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How to Take the Right Path to Your Engineering Career

October 29, 2019 / 0 Comments

Getting your secondary qualification marks the beginning of your engineering career. At 16, you know that you’ll need to study your A-Levels and pass them to get to a good university. However, your school’s career adviser pointed you towards another possible future: working as an apprentice. And now, you’re at a crossroads.


As the provider of quality engineering recruitment in Sheffield and all over the UK, we here at Future Engineering Recruitment know how difficult this career choice must be. Having hired many engineering applicants–graduates, apprentices, even career shifters–and experts, we’re here to help you weigh up your options.


Should you get a degree or an apprenticeship? Here’s what you need to know.


Taking the ‘Higher’ Path


Higher Education is one way of jump-starting your Engineering career. It’s the path most taken, with around 163,000 students enrolling in engineering and technology programs in 2016. In universities, you’ll be taught the general concepts of engineering for a year or two. Afterward, you’ll be asked to pick a specialisation to focus on.


Once you have your Maths, Science, and IT A-Levels aced, you can enter the university of your choosing. Top Engineering universities, including the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University of Bristol, and Imperial College London, require at least one or two A* grades as an entry requirement. However, HM’s Government is introducing the T-Levels between next year and 2022 in England, focusing more on technical education, including engineering. So, there’s also that to consider.


Taking the ‘Practical’ Path


There’s a great number of students and parents who miss out on this path. For school-leavers or anyone who doesn’t want to pursue university life, you can take the more practical course. Apprenticeships offer an alternative way for young engineer hopefuls to earn money and work experience. You’ll be paid the National Minimum Wage if you’re aged under 19 or if you’re over 19 but are currently taking the first year of your apprenticeship.


For apprenticeship hopefuls, having GCSEs in Maths, Science, and IT is often required. Employers may look for proficiency in technical and people skills, as well. For higher-level apprenticeships, businesses may require you to pass your A-Levels or at least finish an intermediate level apprenticeship first.


Apprenticeships can also provide additional experience to uni graduates looking for higher levels of expertise. Those looking for a career shift also have this option.


Which Path is Right


These two paths are both viable options for any engineer hopefuls to take. What predominantly draws the line is the cost. Typically, apprenticeships won’t cost anything; in fact, you’re getting paid like any person in the workforce. You only need to pay for your daily living expenses–food, shelter, fares or gas, etc. University students, on the other hand, are burdened with tuition fees, among other payables.


And while going for apprenticeships seem financially sound, the job prospects of each differ. Despite the lessening stigma against apprenticeships, there are still employers who prefer to hire degree-holders than train an apprentice. There’s still some sense of prestige in having graduated in a top engineering school, such as Oxbridge. But even though graduates may find higher-paying and higher-quality jobs compared to apprentices, student debt could follow them like a dark cloud.


All of these paths, however, lead to being a professionally qualified engineer. By working or studying hard, you will be recognised as an engineer depending on whether you meet the qualifications. Study and work even harder and maybe one day, you’ll be dubbed a chartered engineer–the best of the best.


We here at Future Engineering Recruitment have our eyes on fresh talents and expert engineers and connect them with only the best engineering firms. Learn more about your Future career here.

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