What qualifications are important in Engineering?
How far you want your career to progress will determine what qualifications you will need and the timeframe it will take for you to reach your goal. For instance, if you have a couple of GCSE’s, but you see yourself as a Chief Engineer someday, you need to be prepared to learn new skills and improve your qualifications.
Even if you have a degree, however, you will need to be prepared to study further in order to have a successful career in engineering.
If you take the non-graduate route into engineering, the lowest entry point with a minimum of 5 GCSEs is on an apprenticeship scheme where you will work as an Operator and be expected to study towards an engineering diploma as part of your Apprenticeship.
A-Level holders can enrol on a higher apprenticeship which will qualify you to undertake a Higher National Diploma (HND) or Foundation Degree – both of which enable you to work around your existing commitments - before progressing into an Incorporated Engineer role.
The graduate route which will see you recognised as a member of one of the three main professional institutions; Institution of Civil Engineers, Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), or Institute of Electrical Engineers (ICE).
Professional qualifications are important in the industry and will increase your earning potential, improve your career prospects and will raise your professional credibility. The Engineering Council recognises three main categories of employment, all of which have their own professional qualifications: Chartered Engineers (CEng), Incorporated Engineers (IEng) and Engineering Technicians (EngTech).
To become and engineering technician you need a National Certificate / Diploma or equivalent qualification, combined with initial professional development (IPD), which can be achieved though an Advanced Apprenticeship.
Incorporated engineers require an engineering related degree or for those without a degree, alternative routes can include a HND or Foundation Degree followed by structured professional training.
Regardless of sector, the most sought after positions are generally accredited to chartered status. To become a Chartered Engineer, graduates study a four-year MEng degree accredited by one of the major engineering institutes, such as ICE.
If you are unsure what avenue is right for you, seek out potential work experience opportunities. Approach employers directly and volunteer for an unpaid work placement. This will give you an insight into the industry and if you prove your value to the organisation, you could end up with a job offer.