The SOE has introduced a career pathway guide that is designed to help members navigate their career growth through engineering, featuring information from people who have been there before

Engineering isn’t just a career; it’s an adventure into innovation where every day brings new challenges and breakthroughs. As technology evolves at a lightning speed, transport engineers are right there with it, learning, growing and pushing boundaries.

Being an engineer isn’t about just following standards; it’s about defining them, driving change and making a tangible difference in the world. Within the Society of Operations’ latest guide ‘Pathways to progress’ – which has been curated from its membership – stories are shared by those who have carved unique paths in engineering, offering insights and inspiration to those who are facing the challenge of navigating their career landscape. Designed to be read by those who are both starting out or seeking direction, the guide and the SOE’s team is here to ‘light the way to a future filled with endless possibilities’.


Research by EngineeringUK predicts 173,000 new engineering and technology jobs in the UK by 2030. Engineering is set to boom in the coming years, with ample opportunities open to those aiming to advance their careers. In its recent report, ’Engineering Economy and Place’, The Royal Academy of Engineering lays out the distribution of engineering economy by employment by occupation. The weight that ‘deployment’ and ‘research and development’ carries in the distribution of the engineering economy – 51% combined – clearly suggests the significance of innovation in engineering as we navigate new challenges. The responsibility of shaping the world of tomorrow to secure a better future for the next generation lies in the hands of today’s engineers. This calls for an increased emphasis on upskilling, investing in professional development and elevating standards to stand out from the crowd.

Engineers of tomorrow have a unique opportunity to harness the power of innovation and fuse it with their skills to drive further progression. Regardless of your chosen discipline, those who are serious about career progression must practise adaptability and resilience as essential skills to stay competent against the shifting landscape.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn rated ‘adaptability’ as one of the top skills of the moment in its 2024 Most In-Demand Skills. While technical know-how is crucial, to succeed, engineers require a combination of soft skills, too. Communication, leadership, teamwork, problem solving, and management are some of the top requirements in today’s engineering job descriptions. These human skills could be a differentiator between staying at your current level versus progressing to higher ranks.

Furthermore, the guide explores core competencies and qualifications required to achieve Professional Registration with Engineering Council and the Society of the Environment. “This guide represents a collaborative effort to empower operational engineers with the tools and resources needed to chart their professional journey,” remarks Emma Thompson, head of business operations at SOE.


Before an engineer explores promotion or transition opportunities, they are advised in the guide to take on a mentor or coach, for a better chance of success. In doing so, they will have someone on hand who understands the breadth of their abilities and can advise on possible paths to take.

‘Exploring accreditations and membership with Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) is highly recommended for those who are looking to achieve recognition of your professionalism and commitment to the work you are engaged in,’ states the report. ‘If you explore the Professional Registration route, you’ll have the support of assessors and experts at your disposal to guide you in the right path, and help you navigate the process of achieving your credentials.’

From a client services perspective, professional qualifications demonstrating competence and commitment provide reassurance to management, customers and auditors that you are engaged in sound engineering and operational practices. “I think having professional registration makes people regard you a little differently, and I feel professional registration leaves my clients with that extra level of comfort that their plant and equipment is in the hands of a knowledgeable, competent engineering professional,” says Paul Smethurst, EngTech MSOE MBES.


Elsewhere in the guide, there are a number of case studies from a wide range of engineers in the sector, who have jobs as disparate as offshore installation manager, mobile diagnostics engineer and pressure engineer surveyor. The case studies detail the routes that each individual took to their current position, the qualifications they have and advice to engineers who are looking to advance their career.

Elsewhere, there is a section on professional registration – and the qualifications required to apply for each registration title – and details of why CPD is so important in engineering. Readers of the guide will also find information on how to get into leadership and management, including the essential competencies and criteria required to achieve success.

The guide is available by visiting:


As well as the launch of the career pathway guide, SOE has revealed details of its Safety & Resilience in Engineering Awards 2024. The main theme this year is to honour and recognise ‘safety, innovation and tales of resilience in engineering’.

Engineers are at the forefront of forging solutions that keep our economy moving, our roads safe, our resources sustainable and our planet green. Operations engineering lies at the heart of it all – without it, our foundations falter and we are vulnerable.

The SOE Safety & Resilience in Engineering Awards will shine the spotlight on two vital themes – safety and resilience. How can we safeguard our businesses and communities against unpredictable elements, while building resilience to shape a safer ecosystem for future generations and the greater good of our society?

The 2024 awards aim to honour and celebrate the contributions of engineers, teams, visionaries and organisations that have pioneered groundbreaking technologies and innovative solutions to propel our industries forward.

Full list of awards and categories

Special Award

Helix Award – for innovations/technologies/leadership that has demonstrated ultimate resilience during times of adversity


■ Environmental Engineer of the Year

■ Road Transport Engineer of the Year

■ Plant Engineer of the Year

■ Engineer Surveyor of the Year

■ SOE Volunteer of the Year

Future Leader

Safety Specialist Award


■ Engineering Company of the Year

Safety Innovation of the Year

■ People Development Champion


■ SOE Region of the Year

The Safety & Resilience in Engineering Awards are open to members and non-members inside and outside of the UK. Benefits include recognition for your work and achievements and press and social media coverage across SOE’s publications including Transport Engineer magazine.

There will also be an invitation to contribute to other SOE initiatives including speaking opportunities for CPD webinars and videos. All shortlisted nominations will be invited to a dinner in the autumn for an afternoon of celebration and networking accompanied by a three-course meal and drinks.

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