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Engineering

Ways in

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There are four main levels of job in engineering. This means that you can start your career from any achievement level and work towards more qualifications at levels from one to six and higher.

The qualifications you need for entry depend on the level you start at. It is possible to improve both your skills and your prospects by taking additional training and qualifications, to enable you to progress from craft to technician level and on to professional level.

Operative - Levels one and two:

Although it is possible to find a job as an engineering operative without any formal qualifications, GCSEs (A*-E) can be useful, especially for Apprenticeships. With increased automation and use of technology, operatives need to have some understanding of Information Technology and of the systems involved in producing goods. Some employers may ask applicants to take a technical aptitude test to assess their manual skills.

Many operatives start as apprentices and train on the job. There are also pre-employment training courses at some colleges and training providers, and a range of engineering-related qualifications at different levels, including a GCSE in engineering, Foundation or Higher level Diplomas in Engineering and City & Guilds qualifications. Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship.

Craft - Level three:  

The main route into craft level is through an Apprenticeship. There are no set qualifications required for entry, but individual employers may ask for at least four GCSEs (A*-C), including English, maths and a subject such as science, engineering, or design and technology or the Diploma in engineering or construction and the built environment at higher level.

Technician - Levels three and four:

Technicians can either train with an employer on an Apprenticeship, or take a full-time or part-time college course and then apply to an employer for a trainee technician post. It may be possible to start as a trainee technician with four GCSE's (A*-C) via an Apprenticeship scheme. The Diploma in engineering or the Diploma in construction and the built environment may also be relevant. Qualifications that may lead to registration as an engineering technician include:

  • BTEC National Certificate or Diploma in engineering
  • Technical Certificate gained as part of an Advanced Apprenticeship
  • NVQ Level 3 in engineering
  • the completion a work-based learning route approved by a licensed professional engineering institution.

Professional - Level six and higher:

You can start by taking an accredited degree programme from the required educational base for becoming a professionally qualified engineer in the discipline of your choice. For example a degree in aeronautical engineering to work towards becoming a professional aeronautical engineer or a chemical engineering degree course to work towards becoming a professional chemical engineer. Minimum qualifications for engineering degrees are generally a minimum of two A levels including maths or equivalent and five subjects at GCSE (A*-C) or equivalent. A Foundation year may be possible for those who do not have the specified subjects at A level or equivalent.

In addition:

Chemical engineering requires chemistry at A Level or equivalent. - although if you don't have the required qualifications in chemistry and maths you may be accepted on to a foundation year before progressing to the first year of a chemical engineering degree course.

For Clinical engineering entry into the NHS is through the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM) Clinical Scientist Training Scheme, for which there is fierce competition. The minimum requirement for entry to the IPEM Clinical Scientist Training Scheme is normally a good degree in a physical science or engineering. A higher degree or industrial experience may be an advantage.

The qualifications you need for entry depend on the level you start at. It is possible to improve both your skills and your prospects by taking additional training and qualifications, to enable you to progress from craft to technician level and on to professional level.

For more information about the courses on offer locally for 14-19 year olds - including the new Diplomas in engineering - why not check out your local area prospectus?

For courses in higher education check out the UCAS website - www.ucas.com

For Apprenticeships check out vacancies on the National Apprenticeship site  www.apprenticeships.org.uk

For job vacancies check out your local Connexions site: