Alternative careers for engineering graduates
There are many different jobs you can do with an engineering degree, from patent work to technical writing.
There are a variety of alternative jobs open to graduate engineers, including:
Fire and safety
Due to the growing importance of health and safety issues in the workplace, specific responsibility for this important area has created a range of positions for engineers. Graduates are employed as chief fire officers, plant engineers, engineering consultants, inspectors for the Health and Safety Authority and site engineers. There are opportunities in all major industries.
Occasionally, opportunities arise in the patents office for engineering graduates. This is a public service position and is advertised through the Civil Service. The job essentially centres around obtaining, protecting and granting legal monopolies on new products and processes. The area includes patents for inventions, registered designs and registered trademarks. Aspects of the work include drafting plans in a patent specification, the patent application process, patent strategy, patent examination and patent control.
The Irish government’s commitment to furthering research and development expertise has created more career possibilities in research and it is hoped that this will continue. The implications for many engineering disciplines are exciting, particularly for graduates with electrical, electronic, microelectronic, computer, software, digital media, and communications and biomedical backgrounds.
Technical sales and marketing
Engineering graduates can find employment with manufacturers of specialised engineering products such as medical diagnostic devices, polymers, software for biotechnology, and technical and industrial machinery for production and processing. So many specialised products are sold that there is a need for qualified sales and marketing people who have an ability to thoroughly understand the product/process. Employers include all large and small engineering companies.
Technical writing is an area that has seen some growth. A postgraduate qualification is now available in Ireland. The work entails researching and gathering information on scientific and technical subjects to produce manuals and guides for users within industry and for consumers of products. The key skill is to make complex scientific and technical information clear and understandable to those unfamiliar with it. Potential employers are in engineering and technology-based industries, and fluency in another language opens up further possibilities.
An engineering qualification is an excellent foundation for progression into many non-engineering careers. You will have developed a broad range of transferable skills such as problem-solving, analytical thinking, team-working and project management. These are highly sought after in areas such as business, finance, law, management consulting and supply-chain management. You might also consider roles in teaching or third-world development. Further study may be required to pursue careers in some of these areas, for example an MBA, professional accounting or law exams, or a teaching qualification.