Engineering is a lucrative field for those with the creativity and ingenuity to succeed. If you are naturally talented with maths and science subjects, and you enjoy problem-solving and design, you could be well suited to a career in engineering.
Qualifying as an engineer will take at least three years, and there are different routes to take into the sector. Depending on the type of work you want to pursue, you could be designing infrastructure, improving energy efficiency in an office building, or maintaining large structures such as ships or planes.
You can take a vocational route into engineering, which will allow you to work while you learn. Large companies that offer apprenticeships will have a dedicated education programme that will allow you to earn NVQ qualifications or equivalent while getting on the job experience.
If you take the university route, you could study for a Bachelor’s degree or a Master’s degree in engineering. Specialisms are also available for those who know what sector they want to study. After gaining an engineering degree, you will be able to start applying for graduate engineer jobs and begin building your skills and experience.
Before entering the sector, many individuals want to know how much they can be earning. Some specialities offer higher earning potential than others, particularly when you factor in the possibility of gaining chartered status. Read on to learn how much you could earn based on your chosen engineering speciality.
A gas engineer is qualified to work on all gas appliances and fixtures. A typical day could include fixing gas mains or installing new energy-efficient boilers. Gas engineers are highly skilled and enjoy hands-on work in their roles. It is an active and varied role that will typically involve plenty of travel and working in different locations.
The starting salary for a newly qualified gas engineer is around £32,500. This may be higher or lower depending on where you live, with London-based engineers typically earning slightly higher rates.
With experience and further training, you could expand your skillset and take on more challenging roles, allowing you to boost your earning potential. A gas engineer with a good amount of experience could be earning £37,500 by the middle of their career. This could increase to as much as £60,000 for the top earners.
Civil engineers are involved in creating everything around us, from the sewer systems under our feet to the skyscrapers above our heads. It is a varied and creative role that is ideal for those with commercial acumen and a creative flair for problem-solving.
The average salary for a civil engineer is typically around £31,000, and this may be boosted with annual performance-based bonuses and other benefits. At the start of your career, a graduate civil engineer can expect a starting salary of around £23,500. This will increase to around £26,500 with a few years of experience.
Top earning engineers can command salaries of up to £80,000. To reach this level, you would typically need advanced training to achieve chartered status. This would allow you to become a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers which will open up new job opportunities.
As a structural engineer, you will work alongside architects to help bring ideas to life. You might work for a local authority creating complex structures, or work for yourself assisting with residential builds. You will help to ensure new structures are safe and constructed correctly.
Structural engineers have the opportunity to set their own working hours and rates. To hire a structural engineer for a simple residential project, an individual can expect to pay around £90 per hour or from £400 per week. You could also charge a flat fee for services, allowing you to better plan your income.
As a sole trader or limited company, you will be responsible for all business expenses and for liability insurance. However, you have the chance to set your own rates and decide when you want to work.
Mechanical engineers work across a number of sectors and industries to help find solutions to everyday problems. This could mean designing small components for larger machines or creating custom parts and machinery for specific tasks. It is a varied and hands-on role that is ideally suited to those who enjoy solving problems.
As a newly qualified mechanical engineer, you can expect to earn around £20,000 to £28,000 in your first graduate role. With experience, a mid-level mechanical engineer can earn between £35,000 to £50,000. At a senior level, you can expect to earn in excess of £60,000.
As with all sectors of engineering, the type of company you work for will determine your earning potential. Additional specialist training will also allow you to boost your earnings. Choosing a niche sector and specialising could help to boost your income as you will be more in demand.
Electrical engineers work in a variety of roles in a number of sectors. They might work on small residential projects or on large scale industrial sites. You might be involved in the planning, implementation or maintenance stages, depending on your skills and experience. You could be working for a construction company, local authority or transportation company.
A graduate electrical engineer can expect a salary of around £24,000 to £28,000. With experience and additional training, you can expect this to rise to around £35,000 to £60,000 by the middle of your career. The top-earning electrical engineers make in excess of £85,000.
As with all engineering career paths, you can increase your earning potential by achieving chartered status. Your choice of employer and sector will also have a huge impact on how much you make as an electrical engineer.
Chemical engineers are always in demand and are rewarded for their unique skillset and advanced training. You might work in the petrochemical, medicine or plastics industry to help design and develop a range of products. This could mean you are working in the food and drink sector, energy, pharmaceuticals or water treatment. It is an incredibly varied role that will enable you to specialise in the sectors that interest you the most.
Chemical engineering graduates earn a median salary of around £28,600. At the start of your career, you can expect to be earning around £30,000, and this could increase to £54,000 as you climb the ranks.
As a chartered chemical engineer, you can expect to significantly increase your earning potential. The median salary for a chartered engineer is around £78,500. Working in certain sectors can open up even bigger salaries with added benefits such as bonuses and commission.
Chemical engineers will typically appear at the top of engineer salary league tables. After this, electrical engineers, aerospace engineers and civil engineers lead the list. This is followed by computer hardware engineers, nuclear engineers, biomedical engineers and environmental engineers.
Your earning potential will depend on your training, experience, the size of your employer and the sector you work in. In general, if fewer engineers are working in your field and speciality and your skills are highly in demand, you can expect to earn a higher salary.
Engineering salaries will start as low as £20,000 but could increase to in excess of £80,000 with hard work and dedication to your profession. Employers may add additional benefits such as commission or bonuses based on performance.
Gaining chartered status will allow you to increase your earning potential. To achieve chartered status, you will typically need to undertake additional postgraduate training, although this isn’t always required. You may need a four-year accredited MEng degree, a BA and MA, or a BA degree and on the job experience.
Some employers will offer a training programme that allows you to gain the skills and experience you need to achieve chartered status. This may include mentorship from a senior engineer to help you pass the professional review.
Another way to increase your earnings as an engineer would be to choose a specialist sector. The more in demand you are, the more you can expect to earn. Look for lucrative sectors such as civil engineering or chemical engineering for the highest earning potential.
And finally, you can think about the type of employer you want to work for. A small employer might allow you to work your way into a senior role much faster, but the earning potential in the role might be limited. With a larger employer, it might take longer to move up the ranks, but the earning potential will typically be much higher. You may also benefit from extra benefits such as health insurance, a mortgage allowance or a bonus scheme.