Table of Contents
- What is engineering and why is it popular?
- Best engineering branches for the future
- Salaries for different engineering branches
- Eligibility criteria for engineering courses
- Top universities to study engineering
- What skills do you need to study engineering?
- Frequently asked questions
- Are you ready to start your engineering journey?
Engineering is a popular field, with a lot of opportunities and career paths for professionals.
While there are several in-demand engineering roles and branches, choosing one can feel a bit daunting.
In this article, we answer the question, ‘Which engineering branch is best for your future?’ to make your decision-making process a little easier.
We’ll also discuss eligibility criteria, top institutions to study engineering, required skills, and some frequently asked questions.
What is engineering and why is it popular?
Engineering is a diverse field comprising various branches, each specialising in different aspects of technology and innovation.
The work of engineering professionals shapes our modern world, impacting nearly every aspect of everyday life. This includes communication, transportation, career and health.
As a result, engineering tends to provide significantly more career options than many other related fields.
“A significant proportion of those working in engineering occupations do so outside of engineering industries, which suggests that engineering skills are widely required and used beyond the sector itself.” - Engineering UK’s 2018 report
Best engineering branches for the future
If you are wondering which engineering branch is best for your future, the following are the options to consider:
Artificial intelligence and machine learning engineering
This is an emerging branch of engineering that has gained popularity over the past few years.
Professionals in this branch work with algorithms and data to build machines that can reason like humans. They equip these machines with capabilities like understanding different languages and recognising human voices.
Their job typically involves extensively researching and designing AI systems that can run without human input. This is one of the highest-paid roles, with an attractive pay, according to Indeed.
You probably think of petrol fuel when you hear petroleum engineering. And you’re not wrong, except that these professionals deal with the raw material rather than the finished product.
They work on designing and implementing strategies that make the process of extracting oil and gas from underground more efficient, cost-effective, and profitable.
Their work involves working on alternative drilling methods, building and recommending innovative designs for drilling equipment and implementing approved drilling plans.
This branch of engineering is as complex as it sounds. It’s using technology to create innovative solutions, machines or processes used in the health sector.
Professionals in biomedical engineering typically have a background in biological sciences and medicine. They also help manage medical equipment in hospitals to ensure that they adhere to the relevant standards.
A biomedical engineer’s everyday duties can include inspection of equipment, routine testing and preventive maintenance.
If you like designing and building things, then civil engineering might be the right fit for you.
The job of civil engineers is to design, build and maintain different infrastructures. These include buildings, water systems, roads, bridges and power plants. Y
ou need a strong background in subjects like material science, mathematics, physics and geotechnics to work in this field.
As a civil engineer, you can choose from various sub-specialisations, including environmental engineering, hydraulics engineering, and many more.
Chemical engineers deal with the chemical and biological processes behind the production of everyday items that we see and use. These include food, medicine and fuel.
They help to develop the process that converts the raw materials into those valuable products.
Their everyday duties can involve conducting research on these raw materials, developing and recommending efficient processes for manufacturing and testing the processes.
Chemical engineering is a wide branch with several courses you can choose from, and you can focus on areas like plant design, process engineering or chemical reaction engineering.
Mechanical engineering deals with machines and mechanical systems. This is a fairly traditional and well-known branch of engineering, but it’s still required in new and emerging fields, including artificial intelligence and sustainable energy.
Mechanical engineers help to design, build and maintain machines and mechanical devices.
They can help build new and innovative mechanical systems in numerous fields, ranging from transportation and manufacturing to robotics and nanotechnology.
Aerospace engineering is just what it seems: the development of aircraft - and spacecraft.
The role of aerospace engineers is a little more complex; they research, design, develop, test, repair and maintain commercial and non-commercial aircraft.
Astronautical engineers specialise in studying the conditions of space and developing spacecraft.
If you’re interested in the mechanics of aircraft and the history and inner workings of flight travel, you can consider a career in aerospace engineering.
As an aerospace engineer, you can also choose to specialise in areas such as aerodynamics, propulsion, avionics or composites analysis.
