Engineering is at the heart of how we live and essential to our future. From renewable energy to communication and managing climate change to sustainable mobility, it’s all in the hands of engineers. Why not join them in finding the solutions to tomorrow’s problems?
About the Engineering Industry
From your morning coffee to the bed you sleep in at night, you have an engineer to thank for the experience. Pretty much, everything you use or consume will have been generated with the help of an engineer, whether it’s at the design stage, processing or actual production. And as the world and technology evolves, the need for engineers grows ever stronger. Become an engineer and you’ll never be short of a challenge.
What Can I Do?
The beauty of engineering apprenticeships is that there are so many strands. Because its use can be traced back from so many things, engineering apprenticeships allow you to specialise in an area that fits with your own interests.
Like your cars and have a thing for aircraft or boats? Then step this way and choose a career in engineering manufacturing, which could see you working in the aerospace, automotive, marine maintenance or mechanical engineering industries. Specifically, you could be the mastermind behind a revolutionary turbocharger on a supercar, the driving force behind a plane’s autopilot technology or the person who ensures that a submarine and its occupants can take the pressures of diving thousands of feet underwater.
Maybe you want to build your career in more ways than one, so choose a role in engineering construction. It could, for example, see you managing the construction of a cutting edge manufacturing facility, drawing up the plans for a complex air conditioning system or using specialised welding techniques to make a structure, pipe or machine practically unbreakable.
But while most people associate engineering with heavy industry and the use of large machinery, there’s also the domestic sector. This is everything to do with the home, such as the installation and maintenance of central heating to fitting cookers and ensuring the all-important Wi-Fi network is up and running.
No matter whatever area you choose to pursue or specialise in, you’ll learn invaluable skills that will give you the grounding for a lifetime career in an industry that never stays still.
The skills you learn will vary depending on the engineering apprenticeship you choose, but there are those that are shared amongst them all. Every engineer is creative and methodical in their approach, thinking through any problems or tasks and identifying the solution.
IT skills have become increasingly commonplace in engineering, while the ability to understand complex calculations is another trait of many working in the field. Many engineers will have a science and maths background.
To begin though, you won’t need to be a technical whizz. You’ll learn as you pursue an engineering career, whether it’s initially through an apprenticeship or further education. And, as with the size of the engineering sector, the amount of opportunities to enter it are huge. If you’ve got an eye for detail, a head for figures and a passion for how things work or are formed, then engineering could well be for you.
You could work in…
Here are some of the different sectors in the engineering industry where you could find a job:
Mechanical – production manager, CAD technician, automotive engineer, aerospace engineer, maintenance engineer
Civil – Building control surveyor, site engineer, structural engineer, water engineer
Electrical – naval engineer, electrical and electronics engineering technicians, medical engineer, electrical installers and repairers, network and computer systems administrators
Chemical – Analytical chemist, energy manager, materials engineer, mining engineer, chemical engineer, product process development scientist
There are many more engineering opportunities available, including those in project management, and there’s scope to use your skills to guide a whole team of engineers in a senior role.
Another great thing about the engineering sector is that there are plenty of ways to break into it. Degree courses provide the best prospects for a fast track to senior roles, but each path is designed to give you the skills for an engineering career.
Work-based & Work-related Qualifications
Relevant NVQ and BTEC programmes include:
To work in the industry at a senior level, relevant programmes in management and business technology could also prove useful.
There are plenty of engineering apprenticeship opportunities, although those with high-profile businesses – many of which are household names – are exceedingly sought after and attract a great deal of competition. Many small businesses will have apprenticeships and it’s a good way to join the industry.
Engineering Apprenticeships are offered at three levels:
Level Two (Intermediate) – Equivalent to GCSEs / Standard Grades
Level Three (Advanced) – Equivalent to A Levels / Highers
Level Four (Higher) – Equivalent to Foundation Degree / Advanced Highers
A Levels, Highers and Bachelors Degrees
Useful A Levels / Scottish Highers might include:
A degree will give you a sound understanding of the industry and a recognised qualification to help get your career up and running, especially if you’re looking to quickly move into a senior role. A vast amount of courses are available throughout the country and to see what best suits you and what qualifications (A Levels / Scottish Highers / Scottish Advanced Highers / IB modules) are required to secure a place.
Examples of the industry-specific degrees available include. General engineering, medical engineering, integrated mechanical and engineering, manufacturing and production engineering, fabrication, welding and inspection, and industrial design.
Life in the Engineering Industry
To say life as an engineer can be varied is an understatement! You could be onsite at the building of a power station, fixing someone’s central heating or be behind a desk using your computer skills designing life-saving medical equipment. Alternatively, you might be servicing heavy manufacturing machinery, developing a water irrigation system or playing a part in the safety of autonomous vehicles.
Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you’ll be attentive, a sharp thinker and a good team worker. As an engineer you’ll be dealing with things that make a difference – whether to the whole world or on an individual level – and you’ll have a lot of responsibility.
Evolving technology means that many engineers carry out their work from a computer screen, but also be prepared to get your hands dirty on site where there’s plenty of noise and, depending on the weather and location, difficult working conditions.
As with any job, there are parts that can be repetitive and seemingly unexciting, but as an engineer, you’ll be looking to link a whole host of individual elements together to create a whole that will have a major impact on people’s lives. That’s the beauty of being an engineer and it can be incredibly rewarding to see your efforts have a positive effect, whether your work enables people to do something never possible before or simplifies everyday tasks.
And fast-evolving technology, such as sustainable energy, self-driving cars and the rise of artificial intelligence, means that engineers will always be in demand to drive the development. If you want to help shape the future, then engineering is certainly worth considering today.