Your Ultimate Guide to a Career in Engineering

Engineering can take you pretty much anywhere, from the bottom of the ocean to the deep reaches of space.

Are you the type of person who just has to take things apart to see how they work? A born problem-solver who loves a challenge? Engineering might be just what you’re looking for.

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Engineering Apprenticeships

The Basics

The UK is experiencing something of an engineering boom, with more engineering jobs being created than ever before. While companies clash over the best talent, the number of great companies offering quality engineering apprenticeships has exploded.

Engineers operate across many different branches. Some of these most popular disciplines include mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and civil engineering (to name just a few).

More than ever people are finding their first step into the engineering industry via an entry-level, advanced or higher qualification. Engineering degree apprenticeships even allow you to gain a university qualification, beginning your journey towards official chartered status (an important career milestone).

As an industry, engineering is at the very forefront of innovation, from the design of computer hardware to the construction of satellites.

An apprenticeship can offer you a hands-on route into the world of engineering, allowing you to work on real projects from day one while you gain money, experience and qualifications. 

Types of Engineering Apprenticeships

Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineers work on problems involving both aircraft and spacecraft. An Aerospace engineer might be tasked with a number of aircraft-related problems, from the design of a wing to the power of a thruster.

Aerospace engineering includes two branches, aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering (rocket science!)

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Automotive Engineering

Automotive engineers are concerned with the development of vehicles, be that passenger cars, trucks, motorcycles or off-road dune-buggies.

An automotive engineer might be tasked with modifying or improving a part of an existing vehicle or even designing a new product. They might even work in the world of motorsports racing.

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Broadcast Engineering

The broadcast engineer works across TV, radio and multimedia to ensure the technical aspects of a broadcast. A master of specialist AV and broadcast equipment, broadcast engineering is a multifaceted role that requires high standards in tight deadlines.

Broadcast engineering offers the chance to get involved with media industries from a technical perspective.

Civil Engineering

Civil engineering is a hugely varied discipline, with civil engineers working across infrastructure and construction. Civil engineers can work on buildings, roads, bridges, anything with a structural component.

Civil engineers get the chance to work on a lot of interesting and different projects.

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Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers design electrical systems to meet requirements and specifications. Electrical engineering is required across a number of sectors, from building services to transportation and manufacturing.

Electrical engineers ensure that the right products and systems are put into place to ensure safety, quality, and low-cost for end users.

Energy Engineering

Energy engineering is concerned with energy systems, be that the production of energy through natural resources (oil and gas engineering), or green energy production through wind, solar, biofuels and hydro.

Energy engineers help to make existing systems more efficient so that more energy can be created for less. They also ensure that solutions are safe and as sustainable as possible.

Marine Engineering

Marine engineers focus on the ocean and water propulsion, designing ships, oil rigs and submarines.

Marine engineering helps to apply both existing and new engineering systems to the difficult conditions experienced on and under the water.

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineering (including mechanics) is all about mechanical systems. Mechanical engineers work across a vast number of sectors, anywhere where there are mechanical parts in use from transport to construction, aerospace to marine, mechanical spans many other engineering disciplines.

Mechanical engineering is one of the oldest and broadest of engineering disciplines, so there are many applications that need improving and maintaining.

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Telecommunications Engineering

Telecommunications engineers are responsible for the design, installation and maintenance of telecommunications systems. Historically this referred to systems for telephone communications, but now includes digital communications and infrastructure for digital networks. They are tasked with allowing data transmission.

Telecommunications also includes the engineering required to establish wireless networks.

Entry requirements?

There are no national entry requirements for apprenticeships, so you’ll need to check levels and requirements with potential employers.

Many engineering apprenticeships are aimed at school leavers and those taking A-levels. The exact entry requirements will vary depending on the scheme, but engineering favours skills in maths, science, electronics, or IT, with a general aptitude towards problem-solving. As well as technical ability, engineers require good communication skills, as well as the ability to work well in an, often multi-discipline, team.

A good personality fit for engineering would be someone who is curious and interested in how things work, someone who is willing to think outside the box and challenge the status-quo. Engineers are always looking for a better way to achieve an end goal.

Before applying to any apprenticeships or attending any interviews, ensure that you have fully researched the role and the company. Impress your potential employer by showing off your knowledge!

Engineering offers a broad range of apprenticeship opportunities, so don’t be too easily discouraged as there’s always more schemes on the horizon. Engineering is one of the most popular apprenticeship disciplines and continues to grow every year.

Apprentice Levels

Apprenticeships are split into levels depending on the length and the qualification that you receive at the end. Possible qualifications that you’ll get could be:

Yep, that’s right: with some high-level apprenticeships, you can achieve a full bachelor’s or master’s degree at the end, without going to university. Degree apprenticeships usually last between three and five years, and you can find them at some huge companies; including some of the largest engineering firms in the UK.

If three to five years sounds too long for you, apprenticeships at Levels 2 to 5 are usually shorter, and you’ll qualify with the equivalent of five GCSE grades, two A-levels or a foundation degree.