Find out how to get into engineering in the UK
Here are the 7 most popular routes. Which one is right for you?
Want to join the engineers who are changing the world? There are lots of ways into an exciting career in engineering in the UK.
Apprenticeships let you earn while you learn. They’re great for people who love hands-on learning, and who don’t want to go to college or university. They take between 1 and 5 years to complete, depending on the level. You need to be at least 16 to apply.
As an engineering apprentice you’ll:
- work alongside experienced staff
- gain job-specific skills
- earn a wage and get holiday pay
- get time for study related to your role (usually one day a week)
2. Higher Apprenticeships
Higher Apprenticeships (HAs) combine a job with learning, so you earn a wage while developing your skills. You’ll be based in the workplace and working alongside experienced staff. Ideal if you want to get qualified without the student debt.
HAs can take three to four years to complete depending on the level of the qualification. The standard pay offered is a national minimum wage, however, many employers will pay higher apprentices more than other apprentices. The HA could lead to a permanent job offer afterwards.
You can apply for an HA if you’re:
- 18 years old and over
- have already completed an Advanced Apprenticeship or
- have a minimum of two A-levels
Employers may take into account previous work experience or other relevant criteria if you don’t match the above, so it’s worth applying if you’re keen to get into engineering this way.
Launching in 2020
3. T levels
T levels are a new post GCSE technical qualification that starts in September 2020. Because they’re practical and involve work placements, they’re an excellent option if you’re thinking of a career in engineering.
- Designed with businesses and employers
- Include a 45 day work placement
- Give you a nationally recognised graded certificate
- Award UCAS points. A distinction is the equivalent of 3 A levels at A*
- Involve more classroom study than apprenticeships, which means you can experience an industry while you continue your studies.
- No tuition fees if you start before you are 19
After completing your A-Levels, T-levels, IB, Highers, BTEC Level 3 or equivalent, you may decide to go on to study engineering at university.
Degree courses (BEng) normally last for 3 or 4 years while Masters courses (MEng) last for 4 or 5 years. Some courses involve a year working in industry or a year abroad so you’ll gain valuable work experience as part of the course.
You can take a ‘general engineering’ degree or decide on a particular type of engineering, for example civil engineering, electronic engineering, design engineering, mechanical engineering or one of the many other types of engineering.
Usually involves studying for three years (four in Scotland). Provides solid training in general engineering or a particular field of engineering for careers in that sector. Options may include a year abroad, a year in industry, or a foundation year if you need to get up to speed with entry requirements.
Usually involves studying for four years (five in Scotland). Provides a more in-depth study than a BEng/BSc and usually involves a final year research project. Provides a good basis for a specialised engineering career or PhD/Engineering Doctorate (EngD).
Many engineering degree programmes are accredited by the Engineering Council – this means they meet the standards set out by the engineering profession. Visit the Engineering Council’s website to search for accredited degree programmes.
Engineering with a year abroad
There are many degrees available that include a year overseas as part of the course. Your first and final years of the degree are the same as a regular degree. One of the other years will be spent studying at the overseas university. Students often value the experience of living and working in an environment very different from home, as well as the contacts and friends they make.
Engineering with industrial experience
Allows you to apply your learning and practice/improve your skills in a real work environment. Gives you the opportunity to see if a career in that field is right for you. May allow you to earn while you learn. Helps establish useful links with potential future employers. Enhances your CV – helpful for recent graduates.
University tuition fees
Unlike Apprenticeships, HAs and T levels, there’s a financial cost to studying engineering at Uni. Tuition fees in the UK vary depending on your home country. For home students, English universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
Institutions in Wales can charge up to £9,000 for home students and £3,925 for European Union and Northern Irish students. Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of your tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,030 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
5. Work Experience
Work experience can be a good route into engineering. It gives you a feel for the industry, and shows you what an engineering job would be like. It also demonstrates to future employers that you’re keen, determined and proactive, so it’s a good addition to your CV or personal statement.
Search for work experience opportunities via The STEM Exchange website
6. Engineering job opportunities
If you want to go straight to an engineering job, search current vacancies and opportunities here: Enginuity Engineering Job Opportunities
Be proactive and take a look at individual companies’ websites to see any current opportunities. Follow organisations you’d like to work for on Twitter and LinkedIn too, as they’ll sometimes advertise jobs in a social space first.
7. Graduate opportunities
A graduate role is your opportunity to kick start your career and begin shaping your future in the world of engineering and manufacturing. If you’re a recent graduate, professional registration will be an important next step on your career ladder. The first stage in becoming registered is to join a professional engineering institution.
- Government Apprenticeship Guide https://www.gov.uk/apprenticeships-guide
- Engineering Apprenticeships in England https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship
- Engineering Apprenticeships in Scotland https://www.apprenticeships.scot/
- Engineering Apprenticeships in Northern Ireland https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/apprenticeships
- Engineering Apprenticeships in Wales https://ams.careerswales.com/Public/Default.aspx?mode=vacancy&type=ams
- National Careers Service https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/