Changing careers to engineering: is it the right move for you?

In the UK, it’s estimated that there will be a shortfall of almost 2 million engineering jobs by 2025.

That’s great news if you’re one of the many people who want a career change and think that engineering might be the perfect fit for you.

But how do you actually change your career to engineering?

  • Consideration – first of all, you need to think carefully about how and why you’re making this change.

  • Action – only after this should you start doing all the preparation needed before you can apply for your first engineering job.

Consideration – Is a career change right for you?

Before you get started, there are some important questions to ask yourself. Making any career change is a lot of hard work. The results can definitely be worth it! But you need to be sure of what you want going in. Ask yourself:

1) Why am I unhappy at my current job?

Listing the things that make you want to leave your current job – or the things you want out of your new one – is a good way to galvanise you into acting. It’s the motivation you need to really get started.

2) Am I ready to go back to a lower “rung” on the ladder?

You should bear in mind that you will almost certainly be starting your new career at a more entry-level position compared with the one you currently hold.

This won’t be a problem for most people. But you should remember that this is often accompanied by a cut in salary, so you do need to consider your finances – especially if you have a mortgage or family commitments.

3) Is engineering right for me?

You won’t necessarily need work experience to apply for an engineering course or trainee-level engineering positions. But getting some kind of industry experience is going to be worthwhile, even if it is only to confirm that you are definitely interested in what your future role entails.

It’s not an emergency if you can’t find any work experience. But it will stand you in good stead.

Action – How to get ready to change career to engineering

1) Retraining and up-skilling

There’s a high chance that you will have some soft skills and maybe even a few hard technical skills that will be transferable between your old industry and your new engineering job.

But there will almost certainly also be some areas where you need to consider getting additional training, probably through one of the following methods:

  • Studying part-time – is a popular solution for people who are retraining to entering a new industry. Funding for part-time STEM courses is available from Student Finance England.

  • Degree apprenticeship – some employers offering civil engineering jobs and the like do have engineering apprenticeships available. This can be a good choice, as it means you’re working in the field you want to be in while studying.

  • University courses – can be challenging to get into if you haven’t been studying academically recently. However, there are many Open University and Access to Higher Education courses out there that can fit the bill. Always be sure to check you meet the course requirements before you sign up.

  • Degree conversion – it is possible in some cases to convert your degree in a closely linked field to an MSc in some kind of engineering. This can be an option if you’re in the market for structural engineer jobs and have a mathematics degree, for instance.

  • On-the-job training – some employers carrying out engineering recruitment will place a high value on a combination of the experience you have in other industries and the perceived increased stability your age might be thought to offer if you are older than other newly qualified candidates.

2) Edit your CV

Now it’s time to edit your CV so that the experience you have that is most applicable to your new career in engineering is highlighted. Focus on:

  • Transferable skills like teamwork and communication

  • Accomplishments that are relevant in all industries

3) Reach out to recruiters and your network

The next step is to reach out to people who might know about job openings. Of course, your go-to engineering recruitment company should be your first port of call.

But you also already have a network of friends, colleagues, former colleagues and other people you know. Reach out to them. See if they have any useful links to the engineering industry or any jobs that might not be being widely advertised.

4) If at first you don’t succeed

Changing career can be a challenge. Landing your first engineering job can take longer than it might for someone fresh from university.

Bear this in mind and don’t panic if it takes time. Because with a little planning, patience and perseverance, a career change to engineering might be just what you need to transform your life for the better.

Are you currently re-training for an engineering career change?

Ernest Gordon is a specialist engineering recruitment agency. Every day, we help people up and down the UK find their dream position.

Let’s see if we can help you get that all-important first foot in the door. Contact us for a friendly chat today.