Your career in engineering

Last updated: 22 Jun 2023, 13:23

An engineer working

Engineers are consistently in demand across a wide range of employment sectors, with their unique skillsets being attractive to many employers operating in different sectors. gradireland’s most recent Graduate Salary and Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey shows that employers in this sector recruit an average of 13 graduates each year. Engineering roles themselves command an average starting salary €36,666, so there are plenty of opportunities out there for graduates to make a solid start to an exciting, and lucrative, engineering career. According to Engineers Ireland, in a survey of more than 3000 engineers, employers and sector stakeholders, salaries have increased in all engineering disciplines and 84% of engineers agree there are plenty of job opportunities in Ireland.

For employers, skills such as problem solving, communication, problem solving and leadership are amongst those most commonly lacking in graduate recruits. These are skills common to engineering graduates. There are an enormous amount of opportunities out there for engineering graduates, but you’ll need to develop the skillsets that employers need.

Gain experience

Depending on what type of engineering degree you have, whether it be electronic, electrical, mechanical, civil or a general engineering degree, there are a range of different roles available once you graduate. Your degree type will give you an idea of what area you want to work in, but you’ll also have to think about the skills and qualities you possess. Activities like work placement, internships and your progression through your course will help with this, as it will give you a sense of where your skills fit in in the working world. It’s important to explore all your options and to research the different areas that are available to you. Once you have done that, you’ll be better able to tailor skills and experience to the area of interest. Talk to your careers service and network with others already working in the engineering sector; they will be able to help.

The industry in Ireland

The engineering sector in Ireland has in the region of 40,000 engineers, and at the time of the most recent census 95% of them were in employment. In last year’s Engineers Ireland survey, up to 25% of Junior Engineers said that their career had stalled due to Covid-19, with a similar percentage in receipt of the wage subsidy at some point. This concern has almost completely dissipated with only 11% indicating concern.

The report also finds that engineers are critical to combating climate change, with 72% of the public citing engineers as a critical element in protecting the environment. Engineers Ireland declared a Climate and Biodiversity Emergency in 2020 and a subsequent plan for sustainability was published in March 2022, focusing on the four pillars of sustainability, national recovery, standards and a digital future.

Think international

2022 gradireland research reveals that 16% of Irish engineering graduates planned to look for their first job abroad. A degree in engineering travels well because technical skills have a universal language. Engineers Ireland is a signatory to both the Washington Accord and the Sydney Accord, which means accredited engineering programmes are recognised internationally by other signatories. These include Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the USA and the UK. Even if you choose to stay in Ireland, a second language is always an advantage as there are many opportunities for travel as an engineer.

Career progression

According to 2022 gradireland research, 34% of engineering graduates plan to pursue postgraduate study in order to enhance their employment prospects. Gaining postgraduate and professional qualifications after your undergrad degree is often something employers will expect and require from their graduate employees in this sector. Having a postgraduate degree can mean more pay, increased responsibility and better promotion and career development opportunities. Almost half of employers surveyed by Engineers Ireland believe that there was an inadequate supply of engineers entering the sector in the medium term. When asked what kinds of skills they considered important, employers responded that the ‘soft skills’, such as communication, are just as important as – if not more important than – the core technical competences.

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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