Engineering salary round-up: from graduate to chartered engineer

Discover what a typical engineering graduate salary is like, how much the top graduate schemes pay and average salaries for incorporated and chartered engineers.

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A typical salary for a graduate engineering job with a high-profile graduate employer in the UK is around the £26,000 to £29,000 mark. Salaries for graduate schemes advertised with TARGETjobs Engineering tend to range between around £22,000 to £30,000. A few engineering employers pay more, typically (but not exclusively) oil and gas giants such as BP, Shell and ExxonMobil. Salaries for graduate engineers working for small and medium-sized or regional employers tend to be slightly lower, often between £18,000 and £25,000.

What is the average salary for an engineering graduate?

The Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey, which questioned 2016/17 graduates approximately six months after they graduated, found that the mean starting salary of engineering and technology graduates was £26,173, compared to the average of £22,370 for all graduates.

The report also outlines the mean starting salary for first degree leavers in the following subject areas:

  • General engineering: £27,849
  • Civil engineering: £26,338
  • Mechanical engineering: £26,344
  • Aerospace engineering: £26,058
  • Naval architecture: £25,063
  • Electronic and electrical engineering: £26,031
  • Production and manufacturing engineering: £25,492
  • Chemical, process and energy engineering: £27,093

It's worth noting, though, that these figures cover both engineering graduates working in engineering and those who moved on to other fields.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Student Employers' (ISE) 2018 Annual Survey reported that the average starting salary for graduates in an engineering job role was £30,790. However, bear in mind that the study is based on employees at ISE members, who typically pay more than other employers. It also reported the median starting salaries for graduates in the following sectors (this covers graduates in all roles, not just engineering):

  • Fast-moving consumer goods: £30,438
  • Chemical or pharmaceuticals: £29,500
  • Engineering or industrial: £27,219
  • Built environment: £27,100
  • Energy, water or utilities: £26,818

Will I get paid more if I have a postgraduate degree?

Some engineering employers do pay their graduates more if they have a masters degree or PhD. National Grid, for example, offers graduates with a masters a slightly higher starting salary.

A postgraduate degree can also boost your future salary. The Engineering Council's most recent survey, the Survey of Registered Engineers and Technicians 2013, found that the median basic income for engineers educated to graduate level was £56,000; for those educated to postgraduate level the figure was £62,000.

What salary progression can a graduate engineer expect?

Many engineering employers state that their graduates can expect to see their salary reviewed – and potentially increased – on a regular basis. How much your salary will increase over the course of your graduate scheme will depend on the individual employer, though.

The ISE 2018 Development Survey can give you an idea of the typical salary progression for graduate engineers. It found that the median salary progression after three years for graduates recruited in 2014 was:

  • 11% at engineering and industrial companies
  • 25% at construction/built environment companies
  • 35% at energy, water and utilities companies

What is my earning potential as an engineer?

To give you an idea of what you might earn in the future, the Office for National Statistics Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2017, which looks at all engineers, not just fresh graduates, reported the following mean salaries.

  • Electronic engineers: £45,348
  • Electrical engineers: £47,905
  • Mechanical engineers: £46,974
  • Civil engineers: £43,292
  • Production and process engineers: £41,770
  • Design and development engineers: £41,944

Will I earn more as a chartered engineer or incorporated engineer?

The Engineering Council’s Survey of Registered Engineers and Technicians includes earning levels for experienced engineers with both chartered and incorporated engineer status. Its most recent survey, published in 2014, reported that the median annual earnings (including bonuses, overtime pay etc) was £63,000 for chartered engineers and £45,500 for incorporated engineers.

For chartered engineers, the tenth percentile was £38,000 (ie those whose earning levels were higher than ten per cent of the others in the survey); the 90th percentile was £110,000 (ie those whose earning levels were higher than 90 per cent of the others in the survey). For incorporated engineers, the tenth percentile was £31,000; the 90th percentile was £76,316.

Starting salaries for engineering employers' graduate schemes

A lot of employers simply state 'competitive salary' on their careers websites, but here are some employers that disclose their graduate starting salaries.

The following figures relate to starting salaries for 2019/20.

  • AECOM graduate salary: £24,000–£27,000
  • Airbus graduate salary: £27,000
  • Associated British Foods - Grocery graduate salary: £30,000
  • Babcock International Group graduate salary: £29,000–£31,000
  • BAE Systems graduate salary: a minimum of £28,000 (graduate programme); £30,000 (finance leader development programme and applied intelligence future talent)
  • Bakkavor graduate salary: £27,000
  • BMW Group graduate salary: £31,000
  • BP graduate salary: £35,000–£40,000
  • Caterpillar graduate salary: £29,266–£29,766 for the engineering programme and £27,266–£28,766 for non-engineering programmes depending on experience
  • Centrica graduate salary: £32,000
  • DSTL graduate salary: £24,000–£28,000
  • EDF Energy graduate salary: £27,500
  • INEOS graduate salary: £35,500
  • Jaguar Land Rover graduate salary: £29,000
  • Manufacturing Technology Centre graduate salary: £30,000
  • MBDA graduate salary: £26,500
  • Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains graduate salary: £33,000
  • Metaswitch graduate salary: £36,000
  • Ministry of Defence – Defence Equipment and Support graduate salary: £26,500
  • Morrisons graduate salary: £27,000
  • Mott MacDonald graduate salary: £28,000–£31,000
  • National Grid graduate salary: £28,105–£29,127 depending on qualifications
  • Network Rail graduate salary: £26,500
  • Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK graduate salary: £31,314
  • nucleargraduates graduate salary: £26,000
  • Raytheon graduate salary: £27,500
  • Rolls-Royce graduate salary: £28,500
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) graduate salary: £26,932
  • Severn Trent graduate salary: £27,000
  • Toyota graduate salary: £28,350
  • UK Power Networks graduate salary: £31,199
  • Unilever graduate salary: £32,000
  • United Utilities graduate salary: £28,500
  • Wates graduate salary: £20,500–£27,500
  • Welsh Water graduate salary: £24,000+

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