Engineers use a knowledge of mathematics, science and other information to build, design or improve structures, infrastructures and the manner in which systems function. The engineering qualifications required to perform a specific job depend largely on the nature of the project. Many engineers have some form of an undergraduate or postgraduate college degree. In some countries people can obtain certificates and licences than enable them to work as engineers even if they lack a degree.
Prospective engineers with an interest in construction often obtain undergraduate degrees in civil engineering while those interested in building and repairing machinery usually enroll in mechanical engineering degrees. Pharmaceutical firms, medical companies and universities often seek out graduates with engineering qualifications in biological or chemical sciences. Information Technology (IT) firms recruit graduates with computer engineering degrees. Mining and energy firms may employ people with geo-technical engineering degrees, geology degrees, civil engineering degrees and various types of science degrees.
Having completed college, many graduates go on to take post graduate courses that focus on a specific type of engineering. To work as a nuclear engineer, a job applicant may have to have engineering qualifications that include a general engineering degree but also a masters degree that relates directly to nuclear energy. In some countries, universities offer post graduate programs such as engineering management or administration degrees that are designed to provide engineers with the requisite skills to oversee projects.
Some employers use the terms mechanic and engineer interchangeably. Consequently, people who work on mechanical issues on trains, buses and other vehicles may be referred to as engineers or mechanics. In some countries, people who perform such work have to complete an apprenticeship after which they receive a certificate of completion. Some colleges offer non-degree vocational courses for people who wish to work as vehicle engineers while others offer both full degree level courses and short-term courses that involve college level classes.
In many countries, most types of engineers have to be registered and licensed with the national or local government. To become licensed, engineers often have to pass national examinations or complete degree or post graduate courses. In some instances, individuals with no academic credentials who have received on-the-job training can obtain engineering licenses. Therefore, some types of engineering qualifications are obtainable based upon practical experience rather than academic achievement.
Universities and other higher educational establishments employ engineers of all types to work as lecturers and teachers. Aside from having appropriate engineering qualifications, these individuals often need to have passed some type of teacher training class. The teaching certification may relate directly to engineering or to the teaching profession as a whole.