Written by: Mike Smith | 16 Sep 2022

How do I start a career in Engineering?

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Engineering is one of the UKs largest and most well known sectors. It contributes around £650bn annually to the UKs economical output, and it’s something the UK is known for excellence within, on a global level.

The average salary within engineering is typically around £40,000. This is roughly 45% higher than the UKs national average salary. It has strong pathways into management and progression, and it’s a career that can follow you across the globe.

With all this being said, engineering is an incredibly broad sector. You could be involved in the development of next seasons winning F1 car, or you could be using a 20 year old machine to make a thousand nails an hour. Obviously, all jobs have their place, but your interest levels could vary greatly depending on the subsector.

For the purposes of this blog, I will assume you do not have an education in engineering. If you have a bachelors or masters degree within an engineering discipline, this will not apply to you.

There are several key things to consider when thinking about starting an engineering career. Engineering is broad. Do you want to be a mechanical engineer, where you typically design and build physical mechanical objects with your hands? Or would you rather be an electronics / software engineer, where you are designing circuits and automated systems using computers? Obviously, there are many more specialisms the further you go up the tree, but this’ll help as a starting point.

Once you work out which area you want to consider. You might want to investigate some suitable courses? There are plenty of 1-year courses you can enroll with in colleges, think BTEC/NVQ level. There are also lots of online software development courses that only take a few weeks. Including several of these on your CV will help dramatically.

Although looking into your education options is a good starting point, nothing beats experience. Even with some entry level qualifications, you could struggle to find an entry level role, as engineering degrees are quite popular, and employers can typically favour those applicants.

Consider your hobbies. Do you like building and maintaining cars in your spare time? Do you love getting hold of a Raspberry Pi and making it do cool things? If so, leverage this in your profile and make prospective employers know you are a passionate geek!

Apply low. Find roles for local engineering companies and apply for the lowest level roles. Even if you think you’re worth £25,000 a year, consider an £18,000 entry level manufacturing role that’ll teach you some basic engineering skills. It might even pay a tad lower than you would get working in a warehouse, but it’ll allow you to get your foot on the ladder! You can do this for a few years and progress either within, or away from that business. Typically you’ll have more luck with smaller, family run SMEs as opposed to large blue chip engineering corporations.

That’s really it. Without a top-notch engineering education, getting started can be tough. Just be resilient, and take any engineering job that can give you a foot into the industry. The lower salary will not be forever, and it will require some sacrifices, but you’ll be pleased you did it when you look back in a decade.