A career in engineering is a wise choice to access both job satisfaction and excellent earning potential. With consistent demand, you’ll be entering an industry that provides high levels of job security too, for example, just look at the volume and variety of engineer jobs available in CBSbutler’s Engineering Recruitment Division. Whether it’s manufacturing or design engineering, there are specific steps you’ll need to take to pursue this career path.
Which A levels are required?
Three A-levels are required to study for an engineering degree, and these would be expected to include maths and (usually) physics. Depending on the course, some universities will accept another science-based subject. Despite this, physics is usually the preferred science subject. If you are hoping to apply for Cambridge or Oxford, you may need to obtain an A level in further maths. Besides A levels, it can be a good move to pursue a student placement while you are studying to gain some prior experience.
1. Vocational Courses
One option to begin your engineering career journey is to study a vocational course such as an NVQ or a BTEC. These courses have a particularly strong practical element, designed to adequately prepare you for the real-life scenarios of the industry. You can find vocational courses at various levels, and on completion, you are free to pursue employment, university, or an apprenticeship.
2 . The Apprenticeship Route
Apprenticeships work by combining studying and training (on the job). You’ll actually be working from the get-go, and getting paid as you learn the basics of engineering. Apprenticeships are available at both an intermediate level, and at a degree level. To get a place on an apprenticeship scheme, you’ll need to gain GSCEs. These GCSEs should include science, maths, and English plus two additional subjects. For some apprenticeship schemes, you can gain entry with technology subjects also. Accepted grades are A-C for most apprenticeship opportunities. This route is particularly useful for those who’d prefer to start earning right away.
3 . The University Route
Once you’ve got your BTech or A levels, you might decide to pursue a university course in engineering. You can focus your studies on a particular field of engineering should you wish, including mechanical engineering, electronic engineering, or civil engineering. Ensure that you research your specification thoroughly before committing to the course. Courses usually last three years, while a master's course increases the duration to five years. With a university course, you’ll gain advanced knowledge of the subject and be eligible to apply for several graduate schemes once you have finished your degree. Graduate schemes are competitive, so it can be useful to complete a work placement.
Once you’re qualified, your earning potential will depend on the field of engineering that you enter into. For example, the average salary for an Electrical Engineer is around £40,000 while the salary expectations for a Design Engineering Manager are approximately £70,000. Whether you’re just starting your career or you're looking for a change, the engineering industry arrives with a wealth of opportunities to learn plenty and earn an attractive salary.