Career options for Mechanical, Chemical and Electronic and Electrical Engineering researchers
Find out about the different career options available if you're undertaking research in Mechanical, Chemical or Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Broadly speaking, your options are the same as those for researchers in other disciplines; see the career options pages for more details. The aim of this page is to look at some career options that may be particularly suitable for researchers in Mechanical Engineering. One important question to ask yourself is the extent to which you want to use your subject in any future career moves. It's entirely your choice - you will have acquired and developed many skills during your time as a Mechanical Engineering researcher which are complementary to the scientific and technical skills you might think define your career choice.
If you'd like to continue using your Engineering and would like some ideas as to how, see details of what previous Bath doctoral graduates in Engineering have gone on to do.
This covers the most obvious choices (academic and commercial engineering jobs) but there are many other options.
You might want to continue in engineering as a whole, but leave lab-based Engineering behind. There are many occupations in which your PhD would be valuable, including technical sales engineer, health and safety specialist, quality assurance, production or operations management, energy conservation, patent attorney, scientific journal editing or technical writing. Teaching (of design & technology, or maths or physics following an extension course) can also be an attractive option.
For more information about what these jobs involve, check out the 'Information sources' section below.
Options outside of your subject
If, having got to this stage, you're not sure that you want to use your Mechanical Engineering any more, don't despair! You have many skills and experiences that are highly valuable to employers - including numerical, IT, project management and business skills - and you can choose from the huge range of graduate jobs on offer, from structured training with large financial services firms to analysing policy for governmental departments. The key is to think of the skills you have and enjoy using and explore occupations that use them to suggest possible alternatives. For information on different types of jobs, explore the occupational profiles on Prospects.ac.uk.
One sector that particularly welcomes engineers is the finance sector. Investment banks, actuarial firms, accountants and professional services organisations value your numerical and problem-solving skills highly. Some may have slightly different recruitment pathways for PhD graduates so it is worthwhile checking on company websites. The role of quantitative analyst, which usually requires a PhD in a quantitative subject, involves using research, programming and analytical skills to design financial models used to trade in financial instruments. Quantitative analysts are employed in financial institutions including banks, hedge funds and investment banks. For more information on this role, view the Finance Train website and the Banking Blog on The Guardian website.
Some key resources to help you research career options with Mechanical Engineering:
- For information on academic career pathways in Electronic and Electrical Engineering, see the career options for researchers page and talk to academics in your department.
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers
- Prospects.ac.uk- see in particular the Options with Mechanical Engineering, Options with Chemical Engineering, and Options with Electrical and Electronic Engineering leaflets.
- The occupational research section of the Careers Service website has further links and resources relating to engineering and other fields of work
- Institution of Mechanical Engineers - website includes advice on learning and development. They also have a volunteering scheme with opportunities in industry liaison and public engagement.
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
- Institution of Chemical Engineers - has a useful careers section with lists of employers in various sectors.
- Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
- Association for Consultancy and Engineering.
- Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators - provides vacancy site for members, and produces a careers guide on getting into the industry.
- Institution of Engineering and Technology - a leading professional society for the engineering and technology community. - Some useful parts of the large careers section can only be accessed by members.
- Royal Academy of Engineering - Britain's national academy for engineering. This learned body awards fellowships and aims to promote excellence in engineering.
- Management Consultancies Association - organisation representing consultancy industry. Includes careers resources and vacancy listings.
Where to find jobs in your field
The engineering sector is huge and we can't provide an exhaustive list of vacancy sources; below are some of the more popular places to look:
- See the vacancies page for academic, research and research-related jobs.
- Careers Service MyFuture database. Look at the vacancies relevant to your subject area and also in the sections 'For PhD students' and 'For Postdocs'. Use 'organisations' function to identify potential employers that you may want to work for or could approach speculatively.
- Energy conservation jobs tend to appear in NewScientist or ENDS Environmental Job Search.
- Health & Safety jobs will appear in Safety and Health Practitioner as well as company websites.
- Individual company websites (use our Find out about employers page to identify them).
- Institution of Engineering and Technology has a good job search facility within its career development pages.
- Production/Operation Management vacancies can be found in the local and national press.
- Quality assurance jobs can be found in the jobs section of the Chartered Quality Institute.
- Specific recruitment agencies (for a complete list visit agencycentral.co.uk).
- Chemistry World carries adverts for jobs in the product development and industrial research fields.
- Opportunities in the oil, gas and petroleum sectors can be found at rigzone.
- Broadcast engineering opportunities are hard to find for trainees; the BBC offers structured training programmes.
- MyElectricalJobs contains a wide variety of jobs in the power, automation and building sectors.
- For opportunities in the electronics industry, try Electronics Weekly.
- The Engineer online has a large range of vacancies.
- Civil Service Jobs advertise public sector engineering vacancies. You may also be interested in the Science and Engineering Stream of the Civil Service Fast Stream.
- Recruitment Agencies - the University of Kent Careers Service has a list of recruitment agencies specialising in the engineering industry. You should also check out AgencyCentral.