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Do I have to go to University to be an engineer?

A career in Engineering can be incredibly technical, and can see you working on some of the world’s biggest projects. But there is a myth commonly heard among young people choosing their career path that you have to go to University to be an engineer, which means years of study and thousands of pounds in fees. This can put off many people, who don’t see themselves as academic, want to get into work straight away, or simply can’t afford it.

The work route

The truth is that there are many ways to become an engineer, through both academic and non-academic routes, which are interesting and rewarding in their own right. And, if the UK is to make up the shortfall in the number of qualified engineers, alternative routes are increasingly necessary. On the job experience, industry qualifications and apprenticeships are all potential routes, and can help you get started much faster than three years of lectures.

If you’re already in a related industry such as construction or the built environment, there are various Engineering Council approved vocational qualifications that will allow you to put what you’ve learned to use – and take that step to being a fully fledged engineer. You can also obtain Chartership from one of the institutions such as IMechE or CIBSE, without a degree, which adds to your status and employability.

Apprenticeships

Another option for potential engineers is an apprenticeship. Through an approved apprenticeship programme, you’ll earn qualifications on the job while working with an employer. Aside from getting hands on experience of the actual job, you’ll also get paid for your work, rather than paying fees like a student. If you’re not interested in academia, this can be a great way of getting the qualifications you need without the lectures, and with actual paid work under your belt.

In both of these scenarios, the primary benefit you’ll gain is through seeeing professional engineers at work, putting the concepts you’d learn about at University into practice on a day to day basis. You’ll also learn about the business side of the job – what it’s like to run a site day to day rather than just in theory. This experience puts you at a distinct advantage in the workplace, and is something employers value highly.

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