Studying engineering at third level

by Claire Murphy

An engineering qualification offers a chance to work in a large variety of industries such as biomedical devices, pharmaceuticals, construction, consultancy, energy, ICT (hi-tech ) manufacturing, utilities, public sector and infrastructure, and with great career progression and a good salary, many view engineering as a very rewarding profession.

With the recent announcement of two apprenticeships in civil engineering and numerous engineering courses available throughout the country, engineering has never been more accessible, coupled with the general shortage of engineers in Ireland, graduates are almost guaranteed a job upon graduation, “with civil engineering firms creating up to 8,000 jobs in 2023 alone,” according to the president of Engineers Ireland. There are also a lot of engineering vacancies abroad in Australia, Canada and the USA.

The University of Galway has a number of engineering courses such as civil, electrical and electronic, mechanical, energy systems, electronic and computer construction and project management engineering, and with eight out of 10 of the world's biggest biomedical engineering companies such as Boston Scientific, Merit Medical, Medtronic, Campus Medical, etc, based in Galway, biomedical engineering is particularly popular.

For students who are unsure what type of engineering they want to study, there is also undenominated engineering available in University of Galway which provides different insights into the various types of engineering. Sligo ATU offers mechatronics, polymer processing engineering as well as robotics and automation engineering at a range of Levels 6, 7 and 8. Athlone ATU offers mechanical and civil engineering also at a range of levels, giving students the option to finish at whatever level they wish.

Generally, engineering will require a good level of maths with at least a H4 at Leaving Cert, and some courses do require high points to gain entry. Level 6 and Level 7 engineering courses do not require higher level maths, for example the BEng in Athlone ATU does not require higher level maths to gain entry. Some universities, such as the University of Galway, offer a week-long maths preparatory course followed by a maths exam for students who did not make the H4 entry requirement, which usually takes place immediately after the Leaving Cert. In order to qualify for this course, students must have applied for University of Galway engineering courses on their CAO. Places on this course are limited and not everyone who completes the course is guaranteed a place in a course. Although it is not a requirement in general, those who like physics and chemistry would be well suited to the study of engineering.

Engineers Ireland, which is recognised internationally, recognises graduates with a four year Level 8 engineering degree as an ‘associate engineer’ and graduates who have completed a five year master's level engineering degree are recognised as a ‘chartered engineer’. There are obviously more job opportunities available to those with a chartered engineer membership. All engineering programmes offer work placements in companies and industries all over Ireland, depending on the engineering type. Engineers Ireland is a very proactive professional body, advertising jobs and providing CPD for all members.

Some very popular engineering companies here in Ireland include Jones, Kirby, Jaguar Land Rover, Lufthansa, PM group, Arup and some more local employers include Tobin, Sisk, Ayesa, and Viatris. Many engineers are also setting up their own business, offering engineering services. The local councils and corporations as well as the ESB and many other Government departments also hire many engineers.

There are many advantages to studying engineering. Graduates can work in a variety of industries, travel and earn a good salary. Many graduates who have studied engineering have also gone on to work in other areas such as finance, insurance, research, education, policy and many more, so even if a student chooses engineering and decides not to pursue a career in engineering, an engineering qualification will act as a great springboard for many other jobs and professions outside of engineering.

Claire Murphy obtained her masters in career guidance and counseling in Trinity and has more than 10 years' experience working as a teacher and a career guidance counsellor at both second and third level. She is currently working as a consultant career guidance counsellor in Psychmed. To book an appointment for a CV or personal statement review, interview skills or help with CAO choice, email her at


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