You Can Have It All
SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) graduates are now, more than ever, turning away from a career directly related to their degree, towards alternative options in business and teaching. Anne Hollowday discovers how
So you’ve got a degree in SET (science, engineering or technology) but you don’t want to be a scientist, an engineer, or work in technology? Well, do not fear. There is a wealth of alternatives well within your reach, many of which will truly value the skills obtained during your degree.
Increasingly, it seems that when a large salary is on offer, applications rocket. This is most obviously the case with banking. The competition for jobs is fierce, and as a recent Oxford engineering graduate says: "Banking is clearly the most lucrative avenue to pursue and can be highly rewarding if you are well versed or lucky enough to end up in a discipline you enjoy. However, hours will always be long and the pressure intense". Recent trends have indicated that investment banking firms are specifically targeting engineering graduates – and who can blame them for taking the roles, when starting salaries are around £35k compared to the £25k usually offered in engineering.
"Management consultancy is a role which attracts a great deal of applications," adds another Oxford graduate. "After graduating with a physics degree, I decided I didn’t want to pursue a career in science. After some extensive research I chose management consultancy because it gave me the opportunity to use the practical skills I’d amassed during my degree, whilst also allowing me to tap into my scientific
brain to disaggregate complex problems into their component parts." This is an extremely popular option for many SET graduates. Huge draws to the industry are the decent salaries on offer, starting from around £30k. One physics graduate says: "Along with sign-on and performance-related bonuses, my first year salary was around £42k."
Whilst unable to compete in the monetary stakes, teaching offers a unique and stimulating career educating our future generations. A degree in any discipline enables a graduate to become a primary school teacher after the completion of ITT (Initial Teacher Training). However, to become a secondary teacher, your degree must relate to the subject you would like to teach. Enhancement courses in chemistry, mathematics and physics, which take 26 weeks to complete, are available for graduates who have not completed in-depth study of these subjects, but who have significant knowledge of related ones. ITT can be undertaken in four different ways. Teach First is a two-year scheme for the UK’s top graduates, working with underprivileged schools in urban areas of London, Manchester and the Midlands. Recruitment consultancy is another popular alternative to careers in SET. It requires stoic enthusiasm and excellent communication skills, and is a booming sector with more jobs being secured through recruitment agencies than before. Salaries start at around £20k. Performance-related bonuses can add to this by as much as £15k, though this can involve working under strenuous conditions.
SET graduates are in a unique position because the theoretical skills they learn through the technical application of their knowledge are extremely highly valued by many employers, alongside their technical knowledge.
It is this combination that sets them apart in the graduate field and affords them so many opportunities. Therefore, if you decide to turn away from SET directly, the opportunities awaiting you not only exist in abundance, but they are relevant too.