Have you thought about re-training to become an Engineer?

Print page

Re-skilled for engineering aged 37


Delphine Ryan MRAeS discusses her career journey from retail to engineering, and demystifies what being an engineer is really like.

Had someone told me a few years ago that in my late 30s and with no formal secondary school education I would step up from supermarket sales assistant on minimum wage to qualified engineer working in military and commercial aviation and projects such as submarine manufacturing, I would have never believed them. Yet, this is exactly what happened.
In my youth, I loved aircraft and space exploration, and thought of becoming an engineer. But I married young and had children young and although I have always been quite confident in myself, I genuinely thought that, having no school qualifications, I would not be able to become an engineer in later life. I pushed the idea out of mind and decided to simply concentrate on raising my children as well as I could and be a good mum. I loved being a mum!

However, a few years ago I discovered I had been misinformed. There are in fact amazing opportunities for adults to study and work professionally in engineering even if lacking formal qualifications, as gaps in knowledge and skills can be filled. This is exactly what I did by studying a foundation course followed by a degree in aircraft maintenance engineering and graduating at 37!

There is a significant shortage of engineers in the UK, and only 8% of the engineering workforce are women. I firmly believe this shortage can be solved by women and men of all ages right here in this country.

There exists a common idea that engineers are people who wear a boiler suit with a hard hat and carry a tool box. This couldn’t be further from reality. While some engineers may be kitted up that way for a specific job or activity, it only represents one small aspect of the engineering profession.
So what is an engineer really?

An engineer is a person trained to put scientific knowledge to practical use. The word comes from the Latin word ingenium, which means ‘genius, invention’. Look around you to see all that is created by humans in the arts, the sciences and everyday living: all the product of thinking men and women.

If you are creative and like to solve problems, then an engineering career may be for you. Be persistent, be willing to learn and work, and ignore people who might put you down or cast doubt in your mind. Age, gender or race has very little to do with a person’s ability to think, to solve problems and to create.


Getting in touch

If you would like more information, to request materials or book a 1-2-1 appointment or on-campus workshop, please contact the Royal Aeronautical Society Careers team.

Our Latest Tweets

Sunday, July 14th, 2019 at 6:52pm
As the world celebrates #Apollo50 this week, inspiring film from @BBCNewsnight highlighting the contribution made by British and Irish scientists, engineers and computer scientists including @Aerosociety Fellow Pat Norris

https://t.co/JJcjdbO1iu @PatNorris1
Friday, July 12th, 2019 at 6:26pm
We are all ready to go here at the @YeoviltonAirDay looking forward to lots of conversations about all things #Aerospace and #Aviation. Big thanks to our Corporate Partner @Leonardo_UK for their support today! @AeroSociety @RoyalNavy #avgeek #navy #airshow #STEM #summer https://t.co/bkMtxPMBRG
Thursday, July 11th, 2019 at 9:01pm
alta has been designed as positive action or equality of opportunity as it addresses the specific needs of women who are under-represented in the aviation and aerospace industry. Sign up to become a mentor and support professional women today. #1YearOfWiAA https://t.co/a2mAgmwYOB https://t.co/xEjqpO2qWL

Our Latest News

Re-skilled for engineering aged 37   Delphine Ryan MRAeS discusses her career journey from...

Read More

The cream of the capital’s educators gathered on Friday (June 14) for the presentation of the...

Read More

Cool Aeronautics – Space Special!   On Friday 21st June, we welcomed 120 children to out...

Read More

Upcoming Events


August 1 – August 26 Saatchi Gallery, London SW3 4RY Get your tickets here! Through...

Read More

About this Event Whether you’re a Pilot, Cabin Crew, Engineer or recently graduated,...

Read More

New Scientist Live 2019 The world’s greatest science festival returns aiming to educate,...

Read More