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Here’s how to become an engineer

The demand for high-level science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills is on the rise, which means that there has never been a better time to consider a career in one of these areas, and today, we’ll be focussing on engineering. The modern job market has a high demand for engineering skills, but nowhere near enough supply, which means salaries in the field are very attractive at the moment. Regardless of whether you’re considering a career in civil, mechanical, electrical, automotive, transport, chemical or design engineering, here are some tips on where and how to start.


How do I become a qualified engineer in South Africa?

Even though you might want to attend a bona fide university to study engineering, there are actually a number of alternative study options. From private colleges to Universities of Technology and engineering schools, South Africa is home to a lot of tertiary education institutions that offer engineering courses.

To enroll for a BSc in Engineering, you need to submit proof of passing subjects like English, Mathematics (NOT Maths Literacy) and Physical Science at National Senior Certificate level.


It’s also wise to remember that not all universities in SA offer a Bachelor of Engineering degree (BEng), which is why you have the option of studying a Bachelor of Science in the field of Engineering (BSc). Universities that offer the BEng include the University of Cape Town (UCT), University of Johannesburg (UJ), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), University of Stellenbosch, and the University of Witwatersrand (Wits).


Who are the most popular engineering employers in South Africa?

According to the latest stats from Adzuna, here are the top five companies currently hiring engineers:

  1. Sasol
  2. FNB
  3. Transnet
  4. Datacentrix
  5. Entelect Solutions


2016’s list saw Aurecon take the number one spot as the most popular employer, followed by BHP Billiton, Eskom, Sasol, and Transnet. Tech companies in 2019 also feature heavily, perhaps reflecting the exponential rise in tech opportunities, with Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and IBM high up on the list.


How much will I get paid as an engineer?

As with most jobs out there, salaries vary hugely depending on your experience, professional development and training, job title, location, and your area of engineering expertise. But career prospects are attractive and it’s easy to move up the pay scale if you’re willing to work for it and prove your worth. There’s a big gap in the skills market as far as STEM skills are concerned, which means that employers are always on the lookout for top-notch candidates.


Experienced chartered engineers earn in the region of R558,000 per year, more if you take into account extras like overtime and bonuses. Graduate engineers fresh out of university can expect to take home around R380,000 per year working for a regional employer. But this can rise rapidly if they’re fortunate enough to be employed by a global company, like BP.


The typical starting salary for an engineering apprentice is about R250,000 per year, but individuals that have earned their degree through means of apprenticeship can expect to take home up to R520,000 per year.