Engineering salary round-up: from graduate to chartered engineer

Discover what a typical engineering graduate salary is, 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 £27,000 to £31,000 mark. Salaries for engineering graduate schemes advertised with targetjobs tend to range between around £24,000 to £32,000. 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 £20,000 and £25,000.

What is the average salary for an engineering graduate?

Data from the Higher Education Graduate Outcomes Statistics, which asked 2018/19 graduates about their jobs approximately six months after they graduated, found that the median starting salary for engineering and technology graduates entering high-skilled jobs was £28,000 – one of the highest starting salary levels by degree subject. Bear in mind that this figure includes all graduates, not just those who have started graduate jobs in engineering.

The Institute of Student Employers' (ISE) 2021 Annual Survey reported that the median starting salary for graduates in engineering, energy and industry was £28,000. 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):

  • Built environment : £28,000
  • Health and pharmaceuticals : £29,500
  • Retail and fast-moving consumer goods : £28,000

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 on the topic, 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 2020 Development Survey suggested that an average graduate salary in engineering, energy and industry would typically progress from a starting salary of £27,500 to £35,000 after three years.

What is my earning potential as an engineer?

To give you an idea of what you might earn in the future, the 2021 salary survey by The Engineer, which looks at all engineers and not just recent graduates, reported a mean average salary level of £56,807. This had risen by 10% since the previous year.

The average salary for an engineer will vary by area of expertise, by location and by sector. Engineers working in the energy sector typically earn the highest salaries, with the average salary for respondents from the oil and gas sector standing at £75,366 in The Engineer's 2021 survey.

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 covering the topic, 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 engineering employers simply state 'competitive salary' on their graduate careers websites, but some employers disclose their graduate starting salaries – and you can find them here.

The following figures are based on recently advertised starting salaries for graduate jobs in 2020/21.

  • AECOM graduate salary: £24,000–£28,000
  • Airbus graduate salary: c. £27,000
  • Babcock International Group graduate salary: £29,500–£32,500
  • BAE Systems graduate salary: £30,000
  • Bakkavor graduate salary: £27,000
  • BMW Group graduate salary: £31,000
  • BP graduate salary: £35,000–£45,000
  • Caterpillar graduate salary: c. £27,266–£29,766 depending on programme and experience
  • Centrica graduate salary: £32,000
  • DSTL graduate salary: £22,000–£27,000
  • 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: £41,500
  • Ministry of Defence – Defence Equipment and Support graduate salary: £27,542
  • Morrisons graduate salary: c. £27,000
  • Mott MacDonald graduate salary: £28,000–£31,000
  • National Grid graduate salary: £29,254–£30,318 depending on qualifications
  • Network Rail graduate salary: £26,500
  • Nissan Motor Manufacturing UK graduate salary: £30,000
  • nucleargraduates graduate salary: £26,000
  • Raytheon graduate salary: £28,000
  • Rolls-Royce graduate salary: c. £28,500
  • Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) graduate salary: c. £28,000
  • Severn Trent graduate salary: £28,403
  • Toyota graduate salary: £32,088
  • UK Power Networks graduate salary: £31,199
  • Unilever graduate salary: £32,000
  • United Utilities graduate salary: £28,500
  • Welsh Water graduate salary: £25,254

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