Engineering is an excellent field in which to specialise if you enjoy delivering solutions to real-world problems and are good with numbers. It's a very popular option amongst graduates all over the world, and combines the use of mathematical, scientific, and practical principles to invent, improve, maintain, and understand manmade processes like machines, structures, tools, and components. There are a number of different types of Engineering, but the different degrees do have a few similarities. Before we look into different types, let's start with a few similarities.
Completing an Engineering degree means you'll have transferable skills. No matter what type of Engineering you study your degree will always be based on solving complex problems. You will learn how to find solutions and your problem-solving skills will be sought after in different industries within the Engineering and Manufacturing sector, and you’ll be able to design innovative products and tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. There is a high demand for Engineers: a survey of 7.5 million professionals showed that Engineering jobs are the third largest job family worldwide. According to our MastersAvenue Global Degree and Career Survey, in 2018 circa 8% of all jobs worldwide were Engineering jobs. You'll also receive an attractive compensation – no matter if you are a recent Engineering graduate or an experienced Engineer, your salary is likely to always be significantly higher than the average salary of other qualifications. Most types of Engineering degrees will provide the chance to earn more than $100k per year once the Engineer has a few years of work experience.
Depending on how you count, there are as many as 200 subtypes of Engineering, which allows for many ways for students to specalise when studying their Engineering degree. Engineering really is a broad field of study, but it can be grouped into 5 main and most popular types of Engineering. How do you choose which type of Engineering is the right one for you?
Below we’ve provided a quick introduction to five of the most popular different branches of the field. First, we have the “Big Four”: Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering. We then finish off with one more popular choice, Computer Engineering.
Civil Engineers use concrete, stone, steel, and bricks, to construct and maintain public and private infrastructure such as roads, bridges, sewers, and buildings. It is a field of Engineering that concerns itself with the overall interface of human created structures with the greater world. Thus, Civil Engineers also work with natural processes, like the movement of air, water, and soil, known as hydraulics and geotechnics. As environmental issues become more prominent, disciplines like Earth Systems engineering, a branch of Civil Engineering, are becoming ever more important. Sub disciplines of Civil Engineering also include Coastal, Earthquake, and Forensic Engineering that are concerned with managing coastal areas, designing structures strong enough to withstand intense earthquake exposure, and investigating structures or products that fail or do not operate as intended, causing injury or damage.
Civil Engineering is particularly relevant to the Construction sector, where you’ll be involved in planning and execution, the transportation of materials, and site development. Students take on a combination of engineering science and design work courses in order to prepare for the delivery of projects on time, within budget, and of the desired quality. There is also considerable demand for Civil Engineers in the utilities, including water, gas and power generation. So if you’d like to make a career out of modelling complex systems and buildings things that can withstand them, Civil Engineering is the way to go!
To learn more about the career prospects for graduates in civil engineering check out the MastersAvenue’s Global Degree and Career Survey (GDCS) ©.
Two closely related branches of Engineering study the application of electricity. Electrical Engineers are concerned with the generation and supply of electricity, while Electronic Engineers deal with circuitry, such as that used in domestic appliances or computers. Renewable Energy and Robotics, two exciting and growing fields, fall under these branches of Engineering.
Electronics Engineers are widely employed in IT and telecoms, and deal with the implementation of algorithms, principles, and applications within control systems, signal processing, and electric power control. Signal processing, telecommunications engineering, and control engineering are a few subfields under Electronic Engineering and deal with the analysis and manipulation of signals, the transmission of information across channels, and the use of feedback in designing various control systems. There are many more subfields within the field of Electronics Engineering, and though there are Electronics Engineers who focus exclusively on one, many others focus on a combination of these subfields.
Naturally, Electrical Engineers find employment within the power industry. This field deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism, and became a very important profession after the commercialisation of the telephone and electric power distribution and use. Subfields include Digital Computers, Computer Engineering, Robotics, and Radio-frequency Engineering. If you get a buzz out of high-tech solutions, then consider Electrical Engineering!
To learn more about the career prospects for graduates in electrical engineering check out the MastersAvenue’s Global Degree and Career Survey (GDCS) ©.
Mechanical Engineering is all about machines – it applies engineering, physics, and materials science in order to design, analyse, manufacture, and maintain mechanical systems. Although it is the oldest branch of Engineering, it is also so broad that it touches upon almost every other branch and relates to particular fields such as rocketry, aeronautics, robotics, and biomechanics, fields that are truly groundbreaking!
Studying a Mechanical Engineering degree requires a focus on core areas including mechanics, dynamics, thermodynamics, materials science, structural analysis, and electricity. Since this is the branch of Engineering involving the design, production, and operation of machinery, students need to understand these core areas in order to work on anything from industrial equipment and large manufacturing plants, to heating and cooling systems in buildings. You’ll be responsible for analysing problems to see how mechanical and thermal devices might help to solve the problem, designing or redesigning these devices using analysis and computer-aided design, developing and testing prototypes of these devices, analysing test results and changing the design as required, and overseeing the manufacturing process for devices.
Mechanical Engineering opens up a huge range of different careers. Manufacturing is a particularly common choice, with Mechanical Engineers working in the production of aerospace products, weapons, cars, ships, domestic appliances, hydraulics, and industrial automation devices. Mechanical Engineers also work on such diverse fields as space travel in exciting organisations like NASA or SpaceX, nanotechnology, and the manufacture of medical implants. If you’d like to tinker with innovative and fascinating devices, then mechanical engineering is the field for you!
To learn more about the career prospects for graduates in mechanical engineering check out the MastersAvenue’s Global Degree and Career Survey (GDCS) ©.
At the opposite end of the scale from Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering combines Engineering principles with know-how from Chemistry, Physics, and Biology to produce new, useful materials on a commercial scale. Chemical engineers generally work in laboratories, using meticulous experiments and mathematical models to not only develop new substances, but to determine how to produce them as safely, cheaply and efficiently as possible.
Students who choose a Chemical Engineering degree must learn and understand several key principles, including Chemical Reaction Engineering, Plant Design and Construction, Process Design and Analysis, and Transport Phenomena. Since this type of Engineering involves managing plant process and condition to ensure optimal plant operation, Chemical Engineers must be able to construct models for reactor analysis using specific laboratory data and physical parameters. Engineers must also be able to design and construct pilot plants, new plants, or plant modifications according to a number of factors like funding, government regulations, and safety standards. Process design requires for the Chemical Engineer to be able to read, understand, and implement the details listed in a Process Flow Diagram, which is then used to control the capacity and reliability of a new or newly modified plant. The modelling and analysis of transport phenomena is essential for industrial applications within Chemical Engineering; it involves the safe and efficient transport of chemical substances.
Students who have a degree in Chemical Engineering are highly sought-after by a number of specialised, high-tech industries, such as microfabrication, biomolecule production, and oil refining. If you’ve got a background in Biology or Chemistry, but you’re interested in figuring out commercial applications for those disciplines, then consider becoming a Chemical Engineer!
To learn more about the career prospects for graduates in chemical engineering check out the MastersAvenue’s Global Degree and Career Survey (GDCS) ©.
Computer and Software Engineers deal with the design, building and programming of computers, developing both computer hardware and software. A subfield of Electronics, the importance and complexity of computers is such that these fields are frequently the subjects of dedicated master’s degrees. Computer Engineering operates at a similar scale to Chemical Engineering, but with many aspects of Electrical Engineering, while Software Engineers combine mathematical skill with a gift for languages.
The two main specialties under Computer Engineering are Computer Hardware and Computer Software Engineering. In developing hardware, Computer Engineers research, develop, design and test various computer equipment, working in research laboratories and high-tech manufacturing firms. Software Engineers construct and maintain computer programs, set up networks like intranets for companies, and also design or code new applications for a business or individual.
Ever thought of becoming a Computer or Software Engineer? If you’re great at logic puzzles, and love playing with computers, then maybe you should!
To learn more about the career prospects for graduates in computer engineering check out the MastersAvenue’s Global Degree and Career Survey (GDCS) ©.
Once you’ve completed your Engineering degree, you’ll be able to enter into a professional field that helps to shape the world around us for the better, focusing on analysing and solving real-world problems. You may be responsible for the design and creation of the next new buildings we enter or sturdy bridges pedestrians walk across, or create new materials for the manufacture of clothing or design and develop biomedical devices to save lives.
Depending on the type of Engineering degree you’ve studied, there may be jobs directly related to your specialisation, but there are also many options for jobs where your degree would be useful. If you’ve studied Mechanical Engineering, for example, you may work as an Aerospace, Automotive, or Maintenance Engineer, but your degree could also be useful in working as a Mining Engineer, a Patent Attorney, or a Production Manager. Current trends and innovations in various sectors bring along challenges to overcome. A student who has finished their degree in Computer Engineering could, for example, begin their career as a Digital Security Engineer, protecting people and business from criminal and terrorist attack in the cyber world. And if you’re interested in designing cities for the future and overcoming the challenges of the world’s booming urban population, you may find work as an Urban Design Engineer.
Since many programs often offer a year working in the industry, you’ll be able to take the opportunity of working during your studies and providing a proof of work experience once you graduate. This is a valuable thing to list on your CV when you begin applying for engineering jobs, as employers will see you’ve developed your skills and have commercial awareness, as well as hands-on experience in the type of Engineering you’ve chosen to study. A good insight into the engineering environment with a large engineering employer as a student is essential; it will allow you to shadow different engineers and help you decide which area it is you’re most interested in!
One of the most underrated 'tools' to secure an invite for your engineering job interview is the motivational letter. Together with the CV it is the first thing that a recruiter will see from you. Whilst it is hard to be creative with the CV, it is much easier with the cover letter. Here you can provide extra information to the recruiter and emphasise your strenghts, whilst also explain possible weaknesses. Writting the perfect cover letter can be tricky, but thankfully we have developed a few easy to use templates for you which you could use to apply for an internship or for your first full time job.
There is such a range of industries for graduates with an Engineering degree – you could enter the automotive, defence, energy, pharmaceuticals, or rail industries. No matter which career you begin after your studies, you’ll have to be prepared for constant problem solving, teamwork, communication and leadership. You’ll come across problems that you don’t know the answer to straight away and that will require for you to work with a range of Engineers from a variety of disciplines and non-technical colleagues in order to get the job done. Many employers also search for people who seek to motivate and support others. These are the Engineers who can bring innovative ideas and economic solutions to the table and who are motivated to achieve an end result that efficiently addresses the problem! Many people have used the Covid lockdown and upskilled to become an engineer. Maybe this is something for you too?