Updating Results

What can I do with an engineering degree (apart from being an engineer)?

Tony Hadlow

Careers Commentator

Over the course of earning your engineering degree, you’ll have covered a lot of ground. You may have studied everything from advanced calculus to fluid dynamics, and — most important of all — learned to think in a rigorous, meticulous way.

Now, all this effort has prepared you to work as an engineer for firms like Stantec or AECOM. But what if you’re having second thoughts about following that career path?

What if, after several years of study, you’ve decided that while you value your skill set, you want to apply it differently? 

We’ve got good news — you’re not locked into anything. In fact, the abilities that you’ve developed (like logical thinking, problem-solving, and facility with numbers) offer a ton of value across a range of different careers.

Turns out that an engineering degree means you have options.

So, what exactly are those options? Rather than simply speculate, we surveyed over 1,000 recent engineering graduates to find out what (besides working as engineers) they’re doing in their first jobs out of university.

Top sectors where graduate engineers go to work. Source: Prosple graduate survey.
Not surprisingly, about 50 per cent ended up following typical engineering degree career paths like engineering consulting, mining, and construction. But many others found themselves working in fields like technology, government, management consulting, and even banking — which are hardly the first sectors that might spring to mind.
In other words, a sizable portion of engineering grads doesn’t work as engineers. Read on to learn more about some of the most common alternative options.

The most common alternative careers for engineering graduates

Most common non-engineer job titles for recent engineering grads. Source: Prosple graduate survey.

In addition to identifying the most common sectors where engineering grads end up, we took things a step further. We asked grads to share their job titles, which gives us a clearer picture of what engineering degree holders are actually doing in their new careers.

Based on that data, here are the seven most common non-engineer job titles for recent engineering grads:

  1. Business analyst
  2. Management Consultant
  3. Project manager
  4. Data analyst
  5. Patent examiner
  6. Supply chain graduate
  7. Technology graduate

We’ll do a brief run-through on each. Let’s get started!

1. Business analyst

Business analysts are part of a large field of professionals who help organisations to effectively incorporate data into what they do. As a business analyst, specifically, you’ll use data to give executives the tools to make better, more informed decisions.

Now, according to grads, this often involves things like tracking current business projects and evaluating their effectiveness. Then, you’ll come up with ideas to improve a process or a product, incorporating best practices and insights gleaned from monitoring performance analytics. Typically, you’ll work with stakeholders and executives to develop an idea from start to finish and then put it into practice.

Most business analyst grads earn between $55,000 and $70,000 a year. Typically, you’ll work roughly 40 hours a week, although some grads note that they work closer to 50 or even 60. 

One grad working as a business analyst for Rio Tinto notes that she enjoys the “opportunity for growth and exposure to so many different people and fields of work.” She describes her job as heavy on things like, “valuing and tracking projects and initiatives,” as well as “facilitating meetings and change management through data analysis.” 

2. Management consultant

Consultants help client organisations to solve their business problems. If that seems like a broad description, it is — because consulting is a broad role! 

As a consultant, you’ll typically work for an outside consulting firm like McKinsey or Deloitte. There, you can expect to find yourself focusing on anything from how best to increase a client company’s profit margins to helping them navigate a merger or acquisition. 

Grads in consulting report that they typically work as part of a team. There, engineering skills like data analysis, statistical modelling, and creative thinking will prove incredibly useful as you help your team to generate creative solutions to barriers clients are unable to navigate without outside help.

Be warned, though, that initial salaries for management consultants may prove uninspiring. As a so-called “grey profession”, consulting typically demands that you make some progress moving up the corporate ladder before you’ll see your compensation rise above the graduate average of just under $62,000 a year. You’ll also work long hours, with 50-60 hour weeks common. 

However, tough it out and you’ll be setting yourself up for a much prettier payday down the road (or learning the skills you’ll need to transition into a more lucrative role in another sector).

One engineering grad who works as a consultant for PwC says that he loves the variety involved in his duties. “There is no typical day” on the job, he notes, observing that his responsibilities mean he “can be working on teams in different sectors [and] in different roles.”

3. Project manager

A project manager has a simple job description: take an executive’s idea for a project and put it into action. However, in practice, this role involves juggling a long list of ever-shifting responsibilities and duties that will challenge you considerably.

Fortunately, as an engineering grad, you’re probably better prepared than most to take on those challenges. Your meticulous, orderly thinking and ability to break down a structure or process into its component pieces will be immensely useful here. 

Project managers work in fields as varied as marketing and banking. Whatever your sector, though, your duties will involve figuring out how to do something and then creating a repeatable process so others in your organisation can do it too. Sounds like engineering to us, at least.

Most project managers start at around $65,000 to $70,000 a year. Typically, you can expect to work 40-50 hours a week, and as your career progresses, you’ll also be developing the skills to move up the business operations ladder into more senior operational roles.

For one graduate working as a project manager for the construction services firm TSA Management, variety is the spice of life. She shares that, “day to day, I am working on four projects across three different sectors with multiple contractors, clients and consultants,” and notes that the challenges of her role are lightened by the “amazing” people she gets to work with.

4. Data analyst

Like a business analyst, a data analyst helps organisations work with data to improve their efficiency and results. However, (shocker) a data analyst is mostly focused on the technical side of things: analysing data sets, creating models, and generating reports.

As a data analyst, you’ll make good use of your engineering background. All those hours spent modelling performance for a bridge design or cutting wasteful lines of code from an app will help you to better understand how to approach a giant pile of data and turn it into something others can learn from. 

However, you won’t be strictly a number cruncher, either. Part of your role will be to take data and use it to tell stories — to translate your analysis from something that only a technically-minded professional like an engineer or accountant might grasp into a message fit for a wider audience. 

Most graduate data analysts make between $60,000 to $70,000 a year and work roughly 40 hours a week. However, some outliers may make a bit more (up to $75,000), though this may come at the cost of more time spent on the job.

An engineering grad who works as a data analyst for Services Australia emphasises the importance of good communication in his role. “I manipulate, analyse and present data in a way that is understandable to stakeholders,” he says. He also shares that he finds his engineering background valuable here, as he is able to “apply the skills from my degree to my work.”

5. Patent examiner

A patent examiner works for a government agency in charge of reviewing patent applications. For grads here at home, that usually means IP Australia.

In the course of your duties, you will assess submissions for new patents sent in by businesses, entrepreneurs, and inventors of all stripes. Your job will be to help your team determine whether a proposed technology or product meets the legal standard needed to be given patent protection.

Here, your engineering background will be essential. Much of what you’re dealing with will have been made by engineers — so it will often take an engineer to fully understand whether a particular case is unique enough to qualify as a new development or is simply copying existing technology.

Now, every patent examiner we surveyed works for IP Australia, where the average starting salary is between $70,000 and $75,000 a year. There, as a government employee, you can expect to work a consistent 40-hour-a-week schedule, too.

An engineering grad we surveyed described his work as “examining submitted patents to check if they are new and inventive,” and notes that his day typically consists of “managing my caseload, communicating with my workplace coach, and attending training.” Of IP Australia, he says that he appreciates that his employer is “flexible and understanding of individual needs.”

6. Supply chain graduate

During the pandemic, much of the world found itself thinking about the global supply chain for the first time. But as a supply chain graduate, you’d be charged with doing that as your full-time job.

Not all by yourself, of course. But you would be spending your days helping to ensure the smooth movement of your company's goods — either raw materials needed for production or finished products headed to market. Your role would affect the big picture, too — instead of engineering a single machine or bit of software, you’d be working on a system that could span continents and learning skills essential to the function of the modern economy.

In a graduate supply chain role, you might reasonably look for a starting salary of roughly $70,000 a year (although some grads report receiving less). You’ll also work 40-50 hours a week.

A grad with an engineering degree who works in supply for Nestle told us that his duties currently involve “improving demand forecasting processes.” He especially enjoys the “very experienced and intelligent people” that he works with, and also values the opportunity to “be exposed to a variety of local and overseas operations.”

7. Technology graduate

This is an especially broad job title, we know. But we do feel confident enough to go out on a limb and say that as a technology graduate, you’ll be working to implement or improve upon technological solutions to problems within your organisation.

Now, in practical terms, this could mean anything from working as an IT professional to a cybersecurity role to a job in the banking sector. Whatever your circumstances, though, you’ll need an intimate familiarity with tech coupled with an aptitude for problem-solving. Software engineering grads, in particular, would be natural fits for a technology graduate position.

Based on our survey, the average salary starts at between $60,000 and $70,000. Work weeks are not too taxing, typically demanding no more than 40 hours of your time.

We surveyed a grad who works as a technology graduate in information security for Westpac. He shares that his job is “always evolving,” which means that he is “rarely doing the same tasks day after day.” He adds that generally, his work “will be very hands-on, in building applications and performing proof of concepts within the security group.”

Bonus career paths

If none of the above careers strikes your fancy, here are three more to consider: technical sales, trading, and teaching. While less common than those listed above, our survey data shows us that these are still popular options for engineering grads.

Let’s explore each role further.

Technical sales

Technical sales jobs involve using your engineering knowledge to win future business for your firm. You will need to draw on your expertise and skills to credibly share how your company can help potential clients more effectively than competing businesses in your sector.

A strong engineering background is essential to be credible in technical sales. You’ll need to understand any technical issues and challenges, and advise clients on how your offerings can solve their problems. You will also need to work with people across your company, including those in research, development, design and purchasing, to ensure you have a full understanding of the product or service.

Typically, you can expect to work 40 hours a week. You’ll see a starting paycheck of roughly $60,000 to $65,000 a year, and, as in most sales roles, may also be eligible for commissions. 

One new grad who works in technical sales for Fujitsu told us that he feels his position has given him the opportunity to “accelerate his professional growth within the field.” He also cautions that at such a large company, “some business processes or workflows can be difficult to follow.”


Traders work for investment banks, hedge funds, and other financial institutions that buy into securities or commodities markets. They make, well, trades — buying or selling investment instruments in order to generate a profitable return.

Successful traders need to be able to think systematically. A big piece of trading is understanding how sectors of the vast global economy can influence one another and affect the prices of different investment assets. Your rigorous engineering brain will be useful here, as will your affinity for problem-solving. 

If you have programming skills, you may be in especially high demand. Contemporary trading involves the heavy use of algorithms, which must be constantly updated and tweaked in order to produce market-beating results. Many of the graduate traders in our survey say that coding makes up a big chunk of their work.

Now, even entry-level traders make good money. Salaries often start north of $110,000 — and that figure doesn’t include year-end bonuses. However, this comes at a considerable cost, as many graduate traders we surveyed report working at least 60 hours a week.

Per one engineering grad who joined Tibra Capital as a junior trader, the role entails “working on improving and devolving trading strategies using various programming languages.” He appreciates that his coworkers are all “very motivated and driven,” as well as the flat hierarchy which means he can approach anyone else in the company. 

However, multiple grads note that the long hours and fast pace of the industry can be a major challenge.

(To learn more about how to use your engineering background to become a trader, check out our full interview with Rebecca Johanson, Head of People and Strategy at Tibra Capital. Hint: Brush up on your coding!)


Now, teaching is a much less glamorous career than trading. Your career earnings will be drastically lower and you won’t exactly be moving markets — merely trying to do your little bit of good in the world.

But of course, that little bit of good counts for a great deal. As a teacher, you’ll be helping shape the next generation — and ideally, encouraging them to grow up curious, open-minded, and willing to ask questions.

Engineers make especially good candidates for teachers because Australia faces a significant shortage of educators trained in maths and science. In low-income areas, particularly, there just aren't enough to go around. This means that you could be the difference between your students learning skills crucial to contributing to the modern economy or simply getting passed over. 

As a new teacher, you can expect to earn between $55,000 and $60,000 a year. You’ll typically work 40 hours a week. However, if you — like many of the grads we surveyed — join Teach for Australia, you’ll also be earning a Master of Teaching degree (as part of the program) while teaching students yourself, putting your total weekly commitment closer to 60 hours.

One grad we surveyed describes participating in TFA as “working full time as a teacher and studying full time as well,” and says that the program “involves all of the responsibilities of each.” She says TFA genuinely cares about each participant, but that the high workload can be difficult to manage.

(To learn more about earning your master’s degree while teaching underserved youth, check out our interview with recruiting manager Nick Spinks from TFA.)

Your engineering degree doesn’t mean you’ve got to be an engineer

Hopefully, if you’ve read this far, you understand that you’ve got options. By putting in the time and effort needed to graduate with a degree in engineering, you’ve set yourself up for a multitude of possible career paths.

Talented engineering grads are highly in demand — not just for their ability to use MATLAB, say, but for their strong reasoning, systematic thinking, and passion for tackling complex problems. Those are skills that can take you far beyond traditional engineering fields into disciplines ranging from corporate growth to government or even entrepreneurship.

Show up, work hard, be patient, and one day you may find that you’ll be able to write your own ticket.

Who’s hiring engineering grads?

Don’t waste time browsing through endless job listings. Make things simple with Prosple  and enjoy:

  • Job postings ONLY for fresh grads and students
  • Unlimited free applications
  • Fresh opportunities go live daily
  • Tailored searches that highlight your chosen sector and qualifications

See who’s hiring engineering grads — right now!