Taking the apprenticeship route to an engineering future

picture of apprentice welding

If you could see yourself working with others to protect the environment, develop cutting-edge sports equipment, improve living conditions for people around the world or to manufacture the next generation of smartphones, engineering could be the career for you.

Engineering is everywhere and engineers improve the design, performance and efficiency of just about everything we use today.

Engineers are trained in a practical way, using maths, science, computing and design. They can take a vocational, apprenticeship or academic route into engineering, or a combination of these. Apprenticeships are available all the way up to Level 7, which is master’s degree level. This makes them a great alternative to going to uni – you can get a degree and all the fees are covered by your employer.

Engineering technicians often work with engineers to solve practical engineering problems and are usually trained through a vocational or apprenticeship route.

Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with studying for vocational qualifications, or even a degree at university. Vocational qualifications/Tech Levels are work-related qualifications, which can be taken full-time at school or college (as a pathway to work or university) or part time, during an apprenticeship. They include: BTEC Diplomas, City & Guilds, EAL NVQs and SVQs, HNCs, HNDs and others.

Whichever route you choose you’ll find yourself being rewarded, challenged and stimulated, with highly valued, transferable skills that will equip you for the future.

So why choose engineering?

  • Engineers make a difference to the world
  • Engineers are in demand and they earn good money
  • Engineering is behind almost everything you can think of
  • Like doctors and lawyers, professionally registered engineers are well respected
  • Engineers are creative, practical and forward-thinking

Apprenticeships are all about earning while you learn and investing in your future. Apprentices work towards nationally recognised qualifications and spend the rest of their time developing technical skills and ‘on-the-job’ knowledge with an employer in their chosen industry.

On completion of an apprenticeship, many people stay with their existing employer and progress from apprentice to professional technician or engineer.

As an apprentice you are supported throughout your training and encouraged to take on varied tasks and pick up new skills, giving you the opportunity to prove yourself to your employer. Your employer will have spent time and money training you, so they’ll want to keep you.

It’s worth remembering that as an apprentice your employer is investing heavily in your career development by funding your training and education. When you weigh this up against the cost of university, you can see why many people are considering the apprenticeship route.

For more information and to hear from engineering professionals who started out as apprentices, go to www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk

Profile picture for user Eleanor Eyre

Eleanor Eyre

Eleanor Eyre is Head of Careers at Engineering UK and leads the Careers working group. Eleanor works with colleagues and partners to develop inspiring and accessible careers content for EngineeringUK programmes including Tomorrow’s Engineers and The Big Bang Fair.