How to become an engineer

If you're considering engineering as a possible future career, it's a good idea to leave your options open by choosing relevant subjects. Studying science and maths, especially physics, will give you a great start both at school and onto further learning post 16. If your school offers the three separate sciences, this provides a very good grounding for engineering.

Design & technology, IT, computing, art or geography could also help, depending on the type of engineering you want to go into such as chemical, biomedical and software engineering – there are hundreds of different types of engineering!

There are three main routes to becoming an engineer: apprenticeships, vocational qualifications and university.  The three routes are all interlinked and can all lead to becoming an engineer.



Apprenticeships allow you to earn money while you combine on-the-job training with studying. They can open doors to a wide variety of engineering jobs. You will generally need a minimum of five GCSEs (or equivalent), including English, mathematics and science or technology subjects, often at grades A* to C due to competition for places.

For more information on apprencticeships, visit our apprenticeship page.


These courses prepare you for a particular job, industry or sector. They are often very practical and may include coursework assignments related to real-work scenarios, as well as links with employers and work experience placements. These courses are offered at different levels and can lead onto further training, further education, higher education (university) or employment. BTECs, Diplomas, NVQs, HNCs and HNDs are all examples of vocational qualifications.


After completing your A-Levels, IB, Highers, BTEC Level 3 (or equivalent), you might choose to study engineering at University. 

Courses normally last for three or four years and sometimes involve a year working in industry, or a year abroad. Students can take a ‘general engineering’ degree or they might decide on a particular type of engineering, for example electronic engineering, design engineering, or one of the many other types of engineering.

You normally need to have studied maths and physics (or chemistry for chemical and medical engineering), or a related vocational course to Level 3, in order to apply to engineering courses at university.

For more information on university as a route, please visit our university page.