How to get a graduate job in engineering
To get a graduate job as an engineer, you'll typically need a degree in an engineering discipline. You can get a job with a BEng degree, although some employers ask for an MEng degree as this is the fastest route to becoming a chartered engineer. Lots of large engineering employers support their graduates to join the relevant professional institute and work towards chartered engineer or incorporated engineer status.
The STEM skills shortage in the UK doesn't mean getting an engineering job is a walk in the park. A 2.1 or above is necessary to get hired by some of the big names in engineering but plenty of employers accept graduates with 2.2s. Find out which engineering employers accept 2.2s here.
Other degrees welcome or not?
A few employers recruit graduates from a maths, materials science or physics background for some of their technical roles. Alternatively, commercial roles within an engineering employer, such as accountancy, finance, human resources, logistics, marketing or procurement, are usually open to graduates from any degree discipline.
Graduate jobs versus schemes
Most of the major employers run an engineering graduate scheme with a large annual intake. For employers who cover a lot of areas, students usually apply to a specific stream, such as aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or civil engineering, and/or an area of the business, such as marine or energy. A graduate scheme will usually be two years long. You'll typically attend structured training alongside the rest of the graduates on the scheme and there will be a clear progression route over the duration of the scheme and once the scheme has come to an end.
You can also apply for graduate jobs. These are slightly different to graduate schemes in that you don’t graduate from the scheme after a few years. You'll still receive lots of on-the-job training but it's usually more flexible because, as the employer usually only has one or two vacancies available, you won't be on structured training programme for lots of graduates.
Some large employers advertise graduate jobs and they are also offered by smaller employers. Small- and medium-sized enterprises make up a large proportion of the engineering industry and shouldn't be overlooked as potential employers. Read our article on finding and applying to jobs with smaller engineering employers for lots of advice.
Top skills to get a job in engineering
- Problem solving - engineers and problem-solving go hand-in-hand. You're likely to encounter problems that you don't know the answer to straight away and it's your job to figure out the answer and solve the problem
- Teamwork - most projects will require engineers from a variety of disciplines and non-technical colleagues to work together to get the job done. You'll need to show that you realise you can achieve more as part of a cohesive team and you will actively contribute to your team's success
- Communication - this covers written and verbal abilities as well as interpersonal skills. You'll be working with different clients and colleagues so you'll need to be good at building relationships and adapting your style to suit who you're talking to. It's no good using lots of engineering jargon if you're talking to somebody who might be confused by it
- Leadership potential - lots of employers’ careers websites place an emphasis on looking for the companies’ future leaders. They will be impressed by somebody who seeks to motivate and support others; who isn’t afraid to speak up when they have an idea; and who values their team members' opinions
For more information, take a look at our articles on the skills engineering recruiters look for and how to show you possess these skills at assessment centres.
What life is like as an engineer
Engineers can work in a range of industries including automotive, defence, energy, pharmaceuticals and rail. Significant workloads and fixed deadlines mean that engineers have to work hard and it may be necessary to put in some extra hours now and then. The end result, though, is the satisfaction of achieving something tangible and contributing to society. There are plenty of opportunities for travel so, if you want a career that can take you anywhere in the world or even just better acquaint you with the UK, this sector is a good choice for you.