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6 ways to earn more as a Design Engineer

6 ways to earn more as a Design Engineer

As a design engineer, you have the luxury of working across a range of projects using your technical knowledge and design skills to create and develop innovative engineering solutions. With the responsibility of transforming ideas into real products, design engineers are in demand across a variety of sectors from aerospace and automotive to maritime and infrastructure. The serious engineering shortage in the UK and globally means that engineers of all types are required to fill the gap, and design engineers are no different.  According to, the average salary for a design engineer is £28,944 but you could earn upwards of £50,000 in a senior design engineering position.  So how else can you achieve a higher salary in this role? 

1. Work towards chartered status

A fully chartered engineer is likely to earn more throughout their career than an engineer without this status. It’s important to decide on your chosen design stream and research your preferred professional body.  It’s a good idea to speak to your employer or HR department to find out what support they can offer you.  Some employers will assign a registered mentor and create a work programme that will help you obtain professional registration, which could boost your earnings by as much as 30%. 

2. Seek work on flagship projects

Securing work on internationally significant projects such as  Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport or the UK’s High Speed Rail Two will add weight and kudos to your CV as a design engineer.  Industry and trade journals as well as specialist recruitment consultancies can keep you up to date with which employers have secure projects or work packages that might be of interest to you.

3. Consider a change in engineering sector

Diversifying your experience by working in a different sector for a few years can enhance your appeal to employers and boost your skills and knowledge base. Project leads are looking for transferrable skills, particularly within the design phase and will look favourably on design engineers that have worked across different sectors.   

4. Develop new skills

Supplementing your design experience with project management or leadership skills through formal or non-formal training will help increase your potential to earn more.  For project management, consider undertaking a course on Prince2 for the fundamental skills or the APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ) for further development.  Other options include studying for a Master of Business Studies (MBS) qualification or for a management diploma. 

5. Embrace new technology

In a 2016 survey of over 300 construction industry employers, finding professionals with the necessary business information modelling (BIM) training was the most common struggle. Design engineers who have experience in  BIM and data supported engineering as well as 3D digital design packages can command the best salaries, particularly in sectors where the uptake of technology or processes has been slower to take off.

6. Demonstrate your leadership skills

As a senior engineer offering up your time to mentor junior engineers is another way to show your value to current and future employers. Not only will this help build upon your leadership skills and confidence but it will also help you gain respect from junior engineers who you may be likely to manage in the future. This can enable you to command a higher salary for future senior positions as you can demonstrate you’re team development skills. 

Design engineers are vital to the engineering industry, in high demand and so command significant opportunities for career and earning advancement. Good luck in advancing your earnings following our tips. If you are looking for the next step in your career, take a look at our latest opportunities for design engineers here.