Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.
We asked Peter LaComber from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:
Skills - organisation and attention to detail
Interests - all things technical
Education - basic engineering foundation course (degree or similar)
What are your interests?
Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and are drawn to commerce, trade and making deals. Some pursue sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or in management roles in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
There are many career opportunities available for mechanical engineering graduates:
Industry: innovating, creating and testing designs for new technologies across many industries. There are many opportunities available in the medical devices, healthcare and pharmaceuticals sectors in Ireland with many world class companies locating here.
Government: product testing and establishing safety standards.
Consultancy: carrying out studies about possible changes or improvements and estimating costs of products for clients.
Research Centres: carrying out research in the use of different types of fuel and energy, materials handling, heating and cooling processes, the storage and pumping of liquids and gases and environmental controls.
Industrial manufacturing and industry is the biggest employment area for engineering graduates. In a manufacturing environment, engineers are responsible for the safe and efficient planning, management and maintenance of production methods and processes, often working as part of a multidisciplinary team.
The most common backgrounds are mechanical and electrical/electronic engineering, but there is huge overlap and mobility between disciplines. There are also some primary degrees that specialise in manufacturing engineering.
The engineering sector itself is made up of a wide range of companies providing a diverse range of products and services. The three main categories are:
Process engineering and instrumentation
What types of employment contracts are there?
There has been an increase in jobs focused on high-tech, specialist engineering roles with many multinational companies locating their R&D development in Ireland. This translates into good quality permanent and contract employment opportunities available in both indigenous and multinational companies.
This changing focus to R&D has created a trend in Ireland for low-skilled production jobs to move to Eastern Europe and the Far East.
What are the typical earnings of these occupations?
The median starting salary for graduates in the engineering sector is approximately €32,000.
How do you get a job in this sector?
Sector companies typically recruit directly via the company website - it is always worth visiting their careers area.
Larger engineering companies tend to approach academic institutions directly, through specific engineering departments or college career services, as well as attending recruitment fairs. You should make a point of attending recruitment fairs if one is held on your campus, and make a note of crucial milkround visits from organisations that interest you.
Some companies will recruit by advertising in National Newspapers or with sector representative bodies.
A placement or work experience is not a requirement to get a graduate job in engineering, but it can help. Companies may specify for example, that applicants should have a minimum of one year’s relevant experience in a manufacturing environment or ‘consideration will be given to applicants with relevant industrial placements’.
News from Smart Futures
Explore STEM careers that let you do what you love