Engineering operative


Career outlook for engineering operative

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland

Information is unavailable

"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would put together different parts to make products such as cars, household appliances, gadgets and furniture.

You’d use hand and machine tools to assemble electrical or mechanical products.

You could work in different industries from manufacturing to rail and renewable energy. For example, you might make parts on a car production line or maintain wind turbines.

You would:

  • Build components and sub-assemblies into finished products
  • Fit parts to machinery and equipment
  • Cut and shape parts and tools
  • Operate machine tools, like lathes, grinders and borers
  • Use moulding machines, preset to carry out certain tasks
  • Set and operate hand-controlled or computer-controlled machines
  • Apply finishes and surface coatings to products

You’d need to understand technical diagrams and manuals and be able to concentrate on repetitive tasks.

You could also move raw materials and finished products around the factory or workshop using forklift trucks, hoists or trolleys.

You’d need to work safely and be aware of health and safety issues.

Working conditions


You would typically work 37 to 40 hours a week on a shift pattern covering days, evenings, nights and weekends. You may have occasional overtime.


If you work in finishing operations, such as heat or chemical treatments, you may have to deal with high temperatures or fumes, which would require special protective equipment. At other times, you would normally wear protective clothing such as safety glasses, boots and overalls.

UK employment status





Self employed


Create a qualification route

We've found some examples of the qualifications that could help you get this job.

Discover my route

Search course options

Thinking about your future? There are lots of courses available that could interest you. Use our course search to explore course options.

Find courses

Search job opportunities

If you're looking for your new career our job search can help you. Discover interesting opportunities and decide your next steps.

Find a job

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Cooperating
  • Observation
  • Attention to detail
  • Concentrating
  • Taking responsibility
  • Understanding

Skills Explorer

Your skills can help you choose the career that's right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

Our Skills Explorer tool will help you understand what skills you have and match them to jobs that might suit you.

Use the Skills Explorer tool

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


You would need a Modern Apprenticeship leading to a relevant Scottish Vocational Qualification.

Or a National Qualification or National Certificate (SCFQ level 4-6), Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) in areas like:

  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic engineering technologies
  • Maintenance engineering technologies
  • Renewable energy
  • Engineering

Some employers may ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4/5, in particular for entry to a Modern Apprenticeship.

You can enter some National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF 2-6) with no formal qualifications but most courses ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5). You can enter Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.  

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by many courses and employers)
  • Science subjects, in particular physics (required by many courses and employers)
  • English
  • Technologies subjects, such as engineering science

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show understanding and experience of the industry such as Skills for Work Engineering Skills (SCFQ level 4).

With relevant experience and qualifications (SCQF level 7/ SVQ level 3) you may be able to become an engineering technician.