university, but MIT is the best in the world

    • A great sector for travel, skilled engineers are in high demand around the world

    • Most engineering roles tend to be 9-5 but can vary dramatically depending on your field

    • One of the best areas to find a job as a graduate

    • Expect to work in a variety of different environments. You could be in an office one day and on an oil rig the next!

    If you think that engineers are limited to just working on big industrial machines, then you’re wrong! Engineers design, test and develop almost every product you can think of. The range of sectors and industries that require engineers is immense, including transport, construction, food, fashion, ICT, medicine and hair & beauty.

    Because of the range of careers available, you will have to think about what sector you want to be part of and how you want to progress. A chemical engineer would be much more focused on lab-work than an industrial engineer. Most roles require you to maintain and develop the equipment and machinery that keeps companies running!



    Chemical Engineering

    This sounds pretty complicated and it kind of is, as it deals with combining complex chemicals to produce products. However, it’s behind the advancement of some of our best medical cures and vaccinations, as well as creating new materials that are used in other areas of Engineering.

    Metals Engineering

    Everything you see that’s made from a metal was engineered by this industry. Metal production is vitally important and it contributes £15 billion a year to our economy. Plus with recycling on the increase, the industry will continue to grow and grow.

    Electrical Engineering

    Electrical Engineering covers everything from the smallest microchips to ensuring the national grid (responsible for the power flowing into our homes) is running smoothly. It covers maintenance and creation, as well as evaluating systems for improvement.

    Aerospace Engineering

    Did you know that the UK is the second largest manufacturer of space vehicles in the world? Aerospace covers satellites, commercial and military aircraft, space shuttles and all the bits that make them up.

    Marine Engineering

    Marine Engineering covers all things oceanic. You could be designing cruise liners, fishing boats and other aquatic vehicles. It also covers offshore oilrigs and wind farms. As the UK is an island, there’s plenty of business to be had in this sector!

    Defence Engineering

    Although most engineers that work in defence would probably fall into one of the above categories, there are projects (such as missiles, aircraft, satellites, advanced technology) that fall into a separate category. Some projects are kept top secret and require specialists to work on, so if you choose to follow this path, keep it on the low down…

    What kind of salary can I expect to earn?

    This is a very big sector, so you can expect a very big salary as you become more qualified. Starting salaries are around £17,000 and the average, fully qualified engineer can expect to earn £43,000 a year. Of course, the more specialised you become, the more you will earn!




    As you can see, there are a lot of choices to make regarding this sector. It’s one of those careers where you specialise and stay on a particular path, so make sure you choose the right job for you. Here are the frameworks you can expect to see in this industry and all Apprenticeships result in a Level 2 BTEC, Diploma or NVQ.
    Engineering • Engineering Construction • Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration • Industrial Applications • Marine Industry

    Advanced Apprenticeships

    These are the equivalent to A-Levels and can usually be joined after completing the associated Intermediate Apprenticeship. They are ideal for people who want a practical role as they learn while gaining valuable employment experience. Engineers with Advanced Apprenticeships tend to progress to management a lot quicker than those without, as the skills they learn help them progress. Here are some of the Apprenticeship Frameworks for this sector and all of these will result in a Level 3 qualification such as a BTEC, a Diploma or an NVQ.
    Engineering • Engineering Construction • Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration • Marine Industry

    A higher Apprenticeship (NVQ Level 4) is also available in Engineering Technology.


    A-Levels are the most popular gateway into university and are sought after by employers. Here are some of the relevant A-Levels for this sector:
    Biology • Chemistry • Design and Technology • Maths • Marine Science • Physics

    Foundation Degrees

    A Foundation Degree combines university lifestyle with practical, hands on work. It’s sort of like a cross between an Apprenticeship and an Honours Degree. They are often used as gateway qualifications to a full time Degree as they count towards the first two years of an Honours Degree. They usually take two years to complete and you’ll be both in the work place and on the university campus. They are available in a range of engineering subjects, including marine, aircraft and chemical.

    More Info


    Case Study


    Marine Engineering

    At Warsash Maritime Academy (WMA) we train men and women to become the captains and chief engineers who command the large container ships that carry 90% of our goods, the tankers that transport our fuel and the cruise ships who take us on holiday to exotic far off places.

    These officers are merchant seafarers and work for commercial shipping companies. British ships’ officers have an excellent worldwide reputation and career prospects at sea or back on land are superb.

    The shipping industry offers the chance of an adventurous lifestyle packed with exciting and well-paid career prospects, which are associated with challenges and responsibility for those who want more from a career than the usual ‘nine to five’ routine.

    The route to train as an officer in the deck, engineering or electro-technical department of a ship is through an officer cadetship training scheme. This is a mix of academic study at a nautical college such as WMA and sea service with a shipping company. The scheme covers a three year period and follows either an HND or foundation degree programme.

    Enrolling as an officer cadet means that whilst training your course fees are paid for by the shipping companies through sponsorship. The application process is through the shipping company and not UCAS, as you need to undertake the mandatory sea service during training periods.

    To find out more about this exciting career visit our web page on Officer Cadet Training. Come along to our careers at sea open day on Friday 27 June 2014.