“We’ve developed all manner of engineering wonders, including steam power, aeronautics, and iconic designs, like the world’s fastest car: the supersonic Thrust.” - British Council.
Computer science engineering
Computer science engineers design, develop, maintain, test and repair computer hardware and software.
This branch can be called a hybrid between electrical engineering and computer science. This means they can work on designing or upgrading computer parts like circuit boards, processors and memory devices.
On the other hand, they typically have a background in software development and programming, so they may perform tasks like installing or updating an operating system or preventing a cybersecurity attack.
Computer science engineers need a strong background in science, mathematics, and, of course, computers.
Just like the job title implies, agricultural engineers work with machinery, systems and processes related to farming and agriculture.
They design machinery and equipment used for different agricultural processes, such as planting and harvesting. They also test these equipment to ensure they can perform their functions.
Agricultural engineers may work with other engineers and professionals to design food processing plants, streamline manufacturing processes and construct electrical power distribution systems for buildings used for agricultural purposes. For example, storage facilities for crops or housing for animals.
Alternative energy engineering
In recent times, there has been a higher demand for alternative energy sources because of climate change and the pressure that the major energy sources put on the environment.
Alternative energy engineers are the professionals concerned with the generation of energy from more sustainable sources. These include solar energy, biofuel and wind power.
Working as an alternative energy engineer involves helping to find cleaner and more innovative ways to generate energy without harming the environment.
These professionals are often involved in the development of new processes to improve current methods.
They also handle the conversion and supply of the sustainable power generated from these alternative sources.
Telecommunications engineers handle several technical aspects of the exchange of information through different channels as we know it. They design, build and maintain voice communication systems.
This involves working with components like satellites, fibre optics and data. They work across sectors like mobile communication, TV and radio broadcasting and optical networking.
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Salaries for different engineering branches
|Job title||Average base salary per year|
|1||AI and machine learning engineer||£63,084|
|8||Computer science engineer||£27,476|
|10||Alternative energy engineer||£40,146|
Eligibility criteria for engineering courses
Candidates need to meet certain criteria to study engineering, and they include:
- Qualifications in maths and physics or chemistry.
- Relevant English proficiency test scores.
- Certain universities may require you to take an admission test. For example, Cambridge requires you to take the Engineering Admissions Assessment (ENGAA).
Some universities may also offer a foundation year for students who do not meet the standard entry requirements.
Top universities to study engineering
According to QS world university rankings, the top 10 universities to study engineering and technology in 2023 are listed below:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, United States
- Stanford University, Stanford, United States
- University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
- University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom
- University of California, Berkeley, United States
- Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
- ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
- Harvard University, Cambridge, United States
- Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
- California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, United States
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What skills do you need to study engineering?
While different branches may require different skill sets, here are some general skills you require to excel in engineering:
- A background in mathematics and science subjects
- Computer literacy
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- Creativity and innovation
- Research skills
- Analytical skills
- Materials knowledge
- Mechanical aptitude
- Teamwork and collaboration skills
- Communication skills
- Leadership skills
- Decision-making skills
- Attention to detail
- Time management
- Project management
Frequently asked questions
What engineering branch will be in demand in the future?
Some of the fastest-growing engineering branches that seem to have even more prospects for growth in the future include AI and machine learning engineering, computer science engineering, alternative energy engineering, aerospace engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering and biomedical engineering.
Which engineering branch has the best career prospects?
While all the engineering branches discussed in this article offer great career prospects, computer science engineering, AI and machine learning engineering, civil engineering, and biomedical engineering have even better career prospects.
Which engineering branch is the most demanding?
Being an engineering student generally requires substantial effort, hard work and dedication. Different branches may present different levels of difficulty to individuals. This typically relates to a student’s background, personal interest and skills. However, some sources say chemical engineering, electrical engineering and aerospace engineering are the most demanding engineering branches.
Are you ready to start your engineering journey?
At Edvoy, we can help you make an informed decision on which engineering branch is best for your future. If you’re still sceptical, you can try remote counselling. Speaking to a professional can help you gain more clarity and start to build a successful career in your chosen engineering area.