Those who dream of a job in engineering will most likely complete an engineering degree and/or masters before applying for a role in engineering. Many students will begin by studying engineering in a broad sense before selecting specialist areas to study in subsequent modules of their course. These specialist areas often help students decide what type of engineering job they want – but what type of jobs are actually in engineering? We’ve put together this guide to help you find out.
The 7 engineering disciplines
Broadly speaking there are seven engineering disciplines, also known as sectors. These sectors contain various sub-sectors that offer different career opportunities.
The 7 main engineering sectors:
- Civil engineering
- Electrical engineering
- Mechanical engineering
- Structural engineering
- Modern technology
- Water systems and plumbing
- Energy production and supply
Within each engineering discipline there are various job opportunities. In practice, some jobs will involve more than one of these disciplines, and some graduate schemes or apprenticeships may give you the chance to try out different options to see what suits you.
Here are some of the main types of jobs in engineering:
Research and development – carrying out original research into areas that haven’t been investigated before.
Design engineering – working on an engineering project before construction/manufacturing begins, to make sure that there is a detailed, practical design to work from.
Project engineering/construction management – managing engineering or construction projects to make sure that they are completed on time, on budget, to the clients’ requirements and in line with safety legislation.
Process engineering – analysing manufacturing processes and finding ways to make them safer and more efficient.
Different engineering industries
Engineers can also work in different industries. Most industries need engineers from a range of different disciplines for the different knowledge and skills that they bring.
To give a very simplified example, in aeronautical engineering different engineers might be responsible for the following areas:
Mechanical engineers – aircraft
Electrical engineers – operating board-computers, guidance systems, communication systems, and networks
Civil engineers – runways, hangers, and landing/take-off pads
Key engineering industries include:
Aerospace (aircraft and spacecraft)
Agricultural (finding practical ways to fix engineering problems for machinery used in servicing the land – not just farm land)
Automotive (road vehicles)
Built environment (buildings and infrastructure)
Chemicals (manufacturing substances on a large scale)
Defence (production of technology that is used to ensure national security)
Electronics (design, develop and test components, devices, systems or equipment that use electricity as part of their source of power)
Energy (involved in energy production, as well as working on gas and oil extraction)
Fast-moving consumer goods (manufacturing items such as snack foods and cleaning products)
Materials and metals (developing new materials or improving existing ones)
Pharmaceuticals (pharmaceutical manufacturing)
Rail (specialise in the design, construction, and operation of all types of railway systems)
Telecoms (install, test and repair communications systems including mobile networks and fibre optics)
Utilities (covering water, sewerage, energy, and telecoms)
As well as all of these engineering sub-sectors listed above, there are many, many more. Engineering affects everything we do, from using phones to travelling and wearing clothes. That’s why there are so many types of engineering that fall within the 7 main disciplines.
What are the average salaries for different engineering jobs?
If you’re serious about a career in engineering, one big question you’re likely to have is “How much could I earn?” We’ve broken down the UK salary averages for the different engineering sectors to help give you a rough idea:
- Civil engineer - £24,000 – £80,000+ a year (UK average)
- Electrical engineer - £20,000 – £60,000+ a year (UK average)
- Mechanical engineer - £22,000 – £55,000+ a year (UK average)
- Structural engineer - £22,000 - £70,000+ a year (UK average)
- Modern technology engineer - £28,000 - £61,000+ a year (UK average)
- Water systems and plumbing engineer - £26,000 - £50,000+ a year (UK average)
- Energy engineer - £20,000 - £60,000+ a year (UK average)
Discover a career in engineering with PPR
As you can see, engineering is a broad and diverse area. It is also an excellent choice in terms of career prospects and salary expectations. If you’d like to find out more about our current opportunities within engineering call PPR on 01895 80 81 88 or contact us online.
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