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Careers for law graduates in engineering

Jaymes Carr

Careers Commentator

What does an engineer do?

Making, testing, and fixing things – these are the engineer’s bread and butter. Engineers draw on a range of technical skills, such as a strong command of fluid dynamics; an understanding of the structural integrity of different materials; and the ability to solve practical challenges. Engineers fall into various fields of expertise, including aeronautical engineering, civil engineering, software engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, and robotic engineering. You’ll often find engineers generating new solutions to novel problems, or helping to turn other people’s (sometimes outlandish) ideas into realities.

Where do engineers work?

Engineers work in various places, from large firms such as BAE Systems and Honeywell to smaller, often niche organisations. Engineers also work at manufacturing plants, hospitals, construction sites, mines, and airports, as well as in the public service.

How can I take advantage of my law degree?

There are now multiple universities in Australia that offer engineering and law as a combined ‘double degree’. If you’ve graduated from such a double degree and wish to pursue a career in engineering, then you’re in an enviable position – the technical skills you’ve developed as an engineering student are well complemented by the reasoning skills you’ve gained during your study of law, and this is an appealing combination for prospective employers.

However, if you haven’t studied engineering, but still wish to work in the engineering sector, then your legal background will still stand you in good stead. For example, there are firms such as Kreisson and Vincent Young that focus specifically on the legal challenges that confront engineering projects. Their lawyers deal with issues such as risk management, contractual negotiation, property transactions, and strata management. Larger engineering firms are more likely to recruit in-house counsels to perform similar tasks.

Of course, there are other roles within the engineering sector that require specific qualifications in neither engineering nor law, but do take advantage of the more generic skills acquired in each field of study. For example, as a project manager or supply chain specialist, you will use your organisational skills, ability to communicate effectively, and negotiation experience to manage complex teams and processes.

What is the average salary?

In Australia, the average entry-level package for a graduate in the engineering sector is $68,000 per year and the average number of hours worked per week is 43.