Engineering is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of disciplines. From electrical engineering to software engineering, it is all concerned with the construction structures and processes using the principles of physics and maths. Engineers design, build, test and maintain a wide range of systems and processes, so it’s an obvious career path for those who are natural-born problem solvers.
Engineers also happen to be in high demand at the moment. Development projects across all areas of society mean that engineers are highly sought after. As this is a specialised field that requires extensive training, this isn’t a career path that people can quickly pivot towards. There needs to be a steady intake of engineering students and engineering apprentices in order to ensure there will be enough engineers to meet future demands.
If you’re thinking about training as an engineer either as your first degree or by switching from another sector, you would be wise to choose one of these future-proof specialities. These are all in demand at the moment, but they also have longevity. You can expect that these specialities will always be in demand, now and in the future.
An automation and robotics engineer is a type of mechanical engineer tasked with designing and building systems and robots that eliminate the need for human labour. With so much focus on automation at the moment, you can guarantee that this type of engineering will be around for some time. You’ll need an analytical and creative approach to your work in order to be able to solve real-world problems through automation and robotics.
Some experts believe that data is the new oil, we just haven’t learnt how to make the most of it yet. Data scientists and data analytics engineers are tasked with gathering, processing and making sense of large volumes of data. Data is only valuable if we can gather insight from it, so this role will be essential in the coming years as companies struggle to cope with the sheer volume of data collected. Data science could also be the key to making our world more efficient and reducing energy consumption.
Project engineers will always be in demand due to the versatile nature of their roles. They are responsible for project managing engineering projects and providing a central point of contact throughout. They might be involved with presenting ideas to clients, hiring teams of contractors to complete the work and then supervising the build to ensure it meets all of the required standards. It’s an excellent career choice for individuals who love working with others and pride themselves on their organisational skills.
As you might imagine, renewable energy engineering is currently in high demand and this demand is only going to soar in the coming years. A renewable energy engineer is involved with the design, development and maintenance of wind, solar and hydropower facilities. As the world shifts focus to sustainable and renewable energy sources, the demand for this engineering sector is only going to increase. Engineers might work across industrial or domestic installations. As the world becomes less reliant on energy sources such as natural gas, you can expect a rise in demand for heating systems such as air source heat pumps, and engineers will be required to install these.
The built world is designed by civil engineers and they are essential for designing, building and maintaining structures that are all around us. From airports and bridges to hospitals and schools, a civil engineer is likely to have had input in everything you see. Ageing structures will always need to be maintained and updated, and ambitious new building projects are going up all around us. Civil engineers will also be essential to help the world cope with the impact of climate change, as many of our current structures will not be designed to withstand extreme weather events.
As mentioned before, the world is going to need to adapt to more extreme weather events, and this is where environmental engineers get their chance to shine. An environmental engineer works to protect living organisms by employing principles from chemistry, biology, ecology, hydraulics, geology, mathematics and microbiology. It’s a broad discipline that will always be in demand as long as humans need ever more scarce resources to survive. This role will also be helpful in the protection of wildlife, which could be essential for the survival of humankind. Environmental engineers are likely to be pivotal in protecting pollinators from decline.
A biomedical engineer uses the principles of chemistry, biology, maths and microbiology to engineer new medicines and devices for use in a wide range of settings. They also create the systems and machines that are essential throughout healthcare settings. When we think about the past few years and the demand that the global Covid-19 pandemic placed on healthcare, it’s easy to see why biomedical engineers are in high demand. These specialist engineers will likely have been involved in the rapid development and deployment of the various vaccines. They will also have been pivotal for developing systems for testing.
Computers dominate all corners of our lives and most people rely on them every day for everything from calling a taxi to communicating with loved ones. A software systems engineer is required to design, develop and maintain complex software systems. These systems are often working quietly behind the scenes, helping to power the front end systems that users know and love. Software engineering might feel like a crowded sector, but there will always be demand for qualified software systems engineers.
Mechanical engineers are essential across a number of different sectors, including power, transport, water, manufacturing and healthcare. They are tasked with designing, building and maintaining mechanical devices and sensors including engines, devices and tools. Taking a niche approach to engineering is an excellent way to ensure that your skills are always in demand. Humans are always going to need mechanical devices, so this is one future-proof career choice worth considering.
Structural engineers are an essential part of the construction sector. They work alongside civil engineers, architects and construction teams to ensure that structures are sufficiently strong and stable. They have a niche understanding of the impact materials and environment have on structural integrity. Structural engineers will always be an essential part of any building project, but they are also essential for the maintenance of existing structures. Ageing infrastructure will always be an issue, and structural engineers will be essential to ensure structures remain safe.
If you’re thinking about upgrading your skills to future-proof your career, the best ways into engineering are through university education or an apprenticeship. The former will allow you to learn everything you need to know to land an entry-level job in engineering. A degree in engineering will typically take 3-4 years to complete. From there, you will be able to apply for graduate engineering roles.
If you choose the apprenticeship route, you will be able to study while you work. Learning on the job is preferable to some people, as it means that they will get real-life experience. If you’re from a technical background and already have some experience with engineering sectors, then an apprenticeship might be preferable.
Certain engineering specialities will also allow individuals with training and experience gained from other sectors to apply for some engineering roles. Many electrical engineers start with on-the-job training and expand their skills from there. This could be through short courses and work experience which gives them the equivalent knowledge as formal training.
Graduate entry-level engineers can earn anything from £22,000 to £28,000, depending on the sector. Some areas of engineering are more in demand and offer a premium salary as a result. If you have to work in a more dangerous environment, you can also expect a higher salary. Work on oil rigs or with dangerous chemicals will typically offer higher rates of pay.
Mid-level engineers can expect to earn around £30,000 to £40,000 per year, and there will often be other benefits on offer, including bonus incentives and private health insurance. An engineer at the height of their career could be earning around £60,000.
If you choose to advance your training and gain chartered status, you could greatly increase your earning potential. Chartered status is an internationally-recognised status that demonstrates your skill and proficiency in a sector of engineering. This will open up certain job opportunities that are only available to those with chartered status. A chartered engineer could earn in excess of £80,000 and up to £120,000.
Engineering is typically considered to be a very stable career and there are lots of job opportunities available with large multinational corporations, private companies, consultancies and local authorities. It is a career that would also allow you to travel if this is something that is important to you.