TARGETjobs writes for COMPARETHEUNI! - How to become an engineer!

How do i become an engineer?

Ideally, the first thing you will need to do is decide what it is that you would like to be doing in the future, and what skills and interest drive you the most. This is because engineering is made up of a whole host of potential sectors that you can work in: everything from aerospace to utilities and within each industry many specific skills can be used. This will then direct you into what engineering discipline you should be studying.

For example you may be interested in the design, manufacturing, distribution and even sales, marketing and after-sales care of motor vehicles. If these sound like something you may be interested in doing then you would be looking to study an automotive, electrical or even a mechanical engineering course. If you are interested in building infrastructures such as bridges, then you will need to be studying on either a civil or structural engineering course.

On the other hand there are other industries such as the oil and gas sector that are open to graduates of almost any pure engineering courses.  The first step should therefore be to understand what it is that you would like to be doing in the future and identifying which engineering discipline(s) is most suited to your career choice and skills that you would want to develop.

TARGETjobs Engineering offers a great list of engineering sectors that explore which discipline match to a specific industry and skills set.And TARGETjobs Constructionoffers areas of work that you would most likely undertake should you choose to study a civil or structural engineering course.

The route to an engineering qualification

Once you have decided on which discipline to study you will need to consider whether you want to study a BEng course or a MEng course. Your choice should not purely be based on the number of years that you are willing to study for (three years for a BEng and four to five for a MEng), but also on your future career plans. If, for example, you later wanted to qualify to become a chartered engineer, the ideal route would be to have studied a MEng, if not you will still need to study a MSc course or follow other steps that you could have avoided by having studied a MEng.

This is also a reason why you should check that your course is accredited, as only those accredited will be taken into consideration when you start to work towards your charted or incorporated engineer qualification. Find out more information on chartered and incorporate engineering qualifications here.

The importance of work experience

It is vital that you look into doing some sort of work experience while undertaking your studies. Whether it’s a long-term placement or a short-term one, work experience is worth the effort it takes to seek out.  The obvious advantages are the skills you gain and the insights into what the engineering work environment is really like. But one thing that almost all engineering students say about their engineering work experience is how much it helps them with their studies when they return to uni.  This is because they can get a glimpse of how all the theory they learn is put into practice.

Another great aspect of work experience is that it will flag up extra niche areas of interests; this may help you to narrow down your job options, which means you can really tailor your CV accordingly. Work experience may also flag up areas that you are not interested in. This will save you ending up on a graduate scheme you don’t like.

Getting an engineering job

It’s not all over after you graduate:different engineering jobs require different types of training. A lot will be done on the job but, where necessary, employers will support the learning of their graduate engineers with specialist courses. Engineering employers take the training of their graduates very seriously, which is why this is a good talking point for job interviews. It is worth knowing about engineering professional qualification routes beforehand as these will not only boost your career but will also show that you are a competent engineer. This is likely to involve working towards becoming either a chartered engineer (CEng) or an incorporated engineer (IEng). These are usually undertaken via an accredited graduate scheme.

Again you will need to ask yourself which qualification is more appropriate for yourself, and do your research.

Once you decide which route to go down, becoming professionally qualified is easiest if you can find a graduate scheme that is approved by the appropriate professional institution. You will need to find out how you will be supported and how you will gain the right breadth of experience. To find information on this you will need to ask interviewers, meet employers at presentations, ask recruiters about numbers of people on the scheme, and pass rates and the average time it takes for a graduate to qualify.