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Notre Dame High School

Notre Dame
High School

Careers in engineering

Engineers find practical uses for scientific and mathematical discoveries. They're the ones behind the many objects, products and structures that make modern life possible – from getting around to staying warm. From railways to robots, engineers are behind some of the most amazing things that we use in our everyday lives.

What jobs are out there?

Engineering is a vast field, with the industry employing around a quarter of the UK workforce! More familiar roles include civil or structural engineer – professionals who are involved in the design of buildings and infrastructure such as roads, railways and bridges. However, engineers also work in areas as diverse as medicine and computing.


For example, software engineers design computer programs and apps, while biomedical engineers develop technology for use in medicine, such as robotic limbs or surgical tools. Electronic engineers on the other hand design circuitry which goes into gadgets such as smartphones, games consoles and even cars. Regardless of the field, all these engineers use problem-solving skills to design solutions to technical challenges.

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Career Zone: Engineering

Check out our Engineering Career Zone for information about this area of work, many more jobs and guidance on what it takes to succeed in a career in engineering.

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What skills do I need?

Analytical skills: The ability to look at information and work out what is important and relevant to the task in hand is vital for engineers. It is crucial to the key engineering process of solving problems (see below) – as you’ll need to be able to break down a complex problem into the steps it takes to solve it. Find out more.

Lateral thinking: New and creative approaches to challenges can help us succeed where traditional ways of thinking may have let us down. A great example from rail engineering is Japan’s Shinkansen train, which is shaped like a kingfisher’s beak to achieve speeds of 200mph while reducing noise pollution. Find out more.

Problem solving: Engineers are professional problem solvers. The questions they need to answer range from the very big – such as “how do I build a tunnel through this mountain?” – to the more everyday: “how do I halve the amount of sugar in this chocolate bar without compromising on taste?” Find out more.


What subjects should I take?

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Design and technology

Design and technology (D&T) may be useful if you want to become an engineer. While maths and science (see below) provide the theoretical knowledge you need to begin your training as an engineer, D&T will give you experience in undertaking design projects. Find out more.

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Maths is typically an entry requirement of engineering degree courses – and for good reason! For example, engineers routinely use algebra and trigonometry in their work and must be able to confidently manipulate numbers and data every day. Find out more.

Nebula in space


A science subject is required for many engineering degrees – you could pick biology or chemistry but physics makes a great choice. As well as providing you with key concepts useful in engineering, physics encourages you to ask – and answer – the kinds of big questions often demanded of engineers. Find out more.


Uni or apprenticeship?


A university degree is the traditional route for those wanting to pursue a career in civil engineering and other engineering professions, such as electronics engineering. Many degrees are “integrated”, meaning they are four-year courses leading to a Master’s of Engineering, or MEng, qualification – although Bachelor’s degrees (BEng) are available as well.


If you want to pursue a career in software engineering, a course in computer science is a good degree choice – although other degrees, such as maths, can also lead to this career.


The launch of a whole host of engineering apprenticeships means you no longer need to go to university to become an engineer. With an apprenticeship, you will do much of your training on the job, while studying towards qualifications in college or university on block or day release. Many of these programmes are at higher or degree level, meaning they result in higher-education qualifications, even a degree. Fees are paid by your employer so you won’t be landed with student debt. Programmes include civil engineer, electronics engineer, software engineer and many more.


Opportunities for everyone…

Engineering has traditionally been a male-dominated field. The Women’s Engineering Society runs programmes such as MentorSET to help women begin and progress in engineering. Some employers are setting quotas on their apprenticeship schemes to increase the number of women they employ. Research by EngineeringUK showed that the proportion of women in engineering increased from 10.5% to 16.5% between 2010 and 2021. EngineeringUK is conducting a new review and has set out steps to change attitudes at an early age – rather than just at the recruitment stage.


Apprenticeships are opening up engineering to non-graduates. That means if you don’t want to go to university – whether that’s because you want to avoid tuition fee debt or because you don’t fancy another three or four years of pure study – a career in engineering is still open to you. Many courses are at higher or degree level but if you prefer to ease yourself in gently, or don’t have the necessary qualifications (usually two A-levels), you may be able to do an advanced apprenticeship and work your way up.


Apply for an apprenticeship today


JLR Control Technical Support Degree Apprenticeship

Deadline: 29 March 2024

Apply now

JLR Engineering Electrical or Electronic Technical Support Degree Apprenticeship

Deadline: 29 March 2024

Apply now

JLR Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship

Deadline: 29 March 2024

Apply now