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Engineering, Design and Technology skills and careers

Career opportunities

In the UK many graduates enter employment where a degree in any subject would be acceptable. In this instance what they offer the employer is evidence of the range of competencies which have been developed through their academic study, rather than the specific subject content of their degree. This page will focus on careers directly related to Engineering, Technology and Design, but if you want to explore all of the choices open to you, also refer to the sources of help available in Further resources for planning your career.

Given the current economic climate and the increased competition for graduate positions, it is important to consider a range of occupational areas. Bear in mind that many careers require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your first degree.

We advise you to thoroughly research your career choices as early as possible, particularly in relation to experience required, differences that relate to where you live, or where the study choices you make may affect future opportunities.

The UK has great strengths in its engineering, technology and design sectors, being world leaders in areas such as aerospace, motor sports and energy. The demand for professional engineers, technologists and designers who can come up with creative ideas and implement cost effective solutions has remained steady despite changes in global economies. Engineering, technology and design continue to be at the heart of wealth-generating industries, particularly with increasing developments in and focus on urban design, sustainability, digital and mobile technology.

According to Prospects’ 'What do graduates do?' 2018/19, almost 40% of UK employers reported difficulties recruiting staff with relevant STEM skills. Demand for jobs has been created by new technologies, particularly nanotechnology, and graduates can find employment across a whole range of manufacturing and service industries. For further information on STEM in the different regions of England see the National STEM Centre website.

Growth areas are predicted to be:

  • energy/environment
  • nuclear engineering
  • petroleum engineering
  • nanotechnology and biotechnology
  • telecommunications
  • aerospace, space technology and exploration
  • civil engineering
  • robotics
  • biomedical engineering
  • creative industries
  • automotive industry (low carbon vehicle development in particular).

Campaigns such as WISE (Women into Science, Engineering and Construction) have emerged to tackle the low rates of women in STEM subjects and a growing skills shortage. Several large companies and professional organisations also have mentoring schemes for women. The Women's Engineering Society is a professional network of women engineers, scientists and technologists offering inspiration and support to women entering the profession.

Equal Engineers aims to increase the diversity of the engineering workforce by connecting inclusive employers with candidates from under-represented groups such as women, LGBT+ and BAME.

Opportunities exist in research, design and development, commissioning, project management, technical sales and marketing, technical journalism and patent work. With appropriate experience and qualifications it is also possible to be a self-employed consultant.

UK trained engineers are also in demand for projects abroad and as employees of international firms.

The Engineering Council is the UK regulatory body for the engineering profession and SEMTA is the sector skills council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing. They provide a gateway to news, information and resources for those pursuing a career in science, engineering and technology.

Further useful links

These resources will help you explore careers in further detail:

You will also find information about general job vacancy sites, work experience and volunteering at:

Postgraduate Study

Many Engineering, Technology and Design graduates undertake further study on completion of their first degree and/or after gaining relevant work experience. Reasons for doing so include wanting to explore an aspect of their studies in more depth, to further or change their career, because a specific postgraduate qualification is either an entry requirement for their chosen career, e.g. studying for a Masters or Doctorate in order to become a Chartered Engineer, or because it would be an advantage if entry is competitive.

Generally postgraduate study can open up opportunities to work in higher education, research, specific skill areas and perhaps consultancy.

There are a range of Engineering, Technology and Design related OU postgraduate study options such as the MEng (to gain chartered status), Systems Thinking in Practice and Technology Management.

It is important to research further study options comprehensively by exploring the range of postgraduate courses and research opportunities on offer, and funding possibilities, to ensure you make the correct choice, for the right reasons and importantly that you can afford it, as funding for postgraduate study is very different to the undergraduate system.

Last updated 1 year ago