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Engineering salaries: An overview

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Thinking about becoming an engineer? Bright Network takes a look at engineering salaries and how much you might expect to earn working in the sector.

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Engineering salaries

The UK is always trying to assert the place of its home-grown industries in the global market. Engineers are in high demand, and wages are climbing to incentivise more bright sparks on British soil. 

There’s a wealth of careers open to engineering graduates and trainees, encompassing practically every form of societal ingenuity – think military defence, automotive production, biochemical plants, IT software and telecommunications. The list is never-ending and represents a viable arena for any technical skillset to flourish.

How earnings differ in the sector

As of 2021, the average starting salary for graduates sits at £28,000. That’s a big deal, considering how many other high-skilled jobs have become economically stagnant. 

What’s even better is the fast-track increase in earning potential: getting chartered, and gaining a couple of years’ experience, could see your wages jump by a couple of thousand pounds in just two or three years.

Chartered engineers are incredibly well paid, with average salaries ranging between £57,000 and £77,000 per annum – even higher in industries like aerospace. 

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Why do engineering salaries differ so much?

Keep in mind, however, that these starting figures are taken from the sector as a whole. Disparities are to be expected since there are so many routes to take and excel in. 

Wages can be influenced, for example, by whether you’re working for a private or public organisation, and whether you have chartered status. Grad schemes compete wildly to snare the best of the engineering bunch, so it’s worth checking what a company is offering compared to its closest rival. 

Graduates, as we’ve mentioned, are in relatively short supply, so you can afford to be a bit scrupulous in your search. Think carefully about what an employer can give you in terms of a progressive pay scale and leadership opportunities.

Five factors affecting an engineer’s pay

  • Travel: Engineers often get to travel the world, completing stints in various countries for months or years at a time. As such, these jobs tend to be compensated with higher salaries. 
  • Size: It might be far more convenient for you to jump on board with a local, small-scale firm, or trying to make it as an independent contractor. The big players, however, have lots more cash in the bank, and will probably tempt you with a much fatter paycheque.
  • Variety: Being spoilt for choice with a variety of roles means you’ll encounter a disarming array of salaries, ranging across dozens of sciences and research fields. 
  • Time: Since engineers have to deal with a lot of pressure – there could be lives at risk if standards slip – it’s no surprise that proving yourself over several years will entail sufficient rewards. The ceiling for engineering salaries exists to be broken, so there are few limitations to pushing onwards up the career ladder. 
  • Qualifications: Degrees, apprenticeships, and diplomas can all influence your pay grade. Again, they vary depending on the area you’re focusing on, but at least you know that higher education, in this instance, is the surest path to a high-earning job. 

The most attractive engineering graduate employers

These companies are the crème de la crème of fresh graduate opportunities. All of them are based in the UK, or have a substantial presence here:

Tying it all together

It’s rare to find a job that keeps you engaged with what you love, whilst giving you the resources to live life to the full. Engineering really can transform your sense of self-worth; it’s one of the most financially attractive sectors for any graduate to commit to, and it’ll be a journey that’ll pave the way for a prosperous future.

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