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The modern engineer used to be described, literally, as an engine operator but today they can be a scientist, computer and technology specialist or mechanic but also an artist, designer or creative thinker.

The www.allaboutcareers.com website gives a fairly crystal clear description of how badly we need engineers.

It's all about solving problems using specialist technical and practical skills. It's all about maths, science, research, prototypes, design, maintenance and production. Every industry and every area of society depends on the precise and efficient work of engineers. These guys provide technological solutions to the problems, issues and ideas that affect every area of our lives.

They design, manufacture and maintain almost everything people and industries use, from computers, spacecraft and boats to corkscrews, buildings and chemical reactors. Technological advances would never happen without engineers. Consequently, the people who work in this sector are massively important in developing the future of our society.

It's 2017, and the perceived nature of engineers is finally changing. Now, it's not only about nuts and bolts and construction and therefore a man thing; but also about environmental problems, medical discoveries and making fabric, all areas which are completely gender neutral. However, whoever you are and whatever field ticks your box you'll still have to get a BEng under your belt before you can focus on what really grabs you.

From computer science to sustainable energies, robotics to aeronautics, and medical technology to intelligent building design - engineering degrees cover a vast career choice, but the over-arching big boys are:

  • Chemical engineers - the environmentally savvy guys who tackle how to produce oil, plastics, paint and food products ( a bit worrying!) using science, maths and chemistry.
  • Civil engineers - the hands-on brigade, everything from sewage systems to opera houses but they also have to consider modern problems such as population growth and climate change.
  • Electrical engineers - work out how to use electrical power to transmit energy for everything from computers to pylons. There are plenty of household names such as George Ohm and Michael Faraday amongst the Electrical engineers. 
  • Mechanical engineers - involved in every machine we use in day-to-day life from the refrigerator to the aircraft, with us since the Industrial Revolution, they design, make and look after all mechanical objects

Once you head off into a specialisation, there are several other pathways that you can follow:

  • Aerospace Engineering - either astronautical, who design and build the flying objects that whizz round outside the earth's atmosphere or aeronautical who construct planes
  • Agricultural Biosystems Engineering- science and technology meets farming and food production
  • Automotive Engineering - road-runners; cars, motorbikes, lorries, buses and dangerous motorised skateboards amongst them
  • Biotechnology Engineering - chemistry and genetics to create medicines and all things
  • Chemical Engineering - turning raw materials into edible items or practical objects
  • Computer Engineering - covers the full package, hard and soft
  • Defence Engineering - forget the politics, this is at the technological cutting edge
  • Design Engineering - technical gurus not fine artists but it's still all about new products
  • Energy Engineering - this is the power stuff, light bulbs to pylons
  • Environmental Engineering - the green one, tackling everything from air pollution to recycling
  • Industrial Engineering - technical, scientific and analytical answers to crack business problems
  • Manufacturing Engineering - says it all; tools and equipment for factories
  • Marine Engineering - all the floatable and submersible objects, cruise liners to dinghies via submarines
  • Nuclear Engineering - includes all things nuclear not just power stations
  • Petroleum Engineering - subsurface stuff; where is it, how much is there and how do we get it out
  • Robotics Engineering - dodgy, could be working on how to make yourself redundant
  • Safety Quality Assurance Engineering - these are the people who ensure it all works
  • Transport Engineering - the infrastructure that gets you from A to B as soon as possible.

Whichever route you follow in this wide world, it makes sense to acquire further qualifications. The first step is a MEng and then there are four categories of registration with most choosing to aim for either incorporated engineer (IEng) or chartered engineer (CEng) status. 

A very clear description of the options can be found on targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/engineering/advice/282495-becoming-a-chartered-or-incorporated-engineer-after-starting-a-graduate-job This site will give you all the stats, including the salary differentials. It concludes: Making career decisions solely on the basis of salary statistics isn't recommended. However, if climbing to a senior position and receiving a salary to match is a key motivation, it's worth keeping these figures in mind.

Maybe it's time to consider that this could be a great qualification and also one that can give you a huge range of potential careers to choose from.

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