Engineers belong to the greatest profession
in the world, responsible for almost everything that
makes life worth living - from leisure activities to
medical treatment, mobile communications to modern transport
the wide boundaries of the engineering profession, there
are thousands of challenging activities, in areas such
as research, development, design, manufacture and operation
of products and services. Activities which provide stimulating
intellectual challenges with diverse and varied tasks,
inevitably involving deadlines, and all added to the
satisfaction of real output or delivery.
Demand for good engineers is high, in practically every
country in the world. In the IT and electronics sectors
in particular, there are world shortages of Chartered
and Incorporated Engineers, and unemployment amongst
professional engineers is lower than for almost any
Engineering degrees can lead to a vast number of career
opportunities, with graduates in demand in almost every
sector of the economy. The word used most often when
referring to a career in engineering is variety; and
electrical, civil, marine, chemical, software, systems,
information and manufacturing engineering offer a host
of alternative job opportunities for new graduates.
range from Automation to Power Generation and from Communications
to Manufacturing. Within each of these fields, there
are opportunities in research, design, development and
tests, as well as management, production, marketing
and sales. A degree can also provide a passport into
the world of education.
Professional engineers also stand a better chance of
becoming a chief executive than any other professional,
outnumbering accountants by three to one!
The environment in which engineering professionals
work has never been more dynamic. New materials, technologies
and processes are being developed all the time. Increasing
globalisation, new markets, and changing employment
patterns also mean that an engineering career is now
a truly international one.
How to Qualify
school, students should take a board range of subjects
covering both art and sciences. Mathematics and Physics
are usually essential, but English is also important,
and a foreign language desirable. Minimum qualifications
for entry to an Engineering degree course are normally
'A' levels or equivalent in Mathematics and Physics,
but a third subject in either the Arts or Sciences ensures
a wider choice of degree options. Students without the
relevant 'A' levels have the opportunity to 'convert'
on one-year pre-entry courses at selected universities.
With the exception of a few specialist courses, it
is common for all students to take the same subjects
in the first year(s) of a degree, before going on to
specialise in the final year(s), when they can choose
from a number of options. For this reason, when selecting
a course it is important to check what options are available,
especially if undergraduates already have a specific
career in mind. However, specialising in one area whilst
at University does not preclude working in another field
of the profession at a later date.
What type of degree?
is a wide variety of undergraduate and postgraduate
courses available worldwide, many of which are discussed
in the articles listed on the left. However, in the
end, the choice of which course to take must be a personal
one, dependent on the aims, circumstances and preferences
of the individual student.
A degree is only the beginning of the formation of
a professional engineer. In order to qualify for membership
of a professional engineering institution, or to qualify
for Chartered Engineering status, graduates will often
have a minimum of two years industrial training, and
two years career development in a responsible position.
Embarking on a training programme in a major industry
enables new graduates to develop experience of a wide
range of jobs, and acquire a broad understanding of
engineering activity outside their own branch. Students
who were sponsored during their degree courses may already
have spent time in industry, and will have started to
give their academic studies an industrial perspective.
Postgraduate training also offers graduates the chance
to keep their career options open, as the opportunity
to experience the work of different sectors of an industry
can open up new areas of interest not previously appreciated.
The IEE accredits industrial training programmes, each
year producing a list of companies that undertake to
provide accredited training.
There is little doubt that the world of engineering
- and all that it encompasses -offers exciting opportunities
for both men and women. The industrial and economic
success of every nation is rooted firmly in its manufacturing
and engineering base, and the skills and ingenuity of
its professional engineers. The ability to research,
develop and apply new technologies is essential, particularly
in today's global markets.
In the UK alone, engineering-led industry contributes
about 40% of its gross domestic product, and is the
'goose that lays the golden eggs' for its national economy.
From space travel to household electrician, the role
of the engineer is crucial. For anyone looking for a
rewarding future with a wide variety of employment prospects,
there has never been a more exciting time to embark
on a career in engineering.