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Engineering: a versatile career

With roles available in almost every industry, engineers have a huge range of career opportunities open to them.

Lucy Ackland volunteering Behind the scenes engineers are working hard to help deliver all the things that keep our day-to-day lives running smoothly, from powering our homes and providing our transport through to helping us communicate and be entertained.

Essentially creative problem solvers, engineers have access to a versatile career that spans many industries and thanks to the varied skills they gain, their work can often cross over between sectors.

One example is Lucy Ackland’s work within the 3D printing industry. Since joining Renishaw as an apprentice back in 2004 she’s progressed up the career ladder and had the chance to get involved in a wide variety of projects.

“Throughout my career I’ve had the opportunity to work in many different roles with a variety of technologies from differing industries including aerospace to healthcare,” she says.

There’s an engineering role to suit you

Whatever your passion there’s an engineering role to suit you. Perhaps you could find yourself working on a new piece of wearable tech or designing a new training device that helps a future Olympian bring back the gold medal. Or maybe you could work on sustainability within smart cities or help uncover a solution to the issue of providing clean water to poor communities. The opportunities are endless!

“You can apply your engineering, or creative problem solving, to nearly any problem going,” says Abbie Hutty, a spacecraft structures engineer who is currently working on the ExoMars Rover Vehicle at Airbus. “It could be making spacecraft to explore new planets, like I do, but it could also be creating green energy sources, designing skyscrapers, producing clean water for developing countries or loads of different things.

Types of engineering roles on offer

“There are so many different roles in engineering – from the theoretical, working on designs and coming up with ideas, through testing and making sure that the actual ‘making’ of your idea or product is working, right out to making sure that whatever you’ve built continues to work or helping people fix it if it stops working.”

Tackling the world’s challenges big or small needs a wide range of skill sets, something all engineers gain through education and on-the-job training. As well as core science and maths knowledge, engineers also get the opportunity to problem solve and be creative – both from an office desk and out on the field – and soft skills such as teamwork and communication are just as important as logic and computing.

No two days are the same when you’re an engineer

Many engineers get to do a combination of all of these things during the course of a project that they work on. Take for example IET Technician of the Year 2016 Ozair Said, an engineering technician at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, currently involved in the Crossrail project.

“No two days can be the same in an engineer’s career. Whether writing reports, attending meetings, carrying out testing and commissioning of a telecommunications system, or undertaking site surveys across the country, you will be sure to find variety in engineering.

“You could be in an office one week and carrying out surveys 30m down in an underground tunnel the next! Of course with this much fun, there’s lots of hard work and much responsibility, but the opportunities that engineering presents are global – the world is yours to see!"

The chance to travel

Indeed another great opportunity that the versatility of being an engineer provides is the opportunity to travel. Many engineers get the chance to travel as part of their work, but they also have skills invaluable to organisations around the world and so engineers also have the chance to work in different countries if they choose.

Engineering: a versatile career

Engineers are multifaceted, multitalented and adaptable professionals that have the ability to work on many different kinds of activities across a myriad of sectors.

Whatever your passions you can build a personalised engineering career around them, solving some of the world’s biggest challenges, travelling and meeting new and exciting people. It’s an exciting time to get into engineering, with a world of exciting possibilities on offer and new technologies appearing all the time. Why not start looking into the different routes available to you?

Updated March 2017