Whatever your specialism, a range of structured engineering graduate schemes are offered by many of the leading names in the industry, providing you with a chance to learn on the job

According to The Graduate Market in 2023, a report from High Fliers that surveyed major engineering and industrial sector employers featuring in The Times Top 100, graduate recruiters expected to fill 3,555 positions in 2023 - a 34% increase on the previous year.

The research also found that the volume of applications received in 2022/23 was nearly a tenth (9%) higher than the year before, showing how engineering graduates were eager to fill these emerging roles.

What engineering graduate schemes are available?

The primary branches of engineering can be divided into:

  • chemical engineering - biomolecular, materials, process.
  • civil engineering - environmental, structural, transport.
  • electrical engineering - electronic, computer, power, renewable energy.
  • mechanical engineering - aerospace, automotive, energy, industrial, manufacturing.

There are also engineering disciplines that relate to other sectors, such as:

  • agricultural
  • applied
  • biomedical
  • biological
  • building and construction
  • cyber security
  • information
  • nuclear
  • systems
  • transport (railway).

Most graduate vacancies will fall into one of these categories with engineering graduate schemes available at general as well as a more specialised levels.

In addition to opportunities to work with the biggest firms, you'll also find that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) also take on engineering graduates as they seek to prepare their businesses for the future.

Read our overview of the UK's engineering industry.

Which companies run engineering graduate schemes?

Many large UK employers in a variety of sectors run engineering graduate schemes, with streams focusing on the following areas:

  • Accenture - digital engineering and manufacturing, and modern engineering.
  • Airbus - general engineering and the wider business.
  • Amey - civil, electrical and telecoms engineering, plus consulting.
  • Arup - structural and civil engineering, and transport and ground engineering.
  • BAE Systems - systems and software engineering and naval architecture.
  • BBC - research and development (R&D), and software engineering.
  • BP - a wide range of programmes, including chemical and process, construction, electrical, mechanical and project engineering.
  • Dunbia - mechanical engineering, with projects involving electrical, mechanical and automation engineering.
  • EDF Energy - nuclear engineering.
  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) - engineering stream of its Future Leaders Graduate Programme.
  • Jaguar Land Rover - software and electronics engineering, complex integration systems, hardware and mechatronics, plus industrial operations (manufacturing engineering).
  • Mott MacDonald - civil and structural engineering and electrical engineering.
  • Network Rail - civil, electrical, electronic and mechanical engineering.
  • Rolls-Royce - automotive engineering and technology.
  • RWE Generation UK - nuclear engineering.
  • Sellafield Ltd - design engineering, engineering and maintenance.
  • Sky - software engineering.
  • Virgin Atlantic - engineering services and production.

What will I do on an engineering graduate programme?

By joining a more general or management focused engineering scheme, you'll typically get to spend time in a number of departments. This allows you to build up an understanding of the wider business and awareness of how each part functions.

This will still provide you with a platform to put your engineering ability to good use. For example, Network Rail offers a two-year scheme for aspiring mechanical engineers. During four rotational placements you'll gain a broad perspective of the railway and learn about the products, processes and systems that help to make it function.

The Rolls-Royce programme is similar in that you'll work across the lifecycle of the manufacturer's products and services, including its civil aerospace and defence operations. As a graduate, you could be working on the architecture and design side of things, innovation and concept development or testing.

On the other hand, if you land a place on the software engineering graduate scheme at Accenture, you'll be tasked with designing, building, testing and deploying innovative technical solutions for the organisation's clients.

What are the entry requirements?

Many graduate employers will expect a 2:2 degree rather than insist on a 2:1, but for engineering programmes this usually comes with other specific requirements.

For example, your degree subject will typically need to be related to the nature of the stream you're applying for, such as civil, mechanical or electrical engineering.

To gain a place on the Accenture programme you'll need a degree in a related field, such as computer science or software engineering.

For BAE Systems' systems engineer scheme, you'll require a Bachelors or Masters degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering or maths) subject, such as aerospace, automotive, mechanical or structural engineering.

Additionally, you may be expected to hold an accredited degree with an industry body such as the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

For instance, Network Rail seeks candidates with a 2:2 in an Institution of Engineering Technology (IET) accredited degree for its electrical and electronic engineering scheme. They also point out that graduates will need to be flexible when it comes to occasionally travel, as training will be held at various locations.

In terms of skillset, they look for graduates who are:

  • good at time management
  • hardworking
  • great communicators
  • highly motivated
  • logical thinkers
  • problem solvers
  • resourceful.

When and how should I apply?

With the majority of graduate programmes starting in September, you'll find that the application process for the next year's intake starts in the autumn and runs until the end of the year or January.

For example, to join Jaguar Land Rover's two-year engineering programme, you'll apply between September and November for a start date in the September of the following year.

To apply, you'll typically need to submit a CV and cover letter followed by an assessment centre and various stages of interview.

Read more about applying for graduate schemes in general.

How much will I be paid?

Here's what employers are offering to engineering graduates in 2024:

  • Accenture - £33,500 per year, plus a £10,000 bonus (Digital Engineering and Manufacturing Programme), or £27,500, plus a £5,000 bonus (Modern Engineering Graduate Programme) in all locations except London, where the starting salary is £33,500 plus a £10,000 bonus.
  • BAE Systems - £34,000, plus a £2,000 welcome payment and optional 20% salary advance.
  • EDF Energy - £35,000, with annual bonus.
  • Jaguar Land Rover - £31,000, with a £2,000 joining bonus, rising to £38,000 on completion of the graduate programme.
  • Rolls-Royce - £29,000, plus a £2,000 joining bonus.
  • RWE Generation UK - £37,937, plus a £2,000 joining bonus.

Find out more

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

success feedback

Thank you for rating the page