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International engineering

Buildings in DubaiFrom overseas work to outsourcing, find out how the international nature of engineering can affect your career.

Working abroad

Engineering is a great option for people who want to work abroad, as it's an international industry based on skills and techniques that work anywhere. For this reason, many engineering courses offer the chance to study a language, and many engineering firms work in more than one country.

Find out more about engineering overseas.

Internationally recognised qualifications

Although all engineering qualifications can display your skills to employers anywhere in the world, some are particularly valuable if you want to work overseas. In particular, an agreement called the Washington Accord states that engineering degrees are equivalent in a number of different countries, such as the UK, US, Japan, Australia and China. This means that an engineering degree studied in one country can be used to become registered in another.

For Chartered Engineers, there is also a qualification called International Professional Engineer (IntPE) registration. This is designed to make registration in other countries easier, as it recognises your experience as well as your academic qualifications.

Outsourcing and offshoring

One worry for engineers these days is that your work might move abroad and you might not. 'Outsourcing' is when a business has some of its work done by another organisation, usually because that organisation can do it more cheaply. For example, many electronic goods are put together in China because land costs and wages are lower there. Outsourcing to another country is known as 'offshoring'.

Although a lot of outsourcing is done with unskilled jobs like manufacturing, companies also outsource technical work. Here are a few things to think about if you're worried about your job disappearing overseas:

  • The more skills you have, the more valuable you are. This applies both in your field, where staying at the cutting edge of techniques and technology is very valuable, and to broader skills like learning another language.
  • Some jobs are safer than others. For example, smaller companies are less likely to outsource because it's less worthwhile for them, while public, government-run jobs are more likely to be kept in the country for political or security reasons.
  • Once you're in a job, your position in the organisation can be as important as your skills. This could mean paying attention to the kind of expertise the business requires and working to develop it, or concentrating on things that can't be outsourced, like pitching or management.

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