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How to prepare for a career in the engineering sector

Paystream News

Kerry Hull

Friday 7th Nov, 2014

Have you ever considered embarking on a career in the UK's engineering sector?

Figures show that over the next few years, an additional 1.86 million vacancies will be created in the industry, requiring highly-skilled individuals to fill them.

In addition, many of the country's current engineers are ageing and nearing retirement, meaning replacements are needed to make sure that the industry can continue to work at the level it is currently at, or even take it to a level that is even better.

But what exactly does working in the field of engineering require?

Here, we're going to look at how you can decide whether or not a career in engineering is for you.

Is engineering for you?

In an article published during September 2014, the Engineer spoke to a range of experts in recruitment as well as the engineering industry to gather advice for those considering working in the sector.

Engineering roles can cover anything from car manufacturing to chemistry jobs, so do your research, see what's out there and if you possess the qualities required for the position.

Fran Shaw, an engineering placement manager at Huddersfield University, advised: "Read through the job descriptions and get a feel for how research and development engineers are different from material engineers, for example."

Above all, it is arguably most important to make sure you've got adequate experience and coveted, transferrable skills, as this is what many employers value first and foremost.

Therefore, a degree in the subject isn't always essential and embarking on an apprenticeship may have greater benefits, as this is an opportunity to learn on the job, while receiving a wage.

Ms Shaw added: "Placements are a great opportunity to try something's only by doing and seeing and talking to engineers you'll know what they do."

However, if you are studying for a degree in the subject, attending graduate recruitment fairs would be a good way to network, make contacts and put yourself out there.

UK human resources director at international engineering firm Eaton Nikki Bassett commented: "I have a long memory - you remember people who stand out."

Maria Zaretskaya, who is on Eaton's graduate training scheme, added: "I'd definitely recommend careers fairs because you can meet so many companies you've not heard about before."

How can PayStream help?

If you decide that working in engineering is what you want to do, you need to figure out exactly how you want to be positioned.

For instance, you could operate on a contract basis, or you may prefer to work under the scope of a bigger company.

Mark Newland of recruiter STEM Graduates explained to the Engineer: "It's important to ascertain if you'll reach your potential as a big fish in a small pond or vice versa.

"Some people thrive in a group project, but don't enjoy autonomy. They might work better in a larger company.

"Others totally embrace SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). They are thrown in at the deep end and thrive on the ad hoc nature of training."

Head of the engineering futures team at Coventry University Mike Grey added: "A lot of people aren't aware of the SMEs and supply chain companies doing very interesting research and development who you may never have heard of, but are highly respected within the industry."

However, if you would prefer to work for yourself, becoming the director of your own limited company may be a more suitable option and is something that we at PayStream can help with.

Working through a limited company requires a certain degree of paperwork to be completed to enable it to remain compliant, but when you're initially starting out, you may not have the time and resources to deal with this. Therefore, PayStream's limited company services can support you on your journey, providing help and advice to make sure your paperwork is complete and compliant.

Becoming an umbrella contractor with us is another option. In essence you become an employee of the umbrella company which means that we deduct all the relevant tax and national insurance contributions before paying you your wage, allowing you to stay out of trouble with HMRC.


There are countless options if you want to embark on a career in the engineering industry. From apprenticeships through to working for an SME or on a contract basis, as long as you have the right skills and a strong work ethic, there's no reason why you shouldn't succeed.

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