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Engineering makes up an exciting range of businesses and industries, including construction, transport, cosmetics, medicine, food, fashion and much more.

Engineers work in all kinds of environments, from offices, laboratories and film studios to outdoors and underground. Engineering today is closely linked with technology, and plays a major role in many technological devices and advances – thanks to engineers you might be reading this on your phone for example.

As an engineer you could be designing colour-matching technology to determine the best makeup for different skin tones or working as part of a team to improve the performance of artificial hip joints. The perks of a job in the food industry may include tasting the chocolate prior to production!

The word engineering usually makes us think of car mechanics or ‘engineering works’ which delay train journeys and cause traffic hold-ups on the roads.

In reality, engineering is a lot wider than this, covering everything from building and transport to cosmetics. Engineers were responsible for designing the Channel Tunnel rail link, and more recently for designing colour-matching technology to determine the best make-up for your skin tone.

Engineers work in all kinds of environments. Yes, some jobs do involve getting covered in oil, and wearing protective clothing, but engineering roles can take place in an office, in laboratories, or outdoors, in the air and underground. They influence every aspect of modern life and it’s likely that today alone you will have already depended on the expertise of one or more engineers. Have you taken the Tube? Maybe you’ve listened to an iPod? Or watched television? See, told you so.

Here are ten examples you might be interested in:

Sound & acoustics engineer
Sound systems are everywhere – in theatres, cinemas, train stations and of course at home. Without the impact of technology and the systems to deliver sound information, much of the entertainment business we know now would not exist. Sound and acoustics engineers are an essential part in delivering the creative vision of, for example, singers and songwriters. Acoustics engineers work with bands and artists to make sure that venues sound as good as possible. In theatre, the set, position of actors and the arrangement of the auditorium are all elements for the sound engineer to consider.

Aeronautical engineer
See the world and get paid to do it! An aeronautical engineer applies scientific and technological principles to research, design, maintain, test and develop the performance of civil and military aircraft, missiles, weapons systems, satellites and space vehicles. Aeronautical engineering offers a wide range of roles. Most engineers specialise in a particular area, such as research, design, testing, manufacture or maintenance. The aerospace industry is well established in the UK, and the steady expansion in air travel means that there are many roles available. But there are also the long hours, varied shifts and being away from home for prolonged periods of time to consider. If you shudder at the thought of a 9-5 job, then perhaps this is something for you!

Food engineer
You are what you eat, as the old saying goes. If you take into account the amount of money we spend on food, you can see that the food and drinks industry is big business. Finding out which flavours work, and which ingredients work well together is more than a matter of simply good cooking. Engineers are involved in the development and design of the processes and equipment that are used for making flavouring, colouring, packaging and distributing food and drink; all to provide the consumer with a fresh, tasty and good-looking product.

Lighting technician
Everyone has a favourite movie, or a theatre performance that sent shivers down your spine. But have you ever given any thought as to how a movie leaps from screenplay to screen? Perhaps you recall a theatre performance where the atmosphere and drama came together to create an unforgettable mood. Lighting technicians create that mood; the skill and expertise required in getting the ambiance just right can be as critical to the performance as the acting.

Bioinformatics engineer
What makes a human different to a banana? Quite a lot you might think, but given that we share in the region of 54 per cent of our DNA with bananas, the answer lies in the structure of our DNA. Mapping the DNA structure of bananas and humans has been made possible by the combination of traditional subjects like maths combined with modern computer technology. Because of this, the modelling and processing developed by computers has allowed us to map out what makes us human and design drugs to treat us when things go wrong.

Environmental engineer
The quality of the land, air and water around us is becoming increasingly important with the onset of climate change. Engineers are at the forefront of preserving our environment and ensuring that modern technology is kind to the environment. Being an environmental engineer might mean that you have a special interest in ecosystems and biology, or other branches of engineering like civil engineering. People who deal in public health matters may also be environmental engineers, helping to ensure that the environment is preserved for people as well as plants and animals.

Venture capitalist
Venture capitalists like to stick their money where their mouth is. Many start-up companies (or ones that need a cash boost to get themselves back on their feet) will look to venture capitalists to provide that investment which, although often high-risk, can provide above average returns. To do this, you will need to become an experienced financial analyst who can identify trends in the market and evaluate where it would be wise to place money – and where it would probably be a no-no. Understanding the potential of emerging technologies and industries – which engineers do – is a key skill, as is being good at maths to work out the best investment.

Marine engineer
If those landlubbers get on your nerves, why not escape to somewhere we know even less about than outer space… the oceans? Marine engineers design and develop the parts of the ship that most of us take for granted – the propulsion, drainage, lighting, waste disposal and air-conditioning systems that turn the raw materials into a functioning, safe and comfortable cruise ship.

Safety engineer
Safety engineers look after us all. They ensure that the buildings we use, the systems we rely on, the transportation we ride and the places we work are safe and not hazardous to our short or long-term health. They interpret risks and foresee problems with existing infrastructure to ensure that modifications and alterations conform to safety standards. If you’re the one who responsibly closes gates after walks in the countryside or tells your younger brother off for dropping those banana skins on the pavement, maybe this one is for you.

Special effects
Brace yourselves: Gollum isn’t real. The CGI effects and crucial technology that created magical moments in film have all been developed by software engineers. They develop the skills and abilities to make dreams (or nightmares) come alive. Without them, Hollywood today would look more like Laurel and Hardy than Middle Earth.

The route to success
Opportunities exist for professional engineers at all levels and engineering is one of the few career areas where there are clear professional progression routes through work-based learning. Put simply, you don’t have to go to university to pursue a career in engineering.

Advanced Apprenticeships (England and Northern Ireland) or Modern Apprenticeships (Scotland and Wales) combine study with employment and provide core skills plus qualifications such as N/SVQ3 and technical certificates. Apprenticeships allow you to earn money while you study and can open doors to a wide variety of engineering jobs.
You will generally need a minimum of five GCSEs (or equivalent), including English, mathematics and science or technology subjects, often at A* to C level due to competition for places.

Study at your local college and qualify for further study or employment.
Popular engineering qualifications include BTECs at levels 2 and 3 or HNC and HND – plus foundation degrees are also available.

The Diploma (England only)
The Diploma is an alternative to the traditional GCSE or A level route. It offers a mix of classroom learning, creative thinking and hands-on experience. It can help you to develop the skills and experience that are valued by employers and which universities and colleges look for in potential students.

The Diploma can be taken alongside a variety of A level subjects. You should check with your school or college regarding timetable options, and the university or college admissions criteria for the required subject combinations.

Engineering at university
Studying engineering at university is just one way of pursuing a career in engineering.
You can pick a specialist course – or try a broad one for a year or two before specialising. A Bachelors degree (BEng) course takes three years while a Masters (MEng) takes four. Some courses also include a year’s placement on the job.

Entry grades vary, as does the course content, but for most engineering courses you’ll need maths and physics A level (or equivalent) – or for chemical engineering, chemistry A level (or equivalent).

If you have a very specific career in mind, check the course content is right before applying. Visit the UCAS website ( or contact the university directly for more information.

For engineering courses at university it is helpful to know if your course is accredited by the Engineering Council. The Engineering Council holds details of academic qualifications that partially or fully satisfy the education requirement for CEng and IEng professional registration.