Engineering remains a vibrant sector with strong demand in some traditional sectors and growing demand in newer, emerging ones.
One such traditional sector is the oil and gas industry. Its ongoing and long-term serious shortage of engineers, particularly with structural, chemical and mechanical backgrounds, continues to cause major problems for the industry. Not least as billions of Pounds worth of investments are currently underway in the Middle East, Far East, India, Eastern Europe and South America. If this sector interests you, take a look at the Career Engineer website (www.thecareerengineer.com) to see what is available – and where.
It’s a similar story on the construction and infrastructure side of things too. So while the 2012 London Olympics is driving demand for a wide range of engineering graduates in the UK, Australia’s huge infrastructure developments are desperately short of highway engineers, geotechnical engineers and hydrogeologists.
At the same time, the emergence of the “green economy” is also fuelling demand for engineering graduates. Expect to see an increasing demand for your skills in the development of environmental technologies to reduce carbon emissions, provide sustainable energy supplies, develop new techniques and materials for construction and to sustain sanitation and waste management. The United Nations Environment Programme expects the value of such products and services to reach nearly £2000 billion by 2020, but both the Confederation of British Industry and the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory have identified a serious lack of engineers as a major problem now and into the immediate future.
You are also about to enter a profession with an interesting demographic challenge: within the next decade or so a huge number of experienced engineers are due to retire, particularly those with mechanical, chemical and civil backgrounds. In fact the Institution of Civil Engineers (www.ice.org.uk) estimates that over the next 10-15 years approximately 50 per cent of the UK’s chartered civil engineers will retire. This will add to the shortages that have led to healthy pay rises for civil engineers in recent years (see ££ – the pay). The ICE notes that while this skills shortage will present problems for the UK economy, it represents an excellent time in which to begin a career in civil engineering – the same as can be said for many other engineering careers too.
The latest figures from the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (www.hesa.ac.uk/) show that engineering graduates earned an average of £22,401 in their first posts, almost £4000 more than graduates as a whole.
This backs up research carried out by several of the engineering institutions showing that engineering graduate salaries are at the top end of the scale. For example, the latest salary survey from the ICE reveals that its graduates have an average annual salary of £26,833.
The ICE recruitment website (www.icerecruit.com) is a great place to start your research when looking for jobs in this sector. Typical salaries and roles include £22,000-26,000 for a graduate civil engineering to join a Birmingham-based water environment team and £20,000-26,000 to join an international water management company based in Manchester.
Graduate chemical engineers also earn over £26,000 according to the Institution of Chemical Engineers. Its salary surveys consistently put chemical engineering graduates ahead of all other engineering graduates in terms of pay. In fact chemical engineering salaries have risen by over 50% since 1996, with those choosing to work towards chartered status reaping further rewards (see: ECUK: is it worth it?).
Recruitment agencies give a good picture of what is going on in terms of pay and jobs, too. For example, a snapshot of vacancies on the Reed website (www.reed.co.uk) includes: £19,000 for a graduate electrical engineer to join a railway company project team, £21,500-24,000 for an electrical/control engineering graduate to join Pilkington, £23,185 for an electrical engineering graduate at Toyota, £25,000 for electrical and mechanical graduates at nPower and £24,000 for electrical, mechanical and civil engineering graduates to join Network Rail.
Other specialist engineering recruitment specialists worth a look include Kelly Engineering (www.kellyengineering.co.uk), NES (www.nes.co.uk) and Davis Graham (www.davisgraham.co.uk).