Engineering Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships

Are you considering a career in engineering? Hats off to you. Hats off for two reasons. First of all, engineering is a fantastic industry, and second, you’ve just stumbled across one of the best routes into it. An apprenticeship in engineering!

Engineering Apprenticeships and Degree Apprenticeships

Are you considering a career in engineering? Hats off to you. Hats off for two reasons. First of all, engineering is a fantastic industry, and second, you’ve just stumbled across one of the best routes into it. An apprenticeship in engineering!

Read our guide to discover how engineering apprenticeships work; including entry requirements, the skills you need, reviews from real-life apprentices, and the UK’s most exciting schemes.

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Is engineering a good career?

Engineers apply science and mathematics to solve real-world problems. Whether it be the bus you miss every morning, the phone you use to access TikTok, or the speaker you blast your tunes out of, each is a feat of engineering.

Engineers are involved with every part of the creation process; from research to design, production and testing. So if you dream of inventing new technology, of building the first gingerbread skyscraper or the next wobbly bridge, engineering might just be the career for you.

Engineers usually work on a specific project in a small or large team. Given the array of different areas that engineers can work in, it’s hard to pin down exactly what an engineer gets up to at work. However, all engineers require good communication skills, creativity, and an ability to work alongside others to achieve a common goal.

There’s also the potential to make some serious dollar in this industry, with the average salary for a qualified engineer currently sitting at £56,807 a year. (A 10% increase from 2019!)

Are apprenticeships good for engineering?

The short answer? YES. You should definitely consider doing an apprenticeship in engineering if you want to get your career started straight out of school or college.

Not only does an apprenticeship have the benefit of paid work experience, but apprentices finish the course with valuable qualifications and professional contacts too.

An engineering apprenticeship is also a golden opportunity to develop both specialist and transferable skills, which can be used across a wide range of roles and industries.

Let’s say you’re a good problem solver, but aren’t very organised. As an engineering apprentice, you’ll turn your weaknesses into strengths and work your way up the career ladder much faster than if you’d gone to university.

Apprentices are paraded through the streets like heroes, like astronauts recently returned from space. If the glory isn’t enough for you, there are financial benefits too. Engineering apprentices take home an average salary of £18,298 a year. (Just think of all the Lego you could buy with that.)

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“I've developed my engineering knowledge considerably and the apprenticeship has given me a good insight into the world of engineering and manufacturing - something my family has always had a connection to. I feel that the qualifications I can achieve will provide me with a lot of opportunities in my working life.”(Technical Apprentice at Cummins)

How do engineering apprenticeships work?

An apprentice engineer studies for a nationally recognised qualification, while obtaining relevant, paid work experience in the engineering industry. Apprentices will work for at least 30 hours a week for 30 weeks a year. That time will be split between learning practical work skills, and working towards an engineering diploma.

Entrants must be at least 16 years old and out of full-time education. Aside from this, entry requirements depend on the employer and the type of apprenticeship you apply for, so it’s a good idea to check the information on our job pages.

How long is an engineering apprenticeship?

Engineering apprenticeships vary in length and can take anything from 12 months to five years to complete. It all depends on your level.

Intermediate apprenticeships, for instance, are usually a year long, whereas higher apprenticeships can last around five and a half years - five years to finish the programme and half a year to wrap up the End Point Assessment.

As an engineering apprentice, you’ll work 30 hours a week, 30 weeks a year. The structure of your programme will vary depending on your employer and the scheme you’re on. But whoever you work for, your time will be split between learning vocational skills and working towards a professional qualification.

What skills do you need for an engineering apprenticeship?

Engineering is a challenging profession that requires a specific set of skills, including…

Research and analysis

Great engineers are thinkers by nature. They’re curious and analytical when it comes to researching projects, and are constantly looking for ways that a project can be improved.

An eye for detail

If you want to succeed in engineering, you’ll need to have an excellent eye for detail. As part of your role, you’ll be doing lots of technical drawings and ensuring materials measure up. Every millimetre counts, so you don’t want to make any mistakes.

STEM skills

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are the life and soul of an engineer. With the industry being full of challenges, you’ll need STEM skills if you’re going to overcome them.

You’ll pick these up along the way on your apprenticeship, but before you start it’d be a good idea to familiarise yourself with commonly used software like CAD.

Communication

While it’s a given that communication skills are vital in the world of work, engineers must be able to translate complex technical language into one that can be understood by clients, as well as Quality Managers, Site Managers and Operation Managers.

“I have developed a wide range of skills that I didn't previously possess; this includes things like installing electrical appliances correctly and using machinery that I didn't previously have experience with. I feel that my mathematical skills have also developed with things like electrical calculations, for example three-phase power calculations.”(Mechatronics Engineer at Gatwick Airport)

Engineering Apprenticeship Salary

Engineering apprentices receive the same benefits as regular employees including a full salary, holidays, and other perks.

As an apprentice engineer, you’ll be taking home bucket loads of cash. However, the amount you’ll get paid will depend on your age and the type of apprenticeship you’re doing.

At the very least, your salary will be determined by the National Minimum Wage. But many employers pay much more than this. You'll likely find salary data on each of our job listings.

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Can I get an apprenticeship without GCSEs?

You can 100% do an apprenticeship without GCSEs. So if you didn’t get the exam results you’d hoped for and feel like the Earth is sinking beneath your very feet, don’t worry. You’ve got options.

While there are many apprenticeship levels, the ones that typically don’t ask for qualifications are intermediate apprenticeships. Intermediate apprenticeships last between one and two years and give you a work or knowledge-based qualification such as a level 2 NVQ or a BTEC.

So you'll be able to take that first step on the career ladder towards becoming an engineer.

Mechanical engineering apprenticeships

Mechanical engineers research, design, develop, produce, and maintain machinery, which means they can be found in all sorts of environments. They might be on the factory floor on a Monday morning, working on-site on Tuesday and be in the office on Wednesday. It’s a rock and roll lifestyle.

Mechanical engineers typically work in one of the following areas:

  • Research and development - studying and testing possible solutions to repair machinery

  • Repair and maintenance - identifying and resolving faults in equipment and machinery

  • Design - using CAD (computer aided design) software to modify existing products and draw up plans for prototypes

  • Construction - installing, assessing and improving machinery to ensure it operates smoothly

Apprenticeships in mechanical engineering can be found with top companies like Rolls Royce, BAE Systems and GE Aviation, as well as in smaller local businesses.

Watch this video to find out what it’s like to be one of Rolls Royce’s 700 engineering apprentices:

Engineering Degree Apprenticeships

Did you know you can gain an engineering degree, tuition free, while gaining work experience with some of the UK’s biggest engineering companies?

It’s true! Degree apprenticeships are a government-funded scheme, in which apprentices divide their time between working towards a full university degree, and full-time work in an industry-leading company.

Degree apprenticeships have been created in a number of engineering disciplines, including aerospace, automotive engineering, electronic systems engineering and software engineering. Read our full overview of degree apprenticeships to find out more, or click below to browse the engineering degree apprenticeship roles that we advertise.

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What are the best engineering apprenticeships in the UK?

Whether you live in London or the Highlands, engineering apprenticeship opportunities can be found all over the UK.

RateMyApprenticeship.co.uk’s Best Apprenticeship Employers table is based on thousands of honest reviews shared by former apprentices. So if you want to know which companies offer the very best engineering apprenticeships in the UK, it’s a great place to start.

Here are this year’s best 10 employers for apprenticeships in engineering:

The reviews delve into apprenticeship programmes at some of the country’s biggest and brightest engineering companies. Each one tells you whether or not the apprentice enjoyed the course, how much support they received, and what the extra-curricular activities were like, so be sure to give our engineering apprenticeship reviews a read.

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