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What can I do with an engineering degree?

16 Mar 2023, 16:28

Ready to launch your engineering career? Here's an overview of different types of engineering jobs you could go into, plus alternative careers such as IT and finance.

A rocket ready to launch; representing a career option with an engineering degree

Introduction | Skills for your CV | Job roles and career areas | Which careers attract engineering students? | How much can engineering graduates earn? | Famous people with engineering degrees

Engineers tend to be clear thinking and logical. They can follow either instructions or design specifications to the letter. They can take on a lot at once, are prepared for a challenge, aren’t afraid of long hours and work hard in order to gain good results.

Engineering graduates have a broad range of career options, including different kinds of engineering roles, jobs in related areas such as supply chain and jobs in other industries such as finance and IT.

This guide should help you think about the skills you have, the jobs they can be applied to, and the options available.

Skills for your CV

Throughout your engineering degree, specific skills you will have gained include:

  • planning
  • analytical thinking
  • presentation and other communication skills
  • numeracy, statistics and computing
  • capacity for detail
  • data analysis
  • logical thinking
  • problem solving
  • organisational abilities
  • project management
  • research skills
  • teamwork
  • resilience

Find out more about the skills required for an engineering career , plus how to demonstrate these skills at an assessment centre with an engineering employer.

Ready to add your skills to your CV? Read our advice on putting together an engineering CV and covering letter .

Types of engineering jobs

Engineering job roles include the following:

The focus of your engineering degree will affect the types of engineering jobs you are suited to.

Our advice on the job roles open to you with different types of engineering degree sets out your options:

Alternative jobs with an engineering degree

With an engineering degree, you are also well placed to pursue a career in one of the following areas, and could apply for a relevant graduate scheme with a large engineering or consumer goods employer:

  • supply chain
  • logistics
  • operation management
  • procurement and purchasing

You can find out more about these areas from our advice on alternative career paths for engineering graduates , which also covers patent work and teaching and lecturing.

Other potential options include:

Engineering graduates don't always realise that they can pursue a commercial or business-focussed career within the engineering industry. Even if you don't want to become an engineer when you graduate, you don't have to leave engineering behind completely.

What jobs do engineering and technology graduates go on to do?

Here’s what engineering and technology graduates who finished their degrees in 2018 were doing around fifteen months after graduating, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Destination Percentage
Full-time employment 65
Part-time employment in the UK 5
Voluntary or unpaid work 1
Working and studying 9
Further study 9
Unemployed 5

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Top careers for engineering and technology graduates

These are the top five areas of work taken up by 2018 engineering and technology graduates around fifteen months after graduating, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Areas of employment Percentage
Manufacturing 29
Professional, scientific and technical 21
Construction 9
Information and communication 7
Education 6
Wholesale and retail trade 5

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Which careers attract engineering students?

Energy and utilities was the most popular career choice for engineering students identified by a 2020 survey of more than 71,000 undergraduates carried out by Cibyl, a research business owned by the same company as targetjobs. Just under three quarters ( 43.4% ) of engineering students who participated in the survey said they were interested in this area. The most popular careers for engineering students were as follows:

Career Percentage
Energy and utilities 43.4% expressed an interest
Construction, civil engineering and surveying 39.9
Engineering, design and manufacture 34.6
Logistics, transport and supply chain 33.0
Scientific research and development 10.6

Source: Graduate Survey 2020

What salaries can engineering graduates earn?

As a graduate engineer, a typical starting salary with a well-known engineering employer in the UK tends to fall in the range of £24,000 to £32,000. Head to our engineering salary round-up to find out more.

Famous people with engineering degrees

If none of these options appeal to you, you don’t need to worry. There are a number of famous graduates who have taken their engineering degrees in very different directions:

  • Rowan Atkinson – he may be known for his comedy acting in Mr Bean and Blackadder , but he actually has an undergraduate degree from Newcastle University and a masters from the University of Oxford.
  • Andrew Smyth – the Great British Bake Off finalist graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2013.
  • Ashton Kutcher – studied biochemical engineering before pursuing his acting career.
  • Carol Vorderman – studied at the University of Cambridge and later became famous for presenting Countdown .
  • Cindy Crawford – the model and actress once studied chemical engineering.

Head to our dedicated engineering advice section to find out more about all your engineering career options.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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