From the offset of their career, engineers will pay great mind to opportunities for progression within the engineering field, many taking the time to research career paths ahead of starting their engineering journey. Researching options for future roles helps inform the qualifications an engineer may wish to gain or niches they may wish to specialise in.

However, the breadth of the engineering industry and the wide variety of paths accessible to engineers can make mapping out your career path challenging. For this reason, it is important to become familiar with the progression available within your chosen company – the career trajectory within one workplace or engineering sub-industry may vary vastly from that in the next.

This blog from BMR Solutions will offer insight into common engineering career path progression, with reference to particular roles as well as tips on gaining experience and securing more senior roles.

The Engineering Career Path 

The body of information available online signposts the range of professional paths to be potentially followed by an engineer. Many infographics place central emphasis on two particular tracks – these being:

1.) individual contribution tracks, or

2.) leadership tracks which place greater emphasis on team-level peacefulness.

In this outline from BMR Solutions, a range of roles, their responsibilities and methods of progression between them will be noted. For more information about particular engineering roles and requirements, visit our blog. Existing articles include ‘How to Become a Team Leader’ and our Job Spotlight series which features articles such as Job Spotlight – Verification Engineer.

The educational requirements for securing engineering roles can be notoriously rigid. Many businesses require a bachelor’s degree as a minimum education marker, while other businesses welcome apprentices without such qualifications. In many cases, apprenticeships offer opportunities to candidates who may not possess the traditionally required academic qualifications, but do demonstrate high degrees of practical mindedness and creativity.

Apprentice Engineer or Intern

Many engineers start off as apprentices or interns. Internships are especially popular amongst students working towards engineering degrees. The work experience and connections gained through internships can make securing an intern role highly competitive for soon-to-be graduates. As employers continue to stress the value of experience in addition to academics, apprenticeships and intern opportunities offer engineers work experience that boosts their applications for graduate or junior engineering roles. In addition, many businesses hosting internships or work experience opportunities go on to offer those who complete placements, permanent positions. Businesses that offer graduate internships include BAE Systems, EDF Energy and Rolls Royce.

Junior Engineer

The responsibilities allocated to a junior engineer could mirror those given to an entry level or graduate engineer, but this will vary from one business to the next.  Responsibilities may include completing smaller, specific tasks with guidance from more senior engineers. Involvement in projects will be proportional to the role, with junior engineers playing smaller roles in larger projects. At this stage, an employee should be in active pursuit of new information and guidance from superiors in order to broaden professional knowledge while demonstrating competence and responsiveness to feedback within basic tasks.


Engineers are highly skilled workers that have gained experience and feedback during the preceding roles and experience opportunities. This team member will begin to take on more independent projects, offering independent reviews of others’ work and offering guidance to junior and entry level employees.

Senior Engineer

Senior Engineering roles are often only accessible following a number of years’ experience within preceding engineering roles. The number of years may vary from one business to the next, so a candidate may wish to enquire within their company. A senior engineer will consistently produce highly skilled work and demonstrate a high level of expertise within their area. This role will also see its occupant make large individual contributions to projects of all sizes, including long term projects, offering leadership and guidance to those below. Senior engineers are also likely to make contributions to recruitment and interview processes.

At this point, many models split, allowing engineers to take individual or team-based tracks.

Principal Engineer (Individual Contribution Track)

A Principal Engineer leads and works within development and design to provide companywide impact. In addition, Principal Software Engineers will often contribute to projects that extend beyond their host business, they will also play a role in informing strategic choices. This role will also play a central role in the acquisition of new talent.

Director of Engineering (Team Contribution Track)

Directors of Engineering assume a role that is both hands on for their own projects but also that of the rest of a team. A director will work closely with all other employees, overseeing quality of work and aiding the implementation of effective strategy as well as the recruitment of highly skilled candidates.

Joining a Professional Body/Attaining an Industry Qualification

In addition to gaining experience and completing projects to accumulate a portfolio, gaining a professional qualification or joining a professional body is considered to be an effective move towards progressing through the engineering ranks.

Joining a professional body isn’t always required to land your first engineering role, though. A candidate may, however, be encouraged to obtain an industry qualification in order to make professional progress. Joining a professional body is a valuable method of networking within your field and gaining access to industry experts specific to your sub field of engineering. It is also notable that joining a professional body is a requirement should an individual wish to become a chartered or incorporated engineer. The appropriate professional body for a particular engineer will depend on the engineering area in which they specialise, options include – Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) .

Learn More with BMR Solutions 

The engineering profession spans many sub-industries, businesses and unique roles. Without expert guidance, navigating the body of information available online can be overwhelming. For information and advice on securing a role that’s right for you, contact our team. With years of industry experience and a well-established client base, BMR Solutions are experts in finding perfect candidates for exciting job roles within the engineering and manufacturing field.