The path to becoming an engineer

From electrical and environmental to mechanical and nuclear, engineering is a diverse field. And engineers and the work they do are a key part of modern society. So what is the path to becoming an engineer?

School

Considering a career as a professional engineer? Then you’re going to have to go to university – more on that point below. But most undergraduate courses in the UK require good A-Levels, Highers or the equivalent marks. In terms of subject, that can depend on the field and course you’re going into but it’s likely you’ll need one Science subject at a minimum – that includes Biology, Chemistry and Physics – and maths. This can vary from uni to uni so be sure to look at the prospectus well in advance of choosing your subjects.
Given the growth in engineering, places are sought after so expect high levels of competition. Working hard at school and getting good grades is a must and engineering experience wouldn’t hurt either so contact local companies and ask if there are any internships or placements available. Given the breadth of the industry, if you haven’t already decided, it might also help you narrow down which field you want to go into.

University

Different universities follow different curriculums so take advantage of open days to check out what’s on offer and research thoroughly the course. It’s also good to speak to former or current students to get an idea too.
Some universities offer a broad engineering course with specialisation coming after a year or two. With others however, you can opt to specialise early on. In the UK, engineering undergraduates can opt for a Bachelors degree, or a BEng which takes three years, or Masters which is also known as a MEng and lasts four years.
Always check if the university is accredited to the Engineering Council. This is the regulatory organisation in the UK and if your course or university has this then it’s a major bonus. That’s because those degrees which are accredited to the Engineering Council are recognised as meeting professional engineering standards. It’s the gold standard for employers because it recognises the skills taught at that university are up to a certain level.
It might also be worth considering combining your engineering degree with another subject. Doing a Joint Honours degree is double the work, however, it reaps the rewards. For instance if you were to consider doing engineering with a language, then this opens up more jobs to you.
And once you’ve finished your undergraduate course, do consider your post graduate options. This could be a chance to build on your specialised subject or go into the field of research.

Professional Body

In the UK, there are dozens of professional engineering bodies to join. Alongside the Engineering Council, there is The Institution of Engineering and Technology as well as plenty of specialised organisations. If you’re pursuing a career in engineering, then having the backing of bodies like these are not just important, but essential. And they’ll also offer you information and news of your chosen sector.

Other Useful Qualities

And finally to be a good engineer, there are some personal qualities that might help. Engineers have a natural propensity towards the sciences and maths. You’re probably one who enjoy building things and take an interest in how something works or is put together. Being able to express yourself and communicate is also important because as an engineer you’re not going to be working on your own. And this takes us to the final useful quality: being a team player. And if you need any engineering help along your academic journey, then there’s plenty of resources available to you. Your university or school should be able to help too.

This articles was written by Sarah MacLennan on behalf of UK Essays. Set up almost a decade ago, it helps students who are struggling with their studies.

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