Getting onto a university engineering course will require a lot of hard work; you will be expected to have very good grades at both GSCE and A level. Generally, students are expected to have science or mathematics related academic qualifications; each university will stipulate its own specific academic requirements but if you do not like maths or science this career is probably not for you. Subjects related to design and technology may also be welcomed by higher education institutions. Generally, students will be expected to get A or B grades in order to gain a place on a degree course.
Choosing a course
There are a vast number of engineering courses available for undergraduates; these include both general and more specialised engineering courses. You need to choose which area of engineering you wish to get involved in and then select a suitable course: it is a good idea to visit the universities that offer the course you want to follow and apply to the ones you like the most. All universities have open days when you can look round, chat to other students and discuss your course with the appropriate staff; make sure you research the courses on offer carefully; you will be there for at least 3 years so should make your final decision carefully.
Most degree courses last between 3 and 5 years and will result in a Bachelor’s degree (this will often be a BSc or BEng qualification). If you wish to specialise in a certain area you may need to complete a period of further study which may include practical work experience as well as academic study. Students who choose to pursue postgraduate study will usually gain a Chartered Engineer qualification.
Other Routes: Diplomas and Apprenticeship schemes
If you do not feel confident doing a highly academic course, you can follow a more practical course which may involve participating in a GNVQ or City and Guilds programme or an apprenticeship scheme. Apprenticeship schemes allow you to learn practical skills alongside your academic study and offer the financial support you may need to get you through college. Students may also wish to follow a National Diploma course; this course commonly lasts for 2 years and serves as an excellent base for those who wish to pursue a career in engineering. Students wishing to enrol in this programme should usually have at least 4 GCSE passes.
With competition for places both at university and on apprenticeship schemes at an all time high, work experience is increasingly valuable. Having a period of work experience on your CV enables employers and admissions staff to see that you are passionate and committed to your interest; this experience will also make you stand out from other applicants.