If you're looking for a secure job in a thriving industry, then a career as an engineer is a good choice. There are over 1.7 million people in the UK employed in these roles and the industry offers a diverse range of jobs at various different levels.
Whether you're academically inclined or more of a hands-on type, there is something to suit you whatever interests or skills.
We've put together this article as a guide to the different types of engineering jobs available. While it's not an exhaustive list, it should help you pinpoint the type of sector that you'd like to work in.
'The range of engineering jobs means there's something for you whatever your interests'
First of all, remind yourself what engineering is in this short video:
An architect is responsible for the design and construction of the buildings. Every building that you see around you started out as an idea in an architect's mind. Jobs in architectural engineering are highly sought-after and you'll need to have a good understanding of maths, science and design in order to work in this type of engineering career.
Skills/qualities required: An eye for detail, good with numbers, the ability to visualise and see things through.
Chemical engineering involves working with substances that can be used to provide us with useful products in our everyday lives. There are various types of chemical engineering jobs out there but on a very basic level, most involve working towards solving problems. The pharmaceutical industry for example, needs chemists to continually develop more effective medications.
Skills/qualities required: An interest in chemistry, team-working skills, the ability to follow procedures and carry out formulas.
Qualifications needed: A degree in chemistry and physics at A-level.
Civil engineering is a commonly misunderstood type of engineering. Generally speaking, civil engineers are concerned with the built environment, usually from a transportation perspective. They work on projects concerned with things like bridges, tunnels, car parks, railway lines etc. and are responsible for making sure that their design and construction is carried out to specification. Check out our interview with a civil engineering graduate.
Skills/qualities required: An interest in transport, good with numbers, organisational skills.
Qualifications needed: An engineering degree, A-Levels in physics, maths and design technology are all useful.
One of the most widely-known types of engineering jobs, electrical engineering involves working with electricity in domestic and commercial settings. Depending on the specific job, as an electrical worker, you could find yourself working on building sites, on various forms of transport or in people's properties.
Skills/qualities required: Ability to work alone and as part of a team, problem solving skills, a cautious approach.
Qualifications needed: A-Level physics, a degree in physics depending on the entry-level role.
Environmental workers help protect our natural environment and safeguard people and buildings from the effects of the environment. This is a diverse sector and can include working on projects such as flood prevention in towns and cities and protecting coastal buildings from soil erosion. A career in environmental engineering can be challenging but very rewarding.
Qualifications needed: A-Levels in science subjects, a degree in an environment-related subject.
Mechanics offers a range of diverse roles. In general, mechanics work with machines, assisting in their design and construction. A mechanic could find themselves working on anything from trains to complex computer systems and anything in between. For more information on mechanical engineering careers, take a look at our 60 Second Interview with a Formula 1 Engineer.
Skills/qualities required: A strong grasp of numbers, good technical knowledge, an interest in technology.
Qualifications needed: A-Levels in physics and maths, a degree in mechanics or a related subject.
The oil industry has always been a thriving sector in the UK. Despite periods of downturn, a career working offshore in the oil sector can be very well paid. This role typically involves drilling for oil reserves in the North Sea using high-powered equipment and state-of-the-art technology. Oil work is one of the highest paid engineering jobs available in the UK.
Skills/qualities required: Good problem-solving skills, an awareness of health and safety, ability to work in a team.
Qualifications needed: A-Levels in science subjects and Maths. A degree is required for most entry-level roles.
One of the lesser-known types of engineering jobs, as the name suggests, rail engineers work exclusively with trains and their associated systems. Rail engineers are responsible for maintaining and developing the technology used to run our rail systems in the UK. Part of the role of a rail worker can involve working with mechanics and electrics.
Skills/qualities required: Problem-solving skills, an interest in rail travel, a good head for numbers.
Qualifications needed: A-Levels in science subjects and maths, a degree in Mechanical or Electrical Engineering.
One of the better-known types of engineering jobs, a software engineer works primarily with computer components. This role involves designing and building software for IT infrastructures. To work in software, you need to have a broad knowledge of technology and computers as well as good practical abilities.
Skills/qualities required: Good technical knowledge, an interest in computers, problem-solving skills.
Qualifications needed: A-Levels in computer science, IT, maths and science subjects will be useful.
This might not be one of the first types of jobs you think of but the transport sector is a thriving industry. There will always be a demand for transport workers and as such, the various roles in the sector tend to be well-paid. Transport working involves designing, maintaining and improving different forms of transport. If you're interested in a career in transport engineering, check out our interview with a shipyard engineer.
Skills/qualities required: An interest in transport, good problem solving skills, team-working skills.
Qualifications needed: A-Levels in maths and science subjects. A degree in mechanical or automotive engineering.
Choosing a role within your area
There are various different roles within each sector and the list above only really scrapes the surface of what's available. However, hopefully after reading through the different types of engineering jobs, you'll have a better idea of the specific engineering career that you're interested in.
Depending on the type of career that you want to pursue, it's worth noting that there are various different paths into the industry. There are some entry-level jobs that require you to have A-level qualifications as a minimum entry requirement, whereas other more specialist roles will require you to have a degree.
The sector is known for its large private companies and many offer fast-track schemes for secondary school leavers or graduate schemes for those leaving university. As part of your research into careers in engineering, you should take a look at the current vacancies on offer at specific companies to see what qualifications and experience they look for in candidates.
This infographic summarises some of the reasons you might think about going into engineering:
Do you have your sights set on one of the careers above? If so, which of the types of engineering jobs above appeals to you the most and why? We'd be keen to hear your thoughts.