Engineers play a critical role in society, helping to design, build, and maintain technologies and products that improve the quality of life. Whether they are helping turn ideas into reality, investing in game-changing technology, or simply making sure things work, the role of an engineer can vary significantly.

There is a wide range of engineering jobs, falling into seven main groups – with each supporting business, and society, in different ways. Here, we look at each of the roles and why they are important.

What are the different types of engineering jobs?

1. Mechanical engineer

Mechanical engineers deal in machinery ensuring that it is set up to be safe to use, considering the environmental conditions and technical requirements. The growth of automation has kept mechanic engineers busy over the past decade, with many industries transferring from manual to automated machinery to free up workers to focus on high-level tasks. As technology continues to develop, for example with the evolution of robotics, mechanical engineers will continue to be in demand.

2. Electrical engineer

As electrical circuits become smaller and more complex, electrical engineers are becoming essential to many businesses. Any device of a system that needs energy to operate is likely to have been developed by an electrical engineer, and once up and running they are also needed to ensure those systems continue to operate as intended. While the role can also encompass work in power solutions or research and development, the demand in the technology sector is growing as it comes to play a greater role in our lives.

3. Maintenance engineer 

Maintenance engineers are responsible for the continuous running of machinery, monitoring devices, organising repairs when needed, and supporting with the manufacture of equipment that are needed for maintenance. Mechanical engineers are needed to ensure businesses run as productively and efficiently as possible, helping avoid costly breakdowns and enhance processes to improve reliability and safety.

4. Chemical engineer

Chemical engineers bring together science and mathematics to create new products for industrial, medical, and household use. They play a critical role in society, from developing new medications to creating new fuel options, helping to improve our quality of live – making them indispensable, and always highly in demand.

5. Reliability engineer

Reliability engineers focus on risk management, keeping assets running smoothly throughout their lifespan, eliminating losses and minimising downtime. By identifying and managing the risks that can affect business operations and asset reliability, they help companies run more efficiently, saving both time and money.

6. Systems engineer

Systems engineers bring together other engineering disciplines to ensure that they work together smoothly, particularly as automation and AI are increasingly used to develop more efficient solutions. Someone needs to check that one hand is speaking to the other and focus on how multidisciplinary projects will come together. We anticipate demand for these roles will continue to grow as technology and engineering continue to integrate.

7. Project engineer

With responsibility for managing projects from beginning to end, project engineers play an important role in keeping projects on track, ensuring that project delivery meets expectations in terms of both time and quality. Project engineers will have an in-depth understanding of a project or process and ensure that it is completed safely and within budget. Project engineers also need to have the ability to translate complex information for different audiences given that stakeholder communication often forms a significant part of the role.

Why are engineers in demand?

There is not any one reason that there is a shortage of engineers in the UK. An outdated image of what roles entail, which does not appeal to younger generation, coupled with a workforce that is starting to age-out of the industry is leaving many companies without the workers they need. At the same time, a focus on academic education means that fewer engineers are being trained.

As a result of the shortage, engineers can command good salaries, as many employers need them to function successfully. Michael Page’s 2024 Salary Guide contains the average salaries for a range of roles in both engineering and manufacturing.

If you are an engineer looking for a new role, or a business looking to hire, our team of engineering recruiters is here to help. Submit your CV or request a call back and the team will get back to you.

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