What Does an Engineering Trainee Do?

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  • Written By: K. Kinsella
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 31 March 2020
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An engineering trainee assists established engineers with projects that often involve designing and building structures and devices. Additionally, an engineering trainee also has to undergo some on-the-job training that may culminate in an examination. In most instances, trainees are engineering graduates although some firms also hire undergraduates and people with advanced degrees to fill these roles.

Governments and private firms recruit engineering trainees with the intention of eventually offering these individuals permanent jobs. Training programs normally last for several months or years after which trainees may have to pass an exam that is administered either by their employer or by a regulatory authority. While many colleges offer degrees courses in general engineering, trainee jobs are normally focused on a specific type of engineering such as civil, mechanical or electrical engineering.


Civil engineers design roads, bridges and other types of structures that are often funded by regional or national governments. An engineering trainee working for a civil engineering firm may produce designs for new projects or perform research to determine the structural integrity of bridges, buildings and various types of structures. In some instances, newly hired trainees actually make practical contributions to major projects but on other occasions the trainees watch and observe fully qualified engineers and do not have any hands-on involvement in projects. Established engineers explain the design and development process to the trainees. Additionally, trainees are schooled in the techniques and business practices of the employer so that they are familiar with the employer's procedures by the time that they complete their training.

Mechanical and electrical engineers are tasked with designing systems and equipment. These individuals are also responsible for maintaining and repairing existing machinery and systems. An engineering trainee at a mechanical engineering firm will be taught how to operate and repair the firm's equipment. Electrical engineering trainees learn about electrical systems and components that the company's permanent employees commonly handle. Additionally, these trainees receive a certain amount of general on-the-job training that will enable them to learn about systems and machines that are encountered by engineers across the industry as a whole.

Initially, an engineering trainee may have minimal responsibilities but as the trainee program progresses, employers assign increasingly complex tasks to these individuals. Trainees who perform well are eventually able to work with minimal direct supervision. Some engineering firms even allow trainees to perform tasks for other business clients although these outside projects are normally overseen by an experienced engineer. At the end of the training program, trainees who have performed well are often given permanent jobs while others are able to seek employment elsewhere.


